Sanders' James takes Mega Bucks crown

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

CHURCH ROCK, N.M., May 31, 2012

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(Courtesy photo)

TOP: In a one-shot deal, Mega Bucks winner Troy James spurs Steel Water for an 88-point ride in last Sunday night's short round at Red Rock Park. That ride earned the Sanders, Ariz., cowboy the title with an aggregate of 168.5 points as he beat Joseph McConnel of Bloomfield by a mere half-point.

SECOND FROM THE TOP: After a couple of jumps, Tuba City bull rider Lane Granger failed to make the whistle in the short round of the Mega Bucks bull riding at Red Rock Park last Sunday night. Granger was hoping to defend his crown, but he got injured during the long-go performance, which hindered his ability to ride.

THIRD FROM TOP: Table Mesa bull rider Guytin Tsosie gets early control on Dirty Durban, but later in his ride Tsosie was pushed out of position and got bucked off.

A s the first rider out in the short-round performance of the Mega Bucks bull riding, Troy James had a lot to think about.

The Sanders, Ariz., bull rider was having second thoughts about his chances of coming out on top since he didn't have a choice in picking his bull.

Instead, he was left with the bull called Steel Water since he was the last cowboy to make the short round with the 80.5-point score he earned in the long go.

And after making the whistle, the technically sound bull rider let his emotions take over as he threw his hat across the arena floor at Red Rock Park Sunday night.

His try earned him the event's top score of 88 points for the two-day event.

"Honestly, I was wanting to try a couple of different bulls," he admitted. "But I'm glad it worked out because Steel Water made me work and he bumped me into first place."

Still he had to wait for the seven other bull riders to mount up and one-by-one they found the red dirt unattractive as the short-round bulls took ownership of the arena.

However, it was Bloomfield cowboy Joseph McConnel who found a way to give James a run for his money.

The recent Bloomfield High graduate didn't have any trouble covering his bull and he nearly knocked James out of first place with his 82-point ride.

"I've been on him before and actually I was 90 on him," McConnell said of his short-go draw Brody. "But he's kind of slowing down these days."

With that, James finished the aggregate with 168.5 points while McConnell, the 2010 Mega Bucks winner, came in second with 168.

"I think I did pretty good and you know it was all good," McConnel said, who pocketed $3,200. "I was planning on winning a check here and that's what I tried to do."

For James, the victory was worth a hefty $6,000.

Before this year, he didn't have much luck in placing at this event, which is sponsored by Ty Arviso, a former bull rider.

"It's been getting bigger and bigger every year," James said. "I think this is the biggest it's been since it started. I'm just happy that I won this deal. It's a good feeling to ride in front of these little kids because they all look up to us."

Before coming into this year's event, James was wearing a cast on his free hand and he decided to cut it off since he got disqualified in a local show two weeks ago.

"They said I touched my bull with my cast," James said.

Last year's winner, Lane Granger, had his hopes of a repeat cut short when he hurt his shoulder as his bull - Estefan - slammed him into the ground just before he was ready to dismount.

Afterwards the Tuba City cowboy had a hard time lifting his free hand and it showed in the short round performance.

"I couldn't lift my shoulder up," Granger said, who needed help gathering his gear. "I thought about (forgoing) my short-go ride but I just got on."

Still he produced the best score of 87.5 points in the long go and pocketed an extra $500 to go along with his $2,000 he earned in the average.

Larren Dailey finished in fourth place with 82.5 points. In the short round he was bucked off a bull called Mega Bucks and he had to be carried out of the arena with what appeared to be a broken leg.

The White Mountain Apache bull rider was paid $1,200 for his efforts.

Table Mesa, N.M., bull rider Guytin Tsosie tied Chon Miranda for fifth place as both riders finished the average with 81.5 points.

In the long go round, Tsosie seemed to have made a brilliant ride but after his score was announced it provoked jeers and boos from the crowd.

"He had a lot of air in him and he just carried me," Tsosie said of his first-round bull.

As for his short-round bull, Tsosie said he was knocked out of position as Dirty Durbon got the best of him.

"He was a good bull and probably one of the rankest bulls in there," he said. "That's why I chose him but it didn't work out."

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