Will Centoni would have been cool with a 60.
“I mean, any score is better than nothing in bull riding,” Centoni said. “So I was happy with it.”
Sixty was the score announced after Centoni’s ride Tuesday during slack at the College National Finals Rodeo, much to the Casper Event Center crowd’s confusion.
Then, the big screen showed his actual score: 78.
“I was like, ‘That sounds a lot better than 60,’” Centoni said.
In fact, that score was better than any other ride in the second go-round. In addition to some pocket change, it gave Centoni a 73-point lead at the end of two rounds as the first rider of the rodeo to cover two bulls.
Impressive, given that Centoni doesn’t even consider himself a bull rider first and foremost.
“I haven’t really been thinking about the bull riding much,” the junior said. “I really focus more on the bronc riding, because I like it a little more. So I haven’t really practiced much bull riding coming here.
“I entered a few rodeos, so I haven’t even really thought of it. I just think of three basic things: leave with them, stay over the front end, keep my toes out, and that’s all I think about. I don’t overthink it at all. I stay simple. I don’t think there’s much more to it than that.”
Easy enough. Centoni, who is also competing in saddle bronc riding and team roping at the college finals, found himself tilting dangerously to the left Tuesday atop Harry Vold’s Yikes.
“I talked to a kid earlier, he said he had some moves to him,” Centoni said. “He had him in the practice pen, and he said he was pretty tricky to ride. It felt like I started him pretty good. Then he started going all different directions. He kind of had me pull off my rope, and I just kept my chin down and tried to get to the front end and finished my ride pretty strong, I felt like.
“... I’ve always been taught just to keep my feet down and turn my toes out and keep them moving forward. Stay up on my bull rope and keep my chest out, which is going to keep weight down on my feet. I was just trying to keep to the front end. If I can stay over the front end, then they’ll pack you around.”
It was a contrast to Frontier Rodeo’s Hooch, the bull Centoni rode Sunday for a 77.
“He was just a nice, honest bull,” said Centoni, who had failed to cover any bulls in his first two college finals. “Didn’t have any tricks to him. Went right around to the left, and he was just a super fun, super nice ride. And then today’s bull, just the level of difficulty is way harder. You’ve got to really ride the front in and track him. Don’t make too big of moves or else you’ll buck yourself off.”
The latter earned Centoni an extra point. But he’d rather have the “nice bull.”
“But you’ve got to get on all of them,” he said. “Everyone gets a different bull here.”
Clayton Sellars recorded a 75.5 on Tuesday, the only successful rider in the fourth section of the second go. The Western Texas College sophomore has had his fair share of success lately, currently leading the PRCA Rookie Standings with $62,614.95.
“I’ve been having an all right one, man,” he said of his season. “I kind of adopted a new mindset this year, and it’s really been paying off for me. I’m very thankful for it.”
The mindset has centered around Sellars’ mental approach to the sport.
“Just making myself a champion in my mind before the arena,” he said, “and then it just follows into the arena. ... It’s flipped everything around completely. So that’s kind of what I’ve been working on, the mental part of things.”
It’s something he worked on a little bit before beginning his college career.
“But not really serious,” he said. “And then Greg (Rhodes), my college coach, kind of mentioned it more. And then I got serious about it about halfway through last year, and really I’ve just been hammering on it, and it’s been paying off.”
It helped him climb into a tie for sixth place after Tuesday’s slack (along with Texas A&M University-Commerce’s Gavin Michel). Sunday, he wasn’t as lucky.
“I rode well for seven and a half seconds,” Sellars said. “You know, they don’t pay you for that. You’ve got to stay on the whole time.”