SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 17, 2007) — The third stop on the Dodge Xtreme Bulls Tour, in San Antonio, Texas over the weekend, introduced the larger bull riding fan base to a cowboy who's got the talent and promise to become a household name in the sport.
Luke Haught rode two bulls for 171.5 points — edging Steve Woolsey and Jarrod Craig for the event title and $17,498.
"I'm speechless," Haught said. "That's a lot of money."
And if the past is any indication, that amount of money this time of year will likely propel him into his first Wrangler NFR qualification. Cowboys including Craig, J.W. Harris, Woolsey and Zeb Lanham have ridden waves started in the Xtreme Bulls Tour to NFR qualifications.
In fact, since it's inception, Xtreme Bulls has been crucial to every eventual world champion's season as well.
While world title talk for Haught is definitely premature, the win in San Antonio was no fluke.
In the semifinal round, Haught (Weatherford, Texas) rode a D.H. and Teague ProRodeo bull called Johnny Be Good for 84.5 points. Kyle Joslin (Caldwell, Idaho) led the round with a 90-point mark aboard Frontier Rodeo's Salty Cat.
Newcomer Travis Campbell scored 87.5, while Woolsey had an 82.
Unfortunately for Joslin, the round-winning ride paired him with Broken Arrow's Pud — an eliminator with a 92 percent buck-off rate. Two of those buck offs came in this season's Xtreme Bulls. The bull tossed Jason McClain at the first San Antonio stop two weeks ago and Chad Besplug at the Rapid City event.
Mike Moore, who scored 81 points in the first round, drew perhaps the pick of the litter with 2006 PRCA Bucking Bull of the Year Biloxi Blues from the Southwick, Robertson and Wilson string. The bull, however, threw him. Moore got hung up and literally added injury to insult, when Biloxi Blues stepped on him. The Justin SportsMedicine Team carried Moore out of the arena and later sent him to the hospital to monitor him for broken ribs and a possible punctured lung.
Cooper Kanngiesser, who made the Finals with a 78, drew Frontier's Invisible Touch. The bull jumped out of the chute and kicked over his head and Kanngiesser didn't last long. On one judge's sheet the bull was marked a 24.5, on the other, a 25.
Haught, however, drew Mud Duck of the D.H. and Teague string. Ahead of him was Shawn Procter with a 165.5 mark on two, Craig with 167.5 points and Woolsey with 168.5.
"I'd never seen him before," Haught said of the bull "I knew he was supposed to be good because they'd been a lot of points on him before. I was just hoping he'd be good for me."
In fact, Brad Pierce was 92 points on the bull earlier in the San Antonio Rodeo.
Sure enough, the bull was good enough and Haught, who finished 45th in the world standings last year, scored 87 points. His winnings will likely move him into the top five this year — a position he's planning on staying in for the rest of the year.
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.