Bucked Boyers stays in national hunt

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Even the best rodeo athletes get bucked.

Matt Boyers, who just weeks ago graduated from Poplar Bluff High School, hit the dirt in three events Thursday night at the Missouri High School Rodeo State Finals. But by Friday Boyers was back on the saddle and ready to reclaim his top spot in the saddle bronc and bareback competitions.

"Yeah, I had a bad night last night," Boyers said. "It was a tough night, but that's the way it goes."

Even with Boyers' falls, he was in the top four in bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback competitions after the first round at Flickerwood Arena near Jackson. Boyers is trying to qualify for the nationals for the second consecutive year.

"All year I've been pretty consistent," Boyers said. "If I do bad in one event I'd do well in the next two."

In the Boyers family, competing in rodeos is a birthright. Matt's sister rides, his dad and grandfather both competed and his great-grandfather was a stock contractor. Boyers will continue his rodeo career at Murray State, where he has earned a scholarship for the fall.

"It's kind of a family thing," Boyers said.

While Boyers excels in all three riding events, he has the most experience in bull riding.

"Bull riding is probably my favorite," Boyers said. "It's an adrenaline rush. There's nothing like the feeling during and after a good ride."

After competing since childhood, Boyers doesn't let the highs and lows of his sport get to him.

"Once it's over you can't do anything about it," he said. "You just have to put it behind you."

For Boyers, Thursday night is already a distant memory. And with his place in the top four cemented in the bareback and saddle bronc riding, Boyers stands likely to make the trip to the national finals in Farmington, N.M. The national finals is the largest single rodeo with more than 1,500 contestants from 38 states, Canada and Australia.

Boyers said at an event as big as the national finals, nerves go out the window.

"I think you don't get nervous as much if you get bucked off because most people won't remember if you got bucked off or not," he said.

The state finals will continue today at Flickerwood with the completion of the second round and the championships. The top 12 in each event will qualify for the championship round, which is at 7 p.m.

Several other area competitors remain in position to qualify for the national finals.

Delta's Brent Menz is fourth after the first round in the steer wrestling competition and fifth in bull riding. Charleston's Evin and Sam Burke are clinging to fourth place in the team roping contest, leading the fifth-place team by one point. Amber Boyers, Matt Boyers' sister, is fourth in barrel racing.

Jackson's Ty Atchison is second in steer wrestling, and with a strong effort in the second round of the saddle bronc competition Atchison has solidified his position in the top four in that event as well.

"I feel like a champ," Atchison said after his second-round saddle bronc performance.

Atchison, competing in his third state finals, is trying to qualify for his third straight national finals.

"It's a blast," Atchison said of the national finals. "You get to meet so many different people. It's a totally different experience."

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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