PUEBLO, Colo. - Saturday's Touring Pro Division stop in Tupelo, Miss., is event number three in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Big Bull Series, and the series' Top 2 riders, including one with local ties, will battle.
The RMEF Big Bull Series, in its second year, caught Cody Nance's attention Monday, when he was told over the phone that he was sitting second in the series standings.
"Really? What does the series winner get?" asked Nance.
The answer: an RMEF signature rifle, a 2013 hunt courtesy of RMEF, a full set of Cooper Tires and a New Holland Rustler utility vehicle. Oh, and the winner also receives a chance to compete at three Built Ford Tough Series events.
Here's the catch: Riders must compete in four of the five RMEF Big Bull Series events in order to be eligible to win the series. Nance only planned to compete in three.
After hearing about the series bounty, Nance changed his plans.
"I gotta enter Colorado. Bye," he said, hanging up.
After a quick call, Nance is now the fifth alternate for the Grand Junction, Colo., Big Bull stop on July 19. If he makes it on, he'll take the next-day flight for the series finale July 20-21 in Fort Myers, Fla.
"The series is a good opportunity. There's a lot there that's attractive."
Rooster McKeeman won the first series event in Asheville, N.C. (Nance didn't compete there), and Nance won the second in Huntsville, Ala. McKeeman, who finished third in Huntsville, leads Nance by $2,657.
"I guess you can say that phone call motivated me to try to get four out of the five series events," Nance said. "If it's God's will that I get on in Colorado, I'll step up to the challenge and accept the favor. If not, that's the way it was supposed to be.
"But, yes, the series is a good opportunity. There's a lot there that's attractive."
McKeeman and Nance, who currently sits 20th in the BFTS standings, will be riding against some top PBR competition in Tupelo, including Travis Briscoe, Cord McCoy, Sean Willingham and 2004 PBR world champion Mike Lee.
They will also be facing some of the toughest bulls on dirt. Jeff Robinson, reigning PBR Stock Contractor of the Year, will bring some of his best - Highway 12 and Git R'Done among them - as well as some up-and-coming stars.
"Not too many people talk about Rango, but he's good. Real good," Robinson said. "He's not in the Asteroid or Bushwacker league, but he's strong. He'll be in Tupelo and he'll be fun to watch."
Rango, 5, has bucked off 11 of 13 riders in 2012, including Valdiron de Oliveira, L.J. Jenkins and J.B. Mauney, currently ranked first, second and fifth, respectively, in the BFTS standings. In 2011, Rango ejected Oliveira, as well as 2008 world champ Guilherme Marchi.
Though none of the riders expected to compete in Tupelo are from Mississippi, Nance has fond memories of the two years he spent in Senetobia, Miss., just 90 miles northwest of Tupelo.
"I remember Tupelo being a nice little town," he said. "I've competed there before and I'm looking forward to going back this Saturday. The people are so nice. I still stay in contact with many of the friends I met there."
Don't be tricked into thinking PBR favorite and Top-30 star McCoy is a hometown boy; he is from Tupelo… Tupelo, Okla., that is. However, a Rango-McCoy matchup might be fun, as McCoy has bucked off the bull twice and would relish another shot. Austin Meier rode Rango for 91 points earlier this season, so chances are anyone who makes the whistle on the bull will get paid.
Though Tupelo is known worldwide as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, this weekend the hips shaking will belong to the cowboys, bulls and fans inside Tupelo's BancorpSouth Arena. Get your tickets at Ticketmaster.com or at Ticketsmate.com.
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