LIMA — It may look simple enough, but it was far from it.
A total of 37 professional bull riders brought their skills to Lima in the Potash Professional Bull Riding Lima Invitational Friday at the Allen County Fairgrounds, and riders have one thing on their minds as they maintain stone faces of concentration. Staying on for eight seconds.
“There are a lot of events around where you have people riding,” said event promoter Justin Cornwell, “but this is the PBR. This is how they make their living. The PBR is what the NFL is to football.”
Cornwell said the event is open only to PBR card and permit holders. The top 10 riders each night compete in a final for points towards the PBR championship. Cornwell said the event featured some of the best riders in the country, along with some of the best up-and-comers.
Rider Gage Gay, 20, from Staley, North Carolina, has been on the PBR circuit for almost three years. He finished just short, falling at 7.7 seconds. While he was disappointed with his performance, it brought 4,500 fans to their feet in approval.
“I know it looks like a bunch of rednecks climbing on bulls,” Gay said, “but there is a lot of technique to it. To compete at this level, you have to put a lot of time into it. You have to work out. You have to eat, sleep and breathe bull riding.”
Austin Gosnell, 23, from Mount Clare, Maryland, is a rookie on the tour.
“It can get frustrating,” Gosnell said. “I have been riding some sevens and you just don’t get there. Your goal every night is to ride twice (for eight seconds).”
Gosnell and and Gay both said it is a rewarding career.
“I have been riding since I was 11,” Gosnell said. “It is nice to be able to make a living doing what you love. It is a lot of freedom. Some people have to sit in an office all day.”
“There are not a lot of 20 year olds who can say they have traveled like I have,” Gay said. “We are not just weekend warriors. I have been riding cows and sheep since I was 4 years old, and now, being able to make it a career, it is amazing.”
The event continues tonight with action starting at 7:30 in Schmidthorst Pavilion at the Allen County Fairgrounds.