Will Centoni, two rodeos into his professional career, hasn’t yet decided what to do with his first check.
Will he earmark it toward a future entry fee? Take his family and friends out to dinner? Deposit it into savings? Gas money? Mount it on the wall for a keepsake?
Centoni, 19, will figure it out. All he knows is he’s no longer blank on the “career prize money” department. He has $754.15, and he wants to think more is on the way.
“I’ll save it, or go to more rodeos, or spend it,” he said. “I probably will try to go to more rodeos with it next summer.”
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Centoni, a graduate of Hollister’s San Benito High not too long ago, won’t forget the 65th Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo.
His fifth-place finish in bull riding, thanks to a 75-point ride aboard a counter-clockwise spinning beast named Dougie Fresh, wasn’t as important as the following: Twenty-four cowboys tried their luck Sunday in the mud and slop of the Oakdale Saddle Club Arena, and 23 were tossed away like leaves in a windstorm.
Only Centoni, the reigning California saddle bronc high school champion and two-time bull riding runner-up, lasted the required eight seconds. That he still trailed eventual champion Kurtis Turner, whose 84 during Saturday’s performance held up for the win, hardly mattered.
23-1 Only one successful bull ride out of 24 Sunday at Oakdale
Here’s what resonates in the Centoni household: Will, a freshman at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, has begun to make a living.
“I’m young. I have a lot of time,” said the teenager who follows in the rodeo footsteps of his father and uncle. “There are a lot of years left in me.”
He’ll get no argument from the cowboys who spent most of the day just trying not to drown on the soupy arena floor. Small ponds existed where six-inch-deep mud did not, and a second change of clothes was needed by nearly everyone. Both the bulls and the broncs, as much less the crowd of about 3,500, seemed to delight in the cowboys’ mounting laundry bills.
Sopping wet Idaho steer wrestler Stetson Jorgensen, seconds after he earned his own check, heard this from announcer Jody Carper: “Probably enough to pay for his dry cleaning.”
It fit the day’s overall mood, though bareback rider Jake Olson probably wouldn’t agree. He was knocked cold by Sweet Annie, who pushed Olson forward, then reared back her head and – as one cowboy mused in the bucking chutes – “caught him between the ears.” Olson walked off with probably only a headache to show for his effort.
Conversely, Montana’s Tucker Zingg rode away tall with a well-deserved bareback title. He negotiated high-flying Virgil, a candidate for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bucking horse of the year, for 84 points.
Another big winner was Ben Londo of San Luis Obispo, who won the saddle bronc championship by scoring 82 points on Tuxedo Kate. He topped, among others, brothers and former world champions Jesse and Spencer Wright. Jesse eventually placed fifth and Spencer was sixth. In fact, the four Wright brothers all cashed in the same event.
Absent from Sunday’s show was Utah roper Rhen Richard, the Oakdale all-around champion for the second straight year. He dominated tie-down roping with wins in the first go-round and the aggregate, good for a payout of more than $3,200.
Cody Snow of Los Olivos and Dugan Kelly of Paso Robles nailed down the aggregate title in team roping. The muddy conditions slowed all times over the weekend in barrel racing, and competitors during Friday’s slack – before the storm – caught the luck of the draw. The fastest that day was Morgan Breaux of Tomball, Texas, the eventual champion with a time of 17.58 seconds.
The top local performance was turned in by Oakdale’s Troy Michael Murray, who placed fifth in the aggregate of tie-down roping. Oakdale bull rider Dylan Vick scored a 74 on Saturday and finished sixth.
I’m young. I have a lot of time. There are a lot of years left in me.
Hollister bull rider Will Centoni
But overall, most of Sunday’s entries were better off than the cowboys who struggled in Saturday’s wind and rain. Most thankful was Centoni, the teenager who made his first official mark in the pro rodeo world.
“Good bull, good ride,” he quickly assessed. “It (the mud) doesn’t really change anything unless it’s raining. The rain makes it harder on your gear to keep it dry.”
No matter. Today, he has money in his pocket.
Oakdale Rodeo All-Around Champions
2013--Jim Ross Cooper
1993--Jerold Camarillo/Ed Hirdes
1988--D. R. Daniels
1966--John W. Jones
1948--Ike Rude/Willie Clay