ANAHEIM, Calif. ― This is the story of a bull ride that most people have forgotten about and others aren’t even aware of.
In October 2009, Markus Mariluch drew an as-of-yet unknown and unproven bull by the name of Bushwacker in the ABBI Classic wild card event. That was during the era when the World Finals was stretched over two weekends at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas with a three-day break in the middle.
The ABBI event took place during that three-day period.
Mariluch rode Bushwacker, who was marked 44 points, for 88 points that day. He was one of the two highest-marked bulls that afternoon and earned his Built Ford Tough Series debut the next night in Round 3 of the World Finals.
Thiago Paguioto rode him that night for 89.75 points.
Prior to the 2010 season, Mariluch thought Bushwacker would be a nice BFTS-caliber bull in which guys could potentially win rounds. Instead, he went nearly four years without being ridden – “from there on is when his big career started” – and set an all-time PBR record of 42 consecutive buckoffs at BFTS events.
Asked if he was initially surprised by the streak, Mariluch replied, “I kind of am.”
He continued, “At the time, nobody expected it, but now it’s pretty crazy that he went on that long of a streak.”
As for being overlooked or feeling left out when it comes to chronicling Bushwacker’s illustrious career, Mariluch said, “No. I don’t feel like that. It (doesn’t) really matter to me.
“I do know when I look up his name I’m one of the guys who rode him and it makes me happy, but I do want to get on him one more time before he retires. The trip – when I rode him – he bucked just as hard as he does today. He was just a little bit smaller. Other than that he was a great bull from then on.”
Bushwacker will be in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and his matchup with Nathan Schaper can be seen Sunday afternoon on CBS at noon ET.
Mariluch said he’s aware that some of the few people who remember his ride or have been reminded of his 8-second effort on the eventual two-time World Champion Bull are quick to note that Bushwacker was only 3.
Some have gone so far as to refer to him a calf.
“He was right at 4 and a full-grown bull,” said Mariluch, who described 3- and 4-year-old Classic bulls as “buckier and just not as stout. They’re actually more electric and kind of harder to ride.
“I have it on video. I mean, it’s one of the greatest bull rides I made – and then he becomes such a famous bull.”
In five-plus seasons, Bushwacker has amassed a laundry list of accomplishments ranging from winning $250,000 as the 2010 ABBI World Champion Classic Bull, a pair of world titles (2011, 2013) and being the high-marked bull more times than any other bull in his last three years on the BFTS.
Bushwacker has been ridden three times in his career, but only once since October 2009.
He has bucked off 67 of 70 riders to have faced him – two of those qualified rides came when he was barely 3 years old – and for those daring enough to have attempted Bushwacker, his average buckoff time was 3.31 seconds.
Last month, owner Julio Moreno announced 2014 would be Bushwacker’s final season.
Moreno said he wants to retire Bushwacker in the prime of his career to help assure his lasting memory as a great champion.
It was announced just this week that Bushwacker will be the $1 million bonus bull at Iron Cowboy V.
The defending World Champion Bull’s matchup Saturday night in Anaheim is worth an additional $25,000 for Schaper if the North Dakota native can make the 8-second whistle.
Bushwacker’s appearances this season will be in the 15/15 Bucking Battles, as well as the Iron Cowboy and Last Cowboy Standing, before closing out his career at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals in October.
Mariluch said he would like nothing better than to bookend Bushwacker’s career with a pair of qualified rides.
“I want to get on him one more time and try to be the last guy to ride him too,” Mariluch said. “Then I’d be the first and last.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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