By: Justin Felisko September 07, 2014@ 12:00:00 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One is a two-time World Champion Bull and the other is in the hunt for his first, but regardless of the past and future colliding at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night with different-styled outs, both Bushwacker and Mick E Mouse were left standing as two of the top bulls.
The duo earned 46-point bull scores to make it three consecutive Built Ford Tough Series events with a different bull finishing atop the leaderboard.
“Whether it is Mick E Mouse, Asteroid or Air Time, they are all going to be his competition,” Bushwacker’s owner Julio Moreno said. “He is just going to have to keep stepping up and doing it.”
Mick E Mouse’s owner Marlene Henry added, “I am just really proud to have that caliber of a bull and be (in contention) with those bulls. It is awesome just to be there. You couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Well, Cody Nance and Matt Triplett may have wanted to ask for a mulligan following buckoffs during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
Nance first brought everyone in attendance to their feet when he climbed into the bucking chute after the local product, who lives two hours away in Paris, Tennessee, challenged Bushwacker for the fourth time in his career – and second time in four weeks.
“Oh yeah, everybody was videoing and hollering,” he said. “When I picked him, I felt that energy.”
Nance was in good position leaving the chute, but things began to go awry once Bushwacker decided to turn back to his right, away from Nance’s hand. He then was able to rocket the 2009 Rookie of the Year over the front end to the dismay of the Tennessee crowd at the 4.88-second mark.
“Every time,” Nance said while dragging his bull rope to the locker room. “You don’t have time to think on that bull. You just ride him jump for jump. Heck, he went left, it felt good. When he went back to the right, I headed up and had him. The bull is just smart. He left me back there and pulled me down. He is just too strong to ever get your arm straight.”
It was the last time in the regular season that a rider could select Bushwacker in the championship round. Bushwacker’s remaining outs before the Built Ford Tough World Finals are 15/15 Bucking Battles in Laughlin, Nevada, and Huntington Beach, California, and he is a $50,000 bonus bull for the Oakland, California, event winner.
Moreno called the out similar to Bushwacker’s match with Mike Lee in Salinas, California, in July at a Touring Pro Division event where Bushwacker left the chute a little more sluggish than normal before turning it on.
He said Bushwacker may have even turned back once he caught a glimpse of the bullfighters.
“He was alright tonight. I really liked him, but he was different,” Moreno said. “He was probably going to stay fired up to the right with Cody, and Cody was ready for it. He just beat him over there. He kind of saw the bullfighters coming over and it got his attention.”
This weekend was the first event in four BFTS outs where the 8-year-old was a high-marked bull. Bushwacker last held the distinction when he earned a 45.25-point bull score in Fresno, California, for bucking off L.J. Jenkins in 1.45 seconds.
Bushwacker has now been marked 46 points or higher in seven of his 10 BFTS outs during his farewell tour.
He wasn’t alone in Nashville though, as Mick E Mouse busted forward from the bucking chute before Triplett slipped out over the 6-year-old bull in 3.43 seconds.
Mick E Mouse has bucked off all 24 of his opponents in three years.
For Mick E Mouse, the 46-point score was another monument for the world title contender after missing nearly five months with a right hip injury.
“He is getting there,” Henry said. “It is just taking him a while from his injury. I knew he was going to be back. He has felt good all week and all weekend. I could tell he was getting back to himself.”
The bull has progressively gotten better in each second-half out. He was first marked 44.5 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in mid-August for bucking off Nathan Schaper in 2.96 seconds. Mick E Mouse then picked up 45.75 points last week after taking care of J.W. Harris at the 7.47-second mark in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
After witnessing four different bulls finish as high-marked bulls in the first three events of the second half, Moreno and Henry concluded that it just reiterates how close things will be next month at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“It is just coming down to the Finals and who will have the two best trips,” Moreno said.
Henry finished, “It really, truly comes down to those last two events at World Finals.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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