Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009 | 12:51 a.m.
Clayton Baethge entered the Championship Bull Riding World Championship 7 at the South Point Hotel and Casino sitting at 13th in the CBR 2008 standings. He had previously earned just $7,000 on the CBR circuit and was not one of the favorites to take the world title.
Saturday night the favorites started to fall and Baethge crept to the top of the leader board. He ended up in first place, leaving with world title and $39,000.
“It’s the biggest thrill of my life,” Baethge said. “Ever since I was a little boy I’ve wanted to be a world champion bull rider.”
Baethge was the average point winner (181.5) for the weekend, which vaulted him to the top of the CBR standings.
He was one of 15 riders who advanced to the final round, which puts the cowboys up against the toughest bulls in the arena. None of the cowboys was able to stay on the bulls for the full eight seconds in the final round.
“You don’t see that very often,” CBR President Tuff Hedeman said. “In the short go, not many people can ride that caliber of bulls.”
After all of the riders failed to score any points in the short round, Baethge’s first two rounds were enough up to secure him the World Championship.
“I really didn’t know I was going to win,” Baethge said. “I was just hoping.”
Friday’s round one winner, Cooper Kanngiesser, had a tough day Saturday. Kanngiesser, who competed with stitches in his lip after a bull’s horn caught him in the mouth Friday, entered Saturday as the leader in overall standings.
In two rides Saturday, Kanngiesser failed to score any points.
Danny McDowell, the CBR points leader coming into the weekend, had to watch the short round from behind the gate after a regrettable decision in round two. McDowell initially scored an 82, but the judges awarded him the option of a re-ride.
Instead of sticking with his original score, which would have advanced him to the short round, McDowell took the re-ride and failed to stay on the bull for eight seconds. This moved him out of the top-15 finishers and out of the final round.
The top five finishers behind Baethge this weekend were Logan Knibbe (181), Cody White (178.5), Wesley Silcox (177.5), Chance Smart (176), Elliot Jacoby (174.5).