Bringing ‘em in, bucking ‘em off at Dillon Days

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Easy rider

Jacob Peterson rides to victory during the final round of the Mechanical Bull Riding World Championship qualifier held in Dillon on Saturday. Gabrielle Regan photo

The Mechanical Bull Riding World Championship (MBRWC) event held in downtown Dillon last weekend as delivered—on a number of different levels.

During a pandemic era when most live events get canceled and the few that happen tend to attract just a few attendees, the qualifier for the MBRWC brought about 100 people to the Pioneer Event Center on Saturday for an event that formed part of the Dillon History Days celebration.

Among those drawn to it were a baker’s dozen of competitors that included some local talent.

The event delivered an exciting finish, with four competitors tied after the championship round forced into a ride-off for the title.

And as advertised by its promoter, the results proved that a woman could do as well a man in the vigorously athletic endurance event.

And the competition also delivered on its premise that anyone old enough and fit enough and determined enough could effectively compete—as lessexperienced (or inexperienced) bull riders hung with rodeo veterans.

“We were just driving by and saw it going on, so I figured I’d come join in,” said Dillon’s Tyler Sitz of his impromptu decision to enter a competition that concluded with him among its four finalists.

“I was surprised that I was decent at it. I didn’t think I’d be good at all,” said the recent BCHS graduate competing in his first mechanical bull riding event.

“This was my first bull riding completion,” Idaho’s Jacob Peterson told the Dillon Tribune minutes after he secured victory at the MBRWC event on Saturday.

“I rode one a little bit down by Twin Falls, where I’m from, but never at any competitions,” said Peterson, the first competitor up on the mechanical bull Saturday and one who—along with Sitz and several others— became a crowd favorite, inspiring chants of “Fear the Beard!” for his long beard and waxed moustache.

“I knew I could ride, but I didn’t know I could ride that well,” conceded Peterson, who stayed atop the mechanical bull through the three opening rounds and the championship round, only getting thrown off in his final ride-off ride, which lasted just a second longer than that of the second-place finisher, defending world champion Laura Moore.

“George called, and said, ‘Hey, the one in Dillon is still going to run’ said Moore of the phone call from MBRWC Founder and Promoter George Chicha that brought her to Dillon after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the MBRWC qualifier in Spangle, WA, where Moore won the 2019 world title in the event’s inaugural year.

“I was nervous, because we’re building an arena and tearing up our place a bit, so I haven’t been able to ride to practice,” said Moore, proprietor of a home care business.

“But we decided to come and make a family trip of it,” said Moore, who was accompanied to Dillon by her husband, her two young children, and her dad and mother—whom she escorted up to the mechanical bull after the event.

“I think this uses pretty much the same muscles as you use riding horses,” said Moore, an equestrian coach at Washington State University who seemed rarely troubled by the tactically irregular undulations of the mechanical bull—looking like she was doing the two-step with her husband, until just before she got tossed off its side, about a second earlier than Peterson had during his ride minutes before.

“I just held on as long as I could,” smiled Peterson, who said he was eventually thrown off by the mechanical bull’s spinning movements.

“I did this in honor of my dad. He passed away in 2008 from cancer. He rode broncs, he rode bulls. I was only 12 when I lost him and I wanted to honor him,” said Peterson of Hal S. Peterson, a professional rodeo competitor who won numerous buckles and toured Europe with the U.S. Rodeo team in the 1970s before a serious injury suffered during a bronc ride forced him to retire.

“I quit my rodeo career after he passed away because I didn’t have the coach I wanted anymore,” said Peterson, who got lured to the Dillon event after Calvin Perkins, president and CEO of A&P Mechanical Bulls suggested he’d do well here.

“It was awesome to win my first buckle. My dad won some,” said Peterson, who was accompanied to the event by his girlfriend and baby daughter.

“I’m proud, and I hope he’s proud. I was just glad to get the chance to come here and ride and do the best I could,” said Peterson, who along with all of Saturday’s other entrants qualified to compete at the MBRWC Finals to be held later this year.

“All the competitors rode really well,” said Peterson of a group that included Montana Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer and Legends Award Honoree Rooster Reynolds and third-place finisher Russel Pyne and former NRA competitor Dan Banderob.

“I thought every single one of them had a chance to win.”