Devon Mezei is discovering being number one has it’s perks, and pressures.
The Scandia bull rider is off to his best start ever on the Canadian pro rodeo scene. He’d won nearly $13,000 already, heading into the busy June run.
The 21-year-old admits he was liking his name at the top of the Canadian bull riding standings.
But, as often happens when you’re on top, the rest of the field sets you in their sights. And the competition was hot on his heels last weekend. Add to that some missed opportunities, and Mezei drove to the Sundre Pro Rodeo this weekend with a lot on his mind.
“Coming into today, my confidence has been higher, that’s for sure,” said Mezei. “Things have been going better than they ever have for me. But I bucked off in Innisfail, Wainwright and High River. Three in a row like that, and I didn’t take it very well, just because things had been going so good. I was just hoping it wouldn’t end, and I thought she may be coming to an end.”
But Mezei managed to solve his problems and bounce back at Sundre, turning in the best mark of the seven bull riders who managed to make the whistle over the weekend. His 83 earned him $1,790, plus an additional $420 in day money since only two cowboys rode their bulls on Sunday.
“I was having a lot of problems hanging on to my rope. I was riding good, but my hand just kept coming out, and it’s pretty tough to stay on with no hands,” he said. “So today, I said ‘enough’s enough’ and I wasn’t coming loose for nothing, until I pulled the ripcord.”
Bull riders secure their seat with a trademark locking loop around their handhold with the flat, manila bull rope. They use rosin to make it sticky, and Mezei made sure he applied some extra rosin to help his hand stay secure for a full eight seconds on the one he’d drawn called Killer Bee.
Confidence can be a fickle thing in sports, so seemingly solid one moment, and vanished the next. But Mezei insists the confidence of his successful season wasn’t really gone, if only shaken a bit.
“It never really left. I just had a talk with myself on the way up here, as crazy as that sounds. It’s all a head game. Bull riding is what you make it.”
Now that his head’s straight, and his hand is sticking around where it should, Mezei can savor his first time doing well at Sundre, and a beautiful new trophy buckle.
Dusty Hausauer liked the one he won last year at Sundre so much, he came back and took home another one, with an 84.5 point ride on American Sister, for $1,845.
James Miller made his first trip to rodeo in Canada count by taking the Sundre tie-down roping in just 6.9 seconds.
“It’s a lot faster set-up than what I’m used to,” said Miller. “Down by California, we usually rope bigger cattle and have longer scores, so we don’t get into that six second range.”
Lee Graves is quite comfortable with fast. He showed his world championship style in the steer wrestling by twisting one over in 3.7 seconds to win his buckle and $2,357.
Ponoka’s Brett Buss and Airdrie’s Jeffrey Quam topped a very fast team roping at Sundre, with a rapid 4.2 seconds, to share $3,980. The barrel racing went to South Dakota’s Lisa Lockhart for a 17.41 second run, worth $2,832. The bareback honors went to Texan Clint Cannon, for an 85-point ride, earning him $1,829.
The boys steer riding went to Shay Marks of Sunnybrook, while Saskatchewan’s Rylan Geiger took the novice saddle bronc riding. Manitoba’s Colin Adams won the novice bareback. Sundre’s own Carson Bowhay won the average in the wild cow milking. Tyson Frank of Stony Plain took home the all-around spurs.
Notes: It was a rough weekend for injuries. All-around hand Kyle Thomson of Black Diamond broke the scaffoid bone in his left hand competing at Sundre. Bareback rider Davey Shields broke his left leg in a wreck with the horse he was riding in Wainwright, and has already undergone surgery to repair the compound fracture. And World Champion barrel racer Lindsay Sears fractured her left leg after crashing into a partially closed outgate in High River. She’s got it partially cast and will be talking with doctors today to assess whether she can continue competing. The Nanton cowgirl is leading both rounds in the rich Reno rodeo, and is scheduled to run again on Saturday.