- Bob Welch
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ELLENSBURG, Wash. Two years ago Clint Craig won the Ellensburg (Wash.) edition of the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour presented by B&W Trailer Hitches. Last year, Jarrod Ford claimed the title. Considering nothing other than the names of the past two champions (which is just about as good a prognostication tool as any in bull riding) we should have all known Jarrod Craig would win this year.
After riding two bulls for 177 points, that's exactly what happened. Craig rode Four Aces from the Flying Five Rodeo Company in the semifinal round for 87 points.
"I watched my traveling partner Luke Haught ride him in Kennewick," Craig said. "He was 87 points, too."
For bull riders, seeing a bull and knowing his tendencies can prove invaluable. The 87 mark put Craig in the third-place hole heading into the final round. Ryan Brown, who is busting through a two-year injury-plagued slump, rode Big Bend's Hard Ball for 88 points to lead the round. Reigning Xtreme Bulls and World Champion Matt Austin came in second with an 87.5 mark on Beard's Scarface. Uncharacteristically, Austin tossed his hat after the ride.
"Things weren't really clicking here lately," he said. "It just felt really good to ride one right."
Coincidentally, Craig is an alumnus of Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas, and was on the rodeo team with Austin in 2005 when Austin won the National Intercollegiate Bull Riding Title. Picking up on Austin's winning ways, this summer Craig claimed the crown for himself and kept the title at Hill College.
"Anybody's going to learn something from Matt," Craig said.
Wesley Silcox, Zeb Lanham, JayC Bean and Bobby Welsh also made the short round. Entering the final round, Welsh got things kicked off by riding Corey and Horst's Three Spots for 89 points. The next five bull riders bucked off the tough pen of Beard, Burns, Corey and Horst, Big Bend and Flying Five bulls.
Lanham drew Spotted Jacket of the Flying Five string and spurred the bull for a round-winning 92-point mark. Next, Silcox rode Beard's Thirteen for 81 points. Jarrod Craig drew Flying Five's Fire Water, another bull he had seen.
"J-Bird Morrow had that bull in Kennewick," Craig said. "Ever since I saw him, I've been wanting to get on him."
The bull also showed his stuff earlier this year on the Xtreme Bulls Ride Hard Tour. Sonny Murphy scored 94 on Fire Water in Reno only to be overshadowed by J.W. Harris's 96-point record ride on Werewolf.
Craig managed to get 90 points on his ride aboard Fire Water in Ellensburg.
"He felt great," he said.
Then he watched as Austin bucked off the treacherous Hi Jinx from the Big Bend string and Brown narrowly missed making the whistle aboard Beard Rodeo's Bacca.
"This is definitely the biggest win for me so far," Craig said of the $15,397. But if he continues to follow in the footsteps of Austin, the sky's the limit.
1. Ryan Brown, 88 on Hard Ball, $5,076
2. Matt Austin, 87.5, $3,892
3. Jarrod Craig, 87, $2,876
4. Wesley Silcox, 84.5, $1,861
5. Zeb Lanham, 84, $1,184
6. JC Bean, 82.5, $846
7. D.J. Domangue, 81.5, $592
7. Ardie Maier, 81.5, $592
1. Zeb Lanham, 92 on Spotted Jacket, $3,722
2. Jarrod Craig, 90,$2,820
3. Bobby Welsh, 89, $2,030
4. Wesley Silcox, 81, $1,354.
1. Jarrod Craig, 177, $8,460
2. Zeb Lanham, 176, $6,486
3. Wesley Silcox, 165.5, $4,794
4. Bobby Welsh, 165, $3,102
5. Ryan Brown, 88, $1,974
6. Matt Austin, 87.5, $1,410
7. JC Bean, 82.5, $1,128
8. Ardie Maier, 81.5, $423
8. D.J. Domangue, 81.5, $423
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.
Two years ago Clint Craig won the Ellensburg (Wash.) Xtreme Bulls stop. Last year, Jarrod Ford claimed the title. Considering nothing other than the names of the past two champions it shouldn't be a surprise to know Jarrod Craig won this year.