By: Kendra Santos
Trying to tear Riley Duvall away from his brand new baby boy that’s set to get out of a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital today to come to Rodeo Corpus Christi took nothing short of a boot in his bulldogger butt by wife Megan. Cruze James Rider Duvall arrived at 6 a.m. last Saturday morning, and was kept in town a few days just to be on the safe side. Today’s the day Cowboy Cruze gets to go home to his Steer Wrestling Capital of the World hometown of Checotah, Oklahoma, and Daddy Riley would have given just about anything to be there to welcome him home himself. But he made the most of this day away by winning Round 1 in 3.81 seconds.
“I didn’t want to leave my wife and baby in the hospital. But my wife’s competitive, so she wanted me to come win some money,” said three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Duvall, who’s from the family of rodeo royals that started with Grandpa Bill and Great Uncle Roy, then Dad Sam and Uncle Spud before Riley took the torch. “Megan’s sort of a super hero. She said she could handle it, no problem.”
Cruze will get to meet his 5-year-old big sister, Cheney, back home in Checotah today. Riley will run his second steer here at Rodeo Corpus Christi tomorrow in hopes of advancing to the Progressive Round, which starts Thursday night at the American Bank Center, with the top 24 in the two-steer average and the three cowboys ranked #2-4 on the World Champions Rodeo Alliance leaderboard. The leaderboard #1—Canadian cowboy Scott Guenthner—will meet up with them all in Sunday’s Showdown Round.
This was actually Riley’s second rodeo road trip since Cruze was born three days ago. He left the first time when his son was less than a day old to compete Sunday at the Guymon (Oklahoma) Pioneer Days Rodeo, where he placed third. Riley’s again riding Trever Nelson’s bulldogging horse Dr Pepper here in Corpus, and has Nelson over on the hazing side.
“It was really hard to leave home, but I’m glad to be here,” Duvall said. “It pays good, and we don’t have to pay any entry fees to compete here. And anytime Trever lets me ride this horse, I try to show up.”
Like the rest of his family, Riley’s known to be there on the hazing side for a lot of his bulldogger buddies. In fact, he’s hazing for seven cowboy friends here at Rodeo Corpus Christi, riding both his horse Cash and Shane Frey’s Blue.
“Bulldoggers are known for helping each other, and the bulldoggers are the best group of guys,” said Duvall, who only had $104 invested in WCRA nominations to be here. “Nobody hollers for or helps each other more than the bulldoggers. Everybody pulls for everybody. We’re like a fraternity.”
Duvall will run at least one more steer on Wednesday before his 11-hour drive home.
“I’m anxious to get home, but we don’t have many opportunities like this out there, where we can run for good money without paying entry fees,” he said. “This Corpus Christi committee has always been great. When you show up, it’s laid back, they’re glad you’re here and there aren’t any hassles about parking or anything else. Last time I was here, they had a cowboy crawfish boil. This year, they’re barbecuing fajitas for us. Rodeoing for a living is hard. We don’t get treated like this everywhere we go, so when we do, we sure appreciate it.”
Rounding out the top four in today’s Round 1 of steer wrestling were Cookeville, Tennessee, cowboy Palmer White, 4.12; Moorcroft, Wyoming, native Nelson, 4.55; and Tanner Milan of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, 4.63. So yes, Dr Pepper got two of the top-four checks, and no, Duvall’s not exaggerating when he talks about how good a horse he is.