PSN: What does it mean to you to qualify for your second DNCFR?
LR: Out of three years of making it to our circuit finals, I have qualified twice for the DNCFR, so it means a lot. I have just had good luck at my circuit finals. I have drawn good steers and have taken advantage of them. I am just happy to go back to such a prestigious event.
PSN: What does it mean to you to be one of the two steer wrestlers representing the California circuit?
LR: Anytime you can beat Luke Branquinho (2004 world champion), it is definitely an accomplishment. He is a good friend of mine, so we have a lot of fun kidding each other.
PSN: What would it mean to you to win the DNCFR?
LR: For me, it would be my largest victory. The DNCFR is the largest rodeo I have gone to. So, a victory at the DNCFR would be really special.
PSN: What keeps you from going full-time?
LR: This year, my priorities have changed. The last couple years I have gone hard over both winters, but never had much luck. So, that kept me from going through the summertime. This year, I am getting married. I bought a house and am trying to get things situated before I take off and go rodeo again. I was getting tired of coming home to nothing. My future plans are to rodeo full-time again and possibly make it to the Wrangler NFR and win a world title. A big win in Pocatello would really help my confidence and could go a long way in helping me reach my goal.
PSN: When is the wedding date, and who is the lucky girl?
LR: We are planning on getting married on Nov. 18. I will be marrying Katie Wolcott, who was the National Cutting Champion in 1997. Her parents are involved in feed supplement for horses, and they sponsor a couple rodeo guys. Their company is Natural Glow.
PSN: Have you always been a timed event contestant competing in steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping?
LR: I grew up in a family of bronc riders. My grandfather, dad and uncle all rode broncs, but I was the only one to grow past six feet tall. I am 6-foot-4 now, and I thought, at that height, I wouldn't make a very good saddle bronc rider. I learned how to steer wrestle after I learned how to rope. I seemed to excel more in the steer wrestling than any other event.
PSN: What is your favorite event?
LR: My favorite event is the steer wrestling, partly because I win more at it, but also because it is fun. It takes technique, but it is the thrill you get and the adrenaline rush that makes me like it so much.
PSN: If you hadn't grown up in such a rodeo family, what do you think you would be doing today?
LR: I would probably be in the X Games. I enjoyed riding motorcycles and stuff like that when I was younger. I didn't start riding horses until I was 10, because I was around them so much, and I didn't really think about riding much. As I was getting ready to enter high school, I decided to be a rodeo cowboy since I had so many resources available to me. I figured I should take advantage of that.
PSN: Did you compete in any other sports in high school?
LR: I played football and basketball and probably liked football the best. I played outside linebacker, and my coach wanted me to try out for college football. I decided if I wasn't going to be able to make it to the NFL, then it wasn't worth it, so I stuck to rodeo.
PSN: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
LR: I mostly work on the ranch and help out with the cattle business. I go to jackpot ropings and go snowboarding as much as I can. That is another reason I am looking forward to Pocatello because they have the cowboy ski race. The last time I went, I finished second in the cowboy slalom. Hopefully this year, I can win it.
PSN: If could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
LR: I would like to go to Rome and see the Coliseum where the Gladiators competed.
PSN: What is your favorite TV show?
LR: CSI, the one from Las Vegas. That is a cool show.
PSN: Did you watch any of the Olympics, and if so, what was your favorite event?
LR: I got to watch the snowboarding competition, and it was good watching. I am glad the Americans did so well. Snowboarding is definitely my favorite event to watch.
PSN: You were diagnosed with cancer in the Spring of 2002. Are you cancer-free now?
LR: Every year I get a check-up, and every year I have been clear and cancer-free. Every year that goes by, the chance of it coming back is less and less.
PSN: How tough of a time was that for you?
LR: It definitely put life in perspective. You learn to appreciate the little things in life your family and friends and being able to enjoy what you do. You learn to not sweat the small stuff. If your day goes bad, you always realize that it could be worse, so you just go on and appreciate every day you are given.
PSN: How has the change in attitude helped you in the arena?
LR: I definitely think it has helped me. Mentally, I realize just being able to compete is special because many people don't have the ability or opportunity to compete. If something goes bad, I just chalk it up to experience and go to the next one.
PSN: Do you feel like you are an inspiration for others?
LR: I hope I am. I try to be a good role model for younger guys trying to excel in the sport. A guy I look up to now is Lance Armstrong. I read his biography, and for him to battle back from what he had which was much worse than mine because his spread to his brain and win seven Tour de France championships is pretty amazing. I look up to a guy like that and, hopefully, I can be a guy like that to others.
PSN: Have you ever met Lance Armstrong?
LR: The closest chance I had to meeting him was when I rode in his bike ride known as the Live Strong Ride, which is held the end of September in Portland, Ore. I rode in the same race with him, but never got close enough to actually talk to him. The race was a 40-mile ride, and that day I actually rode a bike 40 miles. That was the longest bike ride I had ever done. I practiced a little before that, but the farthest I went was seven miles. That day, it was a good feeling to be around all the other cancer survivors, and if they were going to ride for 40 miles, I figured I could do it as well. That was a pretty neat race, and I will probably try to be involved in the race every year. I was affected with cancer and know several more are affected with it every day. I try to give back and show hope for those people, like they showed for me.
The Cowboy Grille appears in each issue of the ProRodeo Sports News which is published bi-weekly by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. For more information or to subscribe, contact them by clicking here.