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Home News-Telegram News Top bull fighters coming to PBR Challenge Aug. 21-22 take on some of North America’s most dangerous bucking beasts

Top bull fighters coming to PBR Challenge Aug. 21-22 take on some of North America’s most dangerous bucking beasts

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When the Texas Heritage National Bank PBR Challenge presented by Priefert Ranch Equipment arrives at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center on Aug. 21-22, plenty of fans will be familiar with some of the names of the championship-caliber bull riders entered.

But the PBR Challenge is also one leg of the Professional Bullfighters’ Daisy Protection Tour, which features the top bullfighting athletes competing against the most dangerous bulls in North America in protection bullfighting competition.

Bullfighters are men who have trained in the dangerous art of wresting the riders away from danger at the last second, men who have polished those skills into somethinig of a fine art.

Four teams of bullfighters— akin to rodeo clowns but without the baggy pans, the grease paint or the sillly routines — not only will jump in the fray to save the lives of the bull riders involved in the PBR event, but they will also be competing against one another while trying to obtain the top scores from a group of professional bullfighters who are assigned to judge their talents.

The PBF Professional Bullfighters’ Daisy Protection Tour will be featured throughout the United States during 2009. The tour will culminate in the Professional Bullfighters’ Daisy Protection Bullfighting World Finals to crown the World Champion Protection Bullfight Team.

The Protection and Freestyle Bullfighters have no ropes, spurs or weapons of any kind in which to battle the bull. They are armed with an inner courage reserved for those that are willing to face death with a defiance that is unparalleled in any sport. The bullfighter relies on his athletic prowess, precision timing, and ability to think and make decisions in milliseconds that could mean life or death for either him or the bull riders, whose lives have been placed in his hands. There is no room for error.


What is competition bullfighting?

Protection Bullfighting Competition is making bull riding even more exciting for the fans and athletes alike. It is the only sport in the world where the competition is based upon saving lives. The bulls are hotter and the danger factor of both the bulls bucking ability and his fighting tenacity are brought into play. The bullrider must master the fury from his back for 8 seconds, as the bullfighters position themselves to engage the beast on his terms at ground zero to extract the bullrider to safety once he has dismounted. The action never stops until the bull exits the arena. The bullfighter does not create the action; he anticipates the action and reacts to position himself to engage the situation the bull and bullrider create good or bad!  One bull, one bullrider, two bullfighters competing in the ultimate extreme multi-player competition where the ultimate reward is to survive.


Protection Bullfighting:

1. Bullfighters compete as two-man teams in Protection Bullfighting.

2. The bull fighters work as a team to maintain protective coverage for the bull riders escape. the bull fighters teamwork is crucial, they must be able to react to each others moves to maintain a parallel position on either side of the bull at all times. One wrong move or misread could be deadly for both the Bull Rider and the Bull Fighters.


Judging Criteria

TURNING BULLS BACK: The ability to engage the bull to make him turn back and spin, if needed, to gain the rider more points.

DISMOUNT POSITIONING: To be in the right place when the bull rider dismounts takes precision timing and a great deal of bull savvy. The bull dictates where the bullfighters will be

at all times during the ride. The bullfighters must be able to react instinctively to the bull’s actions to be able to give the bull rider the best possible opportunity to escape unharmed.

HOOKING PREVENTION: The bullfighters analyze not only every move the bull makes but the rider, too. By doing so many times the bullfighters can prevent the wreck before it happens by spotting little things that cause the bull rider to be bucked off and possibly hooked. Sometimes there is nothing they can do to prevent the injury but are engaged in the wreck distracting the bull to give the bull rider a chance to escape.

HANG-UPS: When the bull rider gets hung up, the bullfighters will work as a team, with one getting the bulls head under control, while the second bullfighter goes to the rider’s hand and works to free it from the rope.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: The danger factor of not only the bull, but also the situation. A horned bull that hooks will have a higher degree of difficulty than a muley bull that hooks.

AGGRESSIVENESS: The bullfighters’ aggressiveness to the action taking place during and after the ride.

SHOWMANSHIP: The ability to take the situation and make it entertaining for the audience.



The teams each compete on an equal number of bulls. They will be given a cumulative score on each section of bulls. The scoring is different than other rodeo events in that protection is not scored on a 1-100 scale for each bull. Instead each technical maneuver that the bullfighters make has a point value. The maximum points that can be earned on a single bull are 18 points per judge.  The judging is performed by professional bullfighters as they are the only people capable of reading a situation and determining if the bullfight team was at the right place performing the right maneuvers based upon the action taking place.


The contestants

Three of the teams competing next weekend are being sponsored by local banks, while the fourth team features a pair of young performers who are making names for themselves.


Team Alliance Bank

Joe Garretson

Springfield, Mo

Lance McIlvain

Arlington, Texas

A year ago, Lance McIlvain walked out of the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center carrying one of the most prestigious trophies in protection bullfighting: the Daisy Commemorative 1874 Rifle given to the Daisy “Take Aim at Safety” MVP at every Professional Bullfighters Daisy Protection Tour event.

He also walked out with a great deal of pride, knowing full well that the decision to give him the honor came from his fellow bullfighters, who voted him the best of the weekend.

This year, the Arlington, Texas, cowboy returns to Sulphur Springs for the Texas Heritage National Bank PBR Challenge presented by Priefert Ranch Equipment, where he will try to better last year’s second-place finish while competing with a new partner in veteran Joe Garretson of Springfield, Mo.

Representing Team Alliance Bank in Sulphur Springs, both qualified for the 2008 PBF Daisy Protection Bullfight World Championships, placing themselves among the elite of protection bullfighting competition. Garretson is a two-time qualifier, who finished runner-up in the final PBF standings as the 2007 Reserve World Champion Protection Bullfighter.

Besides his prowess in the protection-bullfight competitions, Garretson is established in the sport and, in 2008, was voted the bullfighter of the year for the Professional Championship Bullriding organization. He’s also a bullfighting instructor for the illustrious Sankey Rodeo Schools.

McIlvain is a second-generation bullfighter, and his father, Frank McIlvain Jr., was a mainstay on the Mesquite Championship Rodeo performances and national telecasts for many years.


Team City National Bank:

Wacey Munsell

Ulysses, Kan.

Chad Dowdy

Bristow, Okla.

Wacey Munsell knows what it means to stand in the winner’s circle. He’s done it plenty in his relatively short career.

This year during the Texas Heritage National Bank PBR Challenge , Munsell returns to defend his Professional Bullfighters Daisy Protection Bullfight Tour win in Sulphur Springs. Representing Team City National Bank, the Ulysses, Kan., bullfighter will compete with Chad Dowdy of Bristow, Okla.

And while Munsell’s just 22 years old, he’s a handy veteran and the inaugural PBF world champion, winning the coveted crown in 2007.

Dowdy is a crafty bullfighter, using his 29 years around livestock to showcase a better understanding of bulls to make the moves necessary to be a standout in protection competition. Dowdy knows the sport, having fought bulls for 14 years. In his career, he’s won the 2001 Miller Lite Bull BlowOut in Denton, Texas, the longest-running protection bullfight competition in the world; was twice been an event MVP in 2008 and has won the honor once already this season; qualified for the Super Bull Finals in 2001; and was voted to work the International Finals Rodeo in 2005.

He calls himself an adrenaline junky, but it’s not roller coasters that drive his rush. There’s no greater rush than stepping in front of a bulls, he said.

“Because of the way they judge these protection bullfights, you’ve got to be really aggressive,” Dowdy said. “You’ve got to be on top of your game. If you ain’t that caliber every time, then you’re just going to be in the back of the pack. It makes you step up your game so much.”

Before he claimed the 2007 world title, Munsell – a third-generation bullfighter – had made a significant name for himself in freestyle bullfighting. In 2004, he was the youngest ever to be allowed on the TwoBulls Protection Tour and the World Championship Rodeo Bullfighting tour, finishing as the world champion, earning the gold buckle just eight days after his 18th birthday.

That same season, he was approved for his PRCA card when he won the National Finals Rodeo’s Bucking Stock Sale. In 2005 and ’06, he won the freestyle championship when it was associated with the PBR World Finals. He’s also won the California Rodeo-Salinas freestyle championship in 2005 and ’06.


Team Texas Heritage National Bank

Andy Burelle

Ardmore, Okla.

Dusty Tuckness

Meeteetse, Wyo.

Professional Bullfighters Daisy Protection Bullfight world champion Andy Burelle likes what he sees in his co-champ partner, Dusty Tuckness. Both are aggressive. Both are confident. Both love what they do.

“He’s actually a younger version of me,” Burelle said last August after the two swept the Daisy Tour competition during the Miller Lite Bull Blowout in Denton, Texas.

Being a younger version of a great bullfighter is a good thing, especially when you throw in the fact that Burelle and Tuckness are reigning PBF world champions. And because of that, they might be slight favorites to win the Texas Heritage National Bank PBR Challenge presented by Priefert Ranch Equipment.

Representing Team Texas Heritage National Bank, a lot of people are betting on Burelle and Tuckness, two of the most sought-after bullfighters in the game. They also won the Daisy Protection Bullfight Tour event that was part of the Cord McCoy Invitational the end of May in Ada, Okla.

“Dusty’s the best partner I could ever have,” Burelle said after the team clinched the world championship. “Everything always works when we’re in the arena together. Our styles really fit each other.”

Burelle is also a local favorite, having transplanted from his native Michigan to Ardmore, Okla. When he’s not at his Wyoming home or at one of the biggest events in the sport, Tuckness hangs his hat in Comanche, Okla. But they fight bulls for a living, and that’s the reason they’re heading to Sulphur Springs at the end of August.

Team Jantzi and Inman

Dave Jantzi

Sugar Creek, Ohio

Toby Inman

Davis Junction, Ill.

Dave Jantzi and Toby Inman are slowly but surely making names for themselves, and they’re doing it the right way.

These tremendous athletes aren’t like Terrell Owens or Manny Ramirez. They care about competition and care about others around them. It’s why they are involved in the Professional Bullfighters Daisy Protection Bullfight Tour.

And now Jantzi, from Sugarcreek, Ohio, and Inman, from Davis Junction, Ill., are showing the world their fantastic abilities inside the arena. Competing at the Texas Heritage National Bank PBR Challenge, Jantzi and Inman are coming off their first qualification to the PBF Daisy Protection Bullfight World Championships.

It was there during the finals in Odessa, Texas, that the duo stood the rodeo world on its ear by winning three of six go-rounds and finishing second in the all-important average race.

“When you come in here to the finals and fight against the best teams, it’s an honor just to be here,” Inman said after winning the final go-round during the championships. “But to win three rounds is just unbelievable.”

Inman is a five-year pro, and he has a passion for not only fighting bulls, but doing so better than most.

“Not everybody else can do it,” he said. “It’s exciting. It’s just one of those things. Some people like to bike. Some people like to throw horseshoes. Some people like to skydive.

“I don’t see jumping out of a perfectly good airplane as a rush, but I do like to step out in the arena and help people. I’m just having a good time.”

And being an athlete, Jantzi realizes the importance of doing a good job, whether it’s working an event or being part of a PBF contest.

“My protection because of going to the competitions has just gone up tremendously,” Jantzi said. “The competition has made me just so much better at protecting cowboys. You start doing everything competition wise, and then you’re running with the top guys in the country.

“You’ve got to be good, or you don’t win a check at these deals.”




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