Steamboat Springs Hayden bull rider Jake Booco spent his summer with one eye on his sport and one on his impending wedding, which went off without a hitch Sept. 12.
The split focus reduced his time on the road, but it amounted to the most efficient winning season in the 25-year-old’s career, and he capped off a strong summer last weekend by winning the Dodge Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo in Denver.
Booco rode all three of his bulls for the weekend. He logged an 80-point ride on X-44 to finish second and win $867 in the first round, finished just out of the money atop Rant and Rave in the second round and then dominated Babe in the third, using the highest-scoring ride of the weekend, 86, to net $1,157.
One of just two riders to stay with bulls in all three rounds, Booco won out with his average points, and he earned an extra $1,735 and the circuit finals championship belt buckle.
“It’s a pretty prestigious win,” Booco admitted. “It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever won.”
Booco came away with more than just the $3,759 he accumulated in winnings, too. He earned a spot in the National Circuit Finals Rodeo from April 7 to 10 in Pocatello, Idaho.
In two previous trips to the Mountain States finals, Booco fell flat, failing to register a score on even one bull.
It was all different Friday and Saturday, however. He said he got lucky with his draws and then rode each animal very well. Finally, after he survived eight seconds of leaping, spinning spasms from Babe, his third bull, he secured the win.
He said winning the trip to Pocatello was as important as anything else.
“That’s the next best thing to the Wrangler National Finals in Vegas,” he said. “I think I opened a lot of eyes that had overlooked me in the past. This will really wake them up.”
Booco said his light summer schedule helped prime him for the big win.
Rather than spend the whole summer in a pickup or waiting in an airport, he traveled less and won more.
He’s now biding his time, working in Hayden and waiting to ride in a few small winter rodeos before firing back up for what he hopes is another big season in 2010 and the Circuit Finals in Idaho.
“I felt real good this year, and after this last weekend, coming off a big win, I’m ready to go,” Booco said.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail email@example.com