FORT WORTH, Texas - In the immediate moments following the completion of the World Finals, Jeff Talley and Gene Melton stood almost unnoticed behind the celebration that was taking place on the arena dirt inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
As emotionally taxing as the entire 2012 season had been, they actually looked defeated.
Instead, their hard work and effort, along with all the tears and even some laughter had paid off when Asteroid was named the World Champion Bull.
As much as it was a moment for Asteroid, it was, perhaps, a greater moment for the memory of Talley's parents.
"This whole season was in honor of Mom and Dad," said Talley, who lost his mother in January and lost his father - Howard Talley, the heart and soul of Circle T Ranch & Rodeo - a few months later. "Now we can go ahead with business as usual and see what we can do, but it is almost a relief.
"It's hard to explain. We'd go to an event and Asteroid would win or our bulls would do good, and then we'd have a hard time getting to the next one. We added some bulls and didn't know how that would work out. Everything kind of came together and it culminated here.
"It worked out," he continued, "but it's been an emotional roller coaster. It's been a physical roller coaster and all year it's been that way."
Prior to the World Finals, Asteroid and Bushwacker competed head-to-head 11 times in the past two seasons. Bushwacker had posted the higher score eight times, including the past six meetings leading up to their second trip to Las Vegas as the top two contenders for the title.
In the opening round they tied.
Asteroid was marked 46.75 points after bucking off Eneias Barbosa. The score initially worried Melton, who felt Asteroid couldn't have bucked any better and had thought he deserved to be 47.5 points.
Melton and Telley anxiously waited until much later in the round when Bushwacker bucked of Marco Eguchi, who managed to hang on for 6.36 seconds.
Bushwacker, the reigning World Champion Bull, was also marked 46.75 points and both sets of contractors - Bushwacker is co-owned by Julio Moreno and Richard Oliveira and hauled by Kent Cox - had to wait until Sunday afternoon to determine the winner in one last head-to-head matchup between the bulls.
"This whole season was in honor of Mom and Dad," said Jeff Talley.
The waiting was par for the course for Talley, who worked alongside Melton all year in an effort to make up for the absence of the late Howard Talley, who passed away after battling cancer.
"It worked out like it was supposed to," Talley said Sunday afternoon just before walking up on to the shark cage to formally accept the award for World Champion Bull. "This whole day has been pretty rough on me.
"I went through exactly what he went through," Melton added. "We went through all that together. I don't know yet if I'm relieved until I step up there."
Given the season both had endured, it was hard to believe it had come to this moment.
In the final round, Bushwacker drew Agnaldo Cardozo and was marked 46.25 points. Four outs later, Asteroid earned 46.5 points after bucking off L.J. Jenkins at 6.44 seconds to win the title by a mere quarter-point.
After being called to the shark cage, Talley turned back and said, "It really is a relief."
Melton smiled and said, "I don't know if it soaked in or not."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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