Bull riding: the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) event with the most first-time qualifiers. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) has announced that there will be 16 bull riding qualifiers this year, eight of which will be making their NFR debut!
These first-time qualifiers include Tristen Hutchings (#5), Maverick Potter (#7), Jared Parsonage (#10), Trey Holston (#11), JR Stratford (#12), Lukasey Morris (#14), Reid Oftedahl (#15) and Cole Fischer (#16).
While breakaway roping has six first-time qualifiers, every other event has four or less; which is a testament to the continued strong competition brought by past NFR qualifiers. However, in bull riding, we have seen many new faces bringing in the hot competition.
“I think bull riding is a very tough sport on your body, and it’s just one of the events you have to do while you’re young,” Hutchings said. “It’s a game of staying healthy, and the first timers or young kids are just a little more healthy.”
No matter the event or the contestant, competing under the bright lights at the Thomas & Mack is a dream come true. For these first-time qualifiers, making the trip to Vegas is the result of hard work and a long year.
“It took a lot of guts and determination for me to qualify for the finals this year,” Hutchings explained. “A lot of people don’t know, and I actually haven’t told anybody, but I partially tore two tendons in my knee in July and never got an MRI until two weeks ago. You could tell at the end of the season my knee finally started to feel better. This is the Super Bowl of our sport, and I’m very blessed and thankful to be here competing!”
Between the human and animal athletes putting on a show at the NFR, the action is sure to be exciting. Each rider will draw 10 bulls from a roster of 100 of the best in the world brought by 49 stock contractors.
“The bulls we get on now are bred to buck just like cutting horses or race horses,” Hutchings explained. “These are the best 100 bulls in the world; and to come out on top, you have to have one of the better bulls in the pen. I respect these animal athletes a lot. You can’t make a bull buck; they have to want it.”
From 20 years old to 35 years old and all across the nation, the qualifiers are supportive of one another, and the first timers are excited to compete as the best of the best with the 8 experienced, past NFR qualifiers.
“Being a bull rider is like having another family,” Hutchings said. “Everyone cheers each other on, especially everybody in the top 15.”
About the Author
Hannah Crandall, Originally from Earth, Texas, a small town in the Texas panhandle, I was raised around rodeo, agriculture, and the western lifestyle. With a degree from Texas A&M University, I have found a passion for promoting the lifestyle that made me who I am today. I am an experienced writer, marketer, and event professional with a strong desire to share the stories of those in our industry. When I’m not busy seeking out ways to promote the western way of life, I enjoy following those I care about around to rodeos, hunting, and going on runs with my blue-eyed, blue-merle Australian Shepherd.