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Monday, October 23, 2006
Austin gets last shot at crown in Indy

By Matt Austin
(As told to Amanda Kennedy)

(Oct. 19, 2006) — [Editor's Note: Since this Blog was filed, Austin was injured and turned out of the Indianapolis Finale. His status for the rest of the year and the Wrangler NFR is not known at this time.] The Ellensburg (Wash.) rodeo didnít treat me too good this year. I got bucked off the first night, but the Xtreme Bulls was the next day (Sept. 2) and I was pretty fired up.

I had a good bull in the first round (Beard Rodeosí Scarface) and was 87.5 on him. Then in the short round I drew Big Bendís Hi Jinx, which is not a desired bull for a short round performance. Heís good, but heís got big horns and he slings his head. He bucked me off, but I was happy with my performance.

We left there and went to Walla Walla, Wash. (Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days) where I had Silveradoís Pile Driver and was an 87 on him. We stayed up at my buddy Myron Duarteís house that next week. We had a lot of fun. The whole gang was there: Clayton Williams, Brad Knowles, Mike Moore, Travis Sellers, D.J. Domangue and Cory Melton. We met J.W. and Codi Baucom. Codi is a barrel racer whoís going to make the NFR this year.

We hung out and played a lot of volleyball, cooked out and had a good time all week long. We played so much volleyball that by the end of the week, our calves were so sore we couldnít hardly walk. We are all in pretty good shape, but we used muscles we hadnít exercised in a while.

We always have a good time when we go up there and stay with the Duartes in Auburn Wash. They treat us like family and cook breakfast and dinner each day and night. Itís just a blessing to have friends who will take you in for as long as you need and feed you and take care of you. We really look forward to that part of the year and hanging out with Myron, Katie, the boys and their mom and dad.

After that, we went to Lewiston, Idaho to the Xtreme Bulls there. (A Division 2 qualifying event.) I had some really good bulls and ended up winning the event.

What was really neat was that the theme of the event was Jackson Sundown, named after an Indian. The buckle I won was made out of beads. It was something that was really unique and special to me because you donít see anything like that.

Then we headed off to my favorite rodeo, the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-up. Itís always been good to me. Iíve always drawn good bulls there and itís something so different in the rodeo world. They buck the bulls and run barrels and everything in a grass arena. Itís so neat to watch and be a part of. I had a good bull, but I got hung up at the end. Thatís the first time I have been hung up in a while, so it felt a little funny. I was 80 points and was making the short round. But it was close call. I was on pins and needles hoping to make the short round. I was still in need of some more Wrangler ProRodeo Tour points to assure me I could go to Omaha, Neb., for the Tour finale.

But I ended up coming back in ninth or 10th place.

I had a bull (Mike Coreyís Poison Oak) that hadnít been ridden until then. I was 84 and I praised the good Lord for giving me the Tour points I needed.

After that we went home for about two days. It was good to see my family for a few days before we left again for Texarkana, Ark. (Four States Fair & Rodeo). I won second there on Scotty Lovelaceís Iím Dirty. Itís a good young bull that will probably go to the NFR this year. Heís one that everybody likes to draw and for good reason.

Then Brad, Clayton Foltyn and I went to Albuquerque, N.M. I had a bull (Vernon Goodreyís Western Hauler) that Iíve been on twice before and didnít ride, so I was anxious to get on him again. Heís a bucking little dude and a lot of guys donít like him, but I really wanted to ride him since he threw me off twice. I was making one of my best rides I thought, and right at the whistle he jerked my hand out of the rope and I went sailing. I got off smiling though because I know next time I am going to ride him. Plus, I knew I gave it everything I had, so I couldnít have been happier.

Then we left to for the Division 2 Xtreme Bulls in Oklahoma City. We didnít do any good there. I kind of got thrown on the back of my head and the bull stepped on my chest. I was a little sore and dazed, but that comes with the territory of the sport. We left there and headed right back where we came from to El Paso, N.M., for the afternoon performance. I had an awesome bull and was 81 points. Then we headed home for a few days before we left again, this time for Omaha.

The day we left for Omaha, we bucked some bulls at the house, so that was good fun and I got some practice in. We got up to Omaha a day early because I had a photo shoot with Cingular Wireless. They just picked me up and sponsored me. Thatís really going to help out. Sponsorships help us get down the road and they are a huge part of our success. I have three great sponsors and they make it possible for me to travel and do what I love.

It turned out to be an all day event.

Monty Lewis, Kelly Kaminski, Will Lowe and Cody DeMoss and I were all there. It was cold outside and we were out there all day so we were getting pretty cold. We had a great time though cutting up and laughing. They didnít have any hot chocolate, but they had coffee to help us stay warm. Well, I hadnít ever drank coffee before, so I started drinking it. I had to put about five sugar packs in each cup before I could drink it, and I was wired by the end of the day. I was singing and acting goofy. I guess that stuff really does work. All the people there were great and it was a neat experience. The photographer who did the shoot also does all of Tiger Woodsí promotions and so that was neat to meet him.

The next night was the Tour finale and I was really pumped up because I had a good bull drawn in Harlin Robertsonís White Fang. Harlin is actually one of my sponsors as well. White Fang was raised about 40 miles from my house. They donít ride him very often, but when they do, he always gives a good score. He really blew out of there and bucked hard and I was a 92 on him and won the first go-round. I was pretty excited to start my finale off that way.

The next night I had J Bar J Ranchís Vertical Exit. I had never seen the bull before but they said he was a good bull. While I was in the chute getting ready to ride, he reared up and threw me down in the chute standing. He kept trying to raise up and I was trapped in the chute with him crushing me against the fence. I was yelling for someone to open the gate but they couldnít. Luckily the chute in front was open, so they rolled him up and they pulled me out of there. I had Cody Ohl, who was pulling my rope, in there with Brad trying to get me to safety.

I praised God I wasnít hurt, and know that it could have been a worse situation. I got out of the chute, dusted myself off and got back on the bull. But it didnít finish well either. He bucked me off about half way through the ride. Those times are when itís hard to lose, but thatís just part of it.

I came back the next night and drew Silverado Rodeoís Black Berry Wine. Heís a bull that they donít ride very much, but I was looking forward to getting on him. I was 88 on him and ended up winning the semifinals. In the championship round I drew Rumford Rodeo & Circle A Ranchís Spin Dippin, but got bucked off.

But, there is one more finale to go (ProRodeo Tour Championship Finale in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 10-12) and maybe that last crystal cup has my name on it.

Before we went to Kissimmee, Fla. (Oct. 7), we stopped in Newman, Ga. I was 87 there and won the bull riding and I was pretty excited. Kissimmee was a great bull riding. I had a bull that I didnít really know anything about, Viper of Charlie Lowryís. He was a good bull; he really moved ahead the whole time and made me work. I was 84.5 on him.

The bull riding was great. They had a great set of bulls and the guys made a lot of good rides. In the short round, I drew the bull I had before, Vertical Limits, which is the bull that I tore the ligaments in my hand on a while back. He really bucks hard and turns back to the left. I didnít last but about a jump. He beat me out of the box pretty bad and threw me off. I wanted to do better, but I know I am 100 percent healthy and ready to get on the next one.

There are two more bull ridings left this year and I am really looking forward to those.

Hopefully, I can maybe repeat as the Xtreme Bulls champion. I am really excited about going to Indianapolis for the finals and the FFA Convention. I look forward to getting to meet all the kids and see whatís changed since I was in there so long ago. I am sure some things are different, but I know that the FFA is strong to its values of leadership, respect, tradition, and responsibility. I was so glad to be a part of it and hope to give back to it coming up at the Xtreme Bulls Finals and the National FFA Convention.

I joined the FFA because when I was growing up I wanted to raise cattle and it really helped me learn about which breeds I wanted to raise cows and calves. Plus, it gave me insights into the business aspects of a cattle operation. It was a great learning experience and I think every young person should pursue the FFA. Even if they donít raise animals, the learning experiences with leadership and business knowledge will help you in any field. The FFA is a great organization and I am excited to be a part of it.

The Wrangler NFR is coming up around the corner with Dallas and the Texas Stampede pretty quick too (Nov. 10-12). I always do pretty good there in Dallas. I won it in 2004 and I did pretty well last year. For the past couple of years, Bryan Richardson and I have been switching places for that win. So hopefully this year we can keep the win in Texas.

Headed into the Finals, it would be great to repeat as world champion. But, I am just going to go in there and have fun doing what I do. I am going to put my hand in the rope, and try my hardest and give it everything I got. No matter what happens — win, lose, or draw — I am satisfied. If I give it everything I got, I canít be unhappy. Plus, I know that the good Lord has given me another day and another opportunity to do it again.

Sometimes I lose sight of that and put things before God like worrying about my riding. I try not to do it, but I do. I am thankful for every opportunity and I am going to bear down each and every day and give it the best I can and see what happens.

I am not in the top of the Xtreme Bulls standings, but if I can have a good weekend up there, maybe I can come out on top as the Xtreme Bulls champion. Iím going to go and try hard and give it my all. I thank God for the blessed year I am having again and I am just happy I am now living my dream.

In 2005, Matt Austin shattered the PRCA record for highest single-season earnings with $320,766, surpassing Ty Murray's record of $297,896 set in 1993. Austin not only won the College National Finals Rodeo and the Xtreme Bulls title last year, but also earned his first bull riding world championship and Wrangler NFR average title. Nicknamed "Poindexter" by Donnie Gay, Austin lives in Wills Point, Texas.

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