By Matt Naber
CALDWELL, Idaho – The stars aligned for bull rider Ruger Piva – he drew the perfect bull for his hometown rodeo while on the bubble in the world standings and in need of a big win to catch up in the ProRodeo Tour.
The Idaho cowboy beat his previous personal-best score of 88 points when he and Powder River Rodeo’s Sweetpro’s Bruiser made a 92-point ride during the 2017 Pendleton Whisky “Let ’er Buck” Bull of the Year’s final trip to the Caldwell (Idaho) Night Rodeo.
“I came here for the first time when I was 20 years old and I thought I would draw Bruiser here one day, and sure enough I looked at the callbacks last week and had him,” said Piva, 24. “Now I’m waiting to wake up from this dream any time now.”
Bruiser was also the top bull at the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and is related to Bodacious (a two-time Bull of the Year and ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee).
“It was like I was floating in the air,” Piva said. “When he was in his prime it could have gone a different way.”
Surrounded by friends and family, there was enough electricity in the air to power Caldwell’s famed lights, as it was the first rodeo in the Pacific Northwest to be held under lights.
“I had to step away and mellow out for a bit and just remember how to ride bulls,” Piva said. “Now that it’s all over, it’s a humbling feeling knowing I got him on his last trip to Caldwell. This is kind of my hometown rodeo since it’s the biggest one closest to me, so this was the win I wanted all year.”
Before winning $7,952 at Caldwell, Piva was 17th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $70,478. Piva has climbed the ranks since his rookie year when he was 37th in the world standings with $41,138 in 2017. He ended the 2018 season 34th with $55,357.
Winning Caldwell will give Piva a much-needed boost in the ProRodeo Tour standings. He was 45th before Caldwell. There’s only a handful of competitions left before the ProRodeo Tour Finale in Puyallup, Wash., Sept. 5-8, so he will need to keep the ball rolling in the coming weeks to make up the 792 points separating him from 24th.
Piva is no stranger to ProRodeo success, winning the 2018 Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days rodeo and the 2017 Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up thanks to one of the two bulls he’d always wanted to ride, Sankey Pro Rodeo & Robinson Bulls’ Percualtor. With Bruiser checked off his to-do list, all that’s left is to qualify for his first Wrangler NFR.
Fans can catch Piva at the Kitsap Stampede in Bremerton, Wash., the Magic Valley Stampede in Filer, Idaho, Walla Walla (Wash.) Frontier Days and the Ellensburg (Wash.) Rodeo.
The only other remaining ProRodeo Tour competition is the Horse Heaven / Kennewick (Wash.) Round-Up.
Other winners at the $327,501 rodeo were all-around cowboy Riley Richard Warren ($3,046, tie-down roping and team roping); bareback rider Kaycee Feild (180 points on two head); steer wrestlers Aaron Vosler and Kodie Jang (13.9 seconds on three head); team ropers Jr. Dees/Lane Siggins (15.4 seconds on three head); saddle bronc rider Mitch Pollock (176.5 points on two head); tie-down roper Tuf Cooper (28.0 seconds on three head); and barrel racer Dona Kay Rule (51.38 seconds on three runs).
For more coverage of the Caldwell Night Rodeo, check out the Aug. 23 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.
Courtesy of PRCA