Sunday, Garrett Wickett’s ride at the College National Finals Rodeo ended with a scary sight. A Frontier Rodeo bull stepped on the Mid-Plains Community College junior’s back, drawing paramedics onto the arena floor.
Monday, Wickett was back on a bull. His ride ended with a bell.
“It feels pretty good, especially after yesterday, getting stomped on pretty good,” Wickett said after his 74-point ride. “It definitely takes the pain away. It feels good. Last year I came here, I bucked off everything. I bucked off the one yesterday. It feels really good just to get that first one knocked down.”
At last year’s CNFR, a bull stepped on the chest of Odessa College rider Bradie Gray, leaving him with no pulse and a 40 percent chance of survival — odds he eventually overcame. Luckily, Wickett’s injury was not as severe. He was unable to get up at first, not because he was unconscious but because he was struggling to breathe.
“As I was getting whipped down, he was coming around and just landed in the wrong place,” Wickett said of the bull. “Just part of it. One foot kind of hit me in the head and the other on stepped on me right in the middle of the back. I wasn’t knocked out. It just knocked all the air out of me, and I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t hardly move.
“So, it’s not the first time I’ve been in that situation. You’re thankful for the really good bullfighters we have here. They did their part and made me safe.”
Wickett didn’t doubt that he would return for the second day of the rodeo.
“I was going to definitely be coming back,” he said. “I just wanted to get the helmet off so I could breathe again. That was the only worry for me. Just glad to be able to compete again today and to get that first one knocked out.”
Wickett was on Triple V’s Hells Angel on Monday.
“A friend of mine had rode him a couple years ago here in Casper at the pro rodeo, and (I saw online) how many points he was. I never texted him at all, but I knew he’d fit me just right.
“It’s kind of nice, I think, not knowing what the bull’s going to do, because then it makes you try harder at it, I think. You don’t set up a game plan to set yourself up into a trap.”
Things went smoothly for Wickett the second time around.
“The bull just kind of jumped out there and turned back into the right of my hand,” he said. “Just started making moves. It was getting behind so I had to kick loose to try to spur on to catch back up. It got close right there at the end, but thankful my hand stayed in, and I had a pretty decent get-off today.”
The score — second only to Panhandle State’s Dustin Martinez’s 77.5 among bull riders Monday — bucked a recent trend for Wickett.
“I’ve been bucking off lately, and it’s just a weight on my shoulders,” he said. “That entire weight was just lifted with one 8-second bull ride.”
Wickett is making his second appearance at the CNFR. He has already surpassed his performance from last year.
“I’ve got a goal to redeem myself,” he said. “My goal is to win the CNFR, and that’s still a possibility, even after bucking off one.
“That’s still my goal. Stay humble, give the glory to God and thank him for allowing me to compete today.”