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Silcox can make leap to national radar

2/10/2006

Wesley Silcox. How does this guy keep flying under the radar? What does he have to do to prove himself?

In 2005, when he won the Reno Xtreme Bulls Tour stop, Myron Duarte rode the previously unridden Tahonta of the Big Bend Rodeo string — stealing the show.

At the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Silcox won the eighth round on Big Bend Rodeo's Keller Special and placed in three other rounds. He finished fifth in the average and won $45,180. Other than the big win in Reno, he didn't win any major rodeos in 2005, but still managed to win $181,415 on the season. He's quiet and unassuming, so maybe it's no wonder he hasn't jumped into the general bull riding fans' conscience.

However, at the recent Bullnanza event in Guthrie, Okla., he placed second behind newcomer Jake Wade.

San Antonio just might be his breaking out party in front of a nationwide television audience.

Of course, he'll face tough challenges from the usual suspects. Dustin Elliott seems to have unbelievable fortune in San Antonio. Not only did he win the Xtreme Bulls title there last year, the previous year he was second and he's even picked up some winnings at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

In 2003 Cory Melton took home the San Antonio Xtreme Bulls title. He's back on the tour and it would be no small surprise to see him do well. Finally, of course, there's the defending world champion, Matt Austin. So long as he's healthy and slump-free, he's got the momentum and motivation to be considered a constant threat.

As always, there are a few other guys to throw in the mix.

Woolsey's riding too good to not be mentioned and Jarrod Ford is looking for an opportunity to bounce back from a less-than-spectacular Wrangler NFR. Cody Hancock is another one who's due. Finally, Mike Moore is probably looking for vindication after the slap-call at last year's Xtreme Bulls Finals in Reno. He loves the big stage and historically, San Antonio's been one of the biggest on the tour.

Incidentally, the bull Moore slapped, Spiderman from the Southwick, Robertson and Wilson string, is scheduled to be the final-round match-up for the rider with the highest-marked ride in the semifinal round. The bulls are probably the biggest factor toward who will win in San Antonio, and the final-round slate is a doozy.

In addition to Southwick, Robertson and Wilson, Cervi Championship Rodeo, Classic ProRodeo, Andrews Rodeo and Cervi and Guidry Rodeo Company will all bring their best.

In the final round, viewers will see two things: some spectacular, high-marked rides, and some incredibly quick buck-offs.

According to ProBullStats.com, Spiderman has bucked off 83 percent of his riders. If he's ridden, his rider will win the event, but that's a big if. There are three bulls in the final round that are statistically more rideable than the others, and if whoever draws them makes the whistle, they should be in the 85-92 point range. Cervi and Guidry's Hot Damn (61 percent buck-off rate), Satan's Own (67 percent) of the Bad Company String, and Backdraft (36 percent) from Cervi Championship could carry their riders to huge scores.

But this is bull riding, so there's no telling who might step up shake things up.

Bob Welch has covered rodeo for six years and in addition to writing for ESPN.com ProRodeo, is the managing editor of Spin to Win magazine and serves as an associate producer onsite for the Xtreme Bulls and Wrangler ProRodeo Tour telecasts. Welch lives with his wife, Kristen, and 2-year-old son, Tate, in Black Forest, Colo.