SUNDRE – He might not have taken home any championship titles or prize buckles, but a local bull rider has every reason to keep his chin up after earning quite a few bucks and placing among the of top the talent pool to perform at the 2023 Canadian Finals Rodeo.
Wyatt Gleeson, who was among a contingent of 12 bull riders that qualified to compete in Red Deer at Westerner Park’s Peavey Mart Centrium on Nov. 1-5, spoke with the Albertan on the morning of Monday, Nov. 6 while packing up and getting ready to head out from the hotel.
“I definitely let a couple of bulls slip that I shouldn’t have,” said Gleeson. “But that’s just kind of part of it. I definitely didn’t go down without swinging a little bit.”
After getting bucked off on opening night, he bounced back unfazed to secure the top score with 86.75 points during the second round of performances. The third and fourth performances didn’t pan out in his favour, with the bull rider unable to hang on for the full eight seconds in either of those rounds. But he once again managed to turn things around in the fifth ride, when he not only clocked the full eight seconds but also took first place for that performance with a score of 86 points.
“They’ve been really good. We select the best bulls in Canada,” he said when asked about the livestock.
“We have a list of a few hundred bulls and we go through them and see if they’re good enough to be there,” he said, adding there are no “duds” to be found at the CFR.
After securing the top score in two out of five performances, Gleeson went into the sixth and final ride on Sunday and despite a good start ended up getting bucked off after about six seconds.
“I tried my butt off and took a couple of hard slammings, but that’s just because I was kind of going for it,” he said. “A couple of bulls just threw me down to the ground pretty good and made me a little bit sore, but nothing out of the ordinary.”
Gleeson said he was proud that he didn’t hold back and that he went for it without hesitation. To boot, he despite being bucked off a few times reported feeling no worse for wear.
“I’m feeling really good, actually. Last year I was pretty beat up but this year, I feel pretty good,” he said. “Just like last year was a big learning curve for me, this year was a huge learning curve for me and I expect some very big things for next year.”
According to results posted online by CFR, Gleeson ranked fourth overall, with combined CFR and season earnings to date amounting to a little more than $41,900.
Edgar Durazo, from Mexico, ranked first with combined season and CFR earnings of almost $59,130, while Jared Parsonage, from Saskatchewan, placed second with combined season and CFR earnings of almost $60,400. Ashton Sahli, from Lacombe, was in third with overall earnings of almost $16,280.
“It’s pretty steep,” Gleeson said about the competition. “All of the guys, they’ve been riding really good coming up to this point, and then when you get to the finals, it adds that little bit more pressure, a little bit more money, the crowds are a little bit rider, everyone rides to the occasion.”
But come first or last, he said that getting another round of performances at the CFR notched on the proverbial belt indicates he’s right where he should be.
“To make the CFR is an accomplishment,” he said. “But to do it back-to-back years is another big accomplishment and it just definitely sort of solidifies your spot as one of the top bull riders in the country...it’s definitely proving it more and more that I definitely belong at the top.”
And his season is not even yet done.
Next up, Gleeson will be competing on Nov. 17-18 in Edmonton at Rogers Place at the Canadian Professional Bull Riders finals, where he is ranked sixth.
“They have a $100,000 bonus for the Canadian champion at that one,” he said. “It’s a really big deal and it’s going to be some pretty badass bull riding; so, I’m looking forward to that one and then going to the circuit finals.”
Then, he’ll be headed out to Regina, Sask., to ride a few more bulls while aiming to earn a few more bucks at the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals, which take place Nov. 22-25.