PALA – Justin Koon of Grapevine, Ark., came out of a tight group in the first go-�round and saved his best ride for last to win the second Pala Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Touring Pro Division Championship Sunday afternoon, May 22 at the Pala Rodeo Grounds. Koon won $6,378.40 and the championship buckle. He scored 86 points on Sock Monkey and roared into the lead with 89 points on Mighty Whitey for a 175-point
The first-day scores on May 21 by Brandon Clark of Hollister, Calif.; Josh Koschel of Greely, Colo., and Wiley Petersen of Ft. Hall, Idaho, held up to the second day competitors. Clark (173 points) finished second and won $4,556.00; Koschel (17l.5) placed third with $2,733.60 and Petersen (167.5) finished sixth and took home $637.84.
Last-minute entry Harve Stewart of Stephenville, Texas, finished fourth with 170 points after an 84-point ride on T-Train and 86 points on Top Cat. Stewart won $1,822.40, while Danny Schlobohm of La Monte, Mont., was fifth with 168.5 points and $1,093.94.
Markus Mariluch of Elko, Nev., tied Petersen but finished seventh with 167.5 points and won $637.84 and Rocky McDonald of Chihuahua, Mexico, finished eighth with 165 points and $364.48. Petersen�s 87 points in Saturday�s Short Go topped Mariluch�s 79.5 Short Go score to break the tie.
Koschel, Mariluch, Tommy Rice, Fairfield, Calif., and Pete Farley, Kempsey, NSW, Australia, also won prize money for the best Long Go scores. Koschel and Rice tied with 89 points and won $1,594.60 each; Mariluch had an 88 point ride and won $911.20, and Farley�scored 87 points and�took home $455.60 from a total purse of $22,780.00
Charlie Sampson, a former world Bull Riding champion and a member of both major rodeo halls of fame, was one of the judges at the Professional Bull Riders event May 21-22 in the Pala Casino arena.
Sampson and Jim Bob Custer were the judges who gave scores to the riders at Pala. �It�s an honor just to do this,� Sampson said.
The judges are assigned by PBR headquarters. �I just judge whenever they call me,� said Sampson, who has been a rodeo judge since retiring from competition in 1994.
�I�m more excited than anything. I get to come to California, judge a great Bull Riding, and visit my family,� Sampson said.
Sampson, the first African-American cowboy to win a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world title, grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and some of his earliest rodeos included Murrieta Hot Springs and Lake Elsinore.
�This brings back so many memories,� he said of his first Bull Riding at Pala. �This is where I kind of started out at.�
In 1982 Sampson won the PRCA�s Bull Riding world championship. He now lives in Pueblo, Colorado, and noted that the temperature in Colorado when he left was 29 degrees.
Sampson, who is now 53, was inducted into the PRCA-affiliated Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs in 1996 and into the Rodeo Historical Society�s Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 2008. He was also featured in a 1993 Timex ad.
�What an enthusiastic crowd,� Sampson said of Pala. �What a beautiful atmosphere.�
Although his score was erased by an unsuccessful reride, the Professional Bull Riders event on the Pala Casino grounds saw Chad Denton�s first qualified ride since the 2010 National Finals Rodeo.
Denton rode in the May 21 session and stayed on Oscar on Fire for the required eight seconds. He was given a score and a reride option and took the reride.
He was bucked off Got Too during the reride.
�I didn�t do very good at all,� Denton said. �The first one ran off and the second one I didn�t deliver.�
The top 15 earners in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos during the PRCA regular-season year qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. Denton�s seventh-place position during the 2010 regular season earned him his first qualification for NFR.
Denton rode his first two bulls during NFR, placing high enough for a payout on both. In the eighth go-round December 9 he fractured his tibia in his left leg, and he was unable to compete in the final two NFR go-rounds.
Denton did not return to rodeo competition until the Las Vegas Helldorado Days Rodeo the week before the Pala bull riding. He was bucked off at Las Vegas.
Denton�s weekend which included Pala also included being bucked off at the Redding Rodeo during his May 19 ride and being bucked off May 20 during the Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Hayward.
A bull rider�s score is derived from the combination of the judges� scores for the animal�s performance and the scores for the rider�s performance. Rodeo judges may award a reride if they feel that the animal did not buck satisfactorily. Pala judges Jim Bob Custer and Charlie Sampson gave Denton 61 points for his ride on Oscar on Fire, but they also offered the opportunity for a reride.
If a rider accepts the reride option, his score on the reride becomes his official score. He does not keep his original score if he posts a qualified ride with a lower score than the original figure, nor does he keep his initial score if he fails to have a qualified ride on the reride.
Denton chose the reride. �You�ve got to come to win every time,� he said.
Denton, who lives in the California Town of Berry Creek, also rode in the 2010 PBR event at Pala. He was bucked off Acid Rain last year at Pala.
Denton followed Pala with a ride at the Ramona Rodeo that night. �I�m not in a position to just go lightly right now,� he said.
�I�ll go to NFR again,� Denton said. �I�m just trying to get all my ducks in a row.�