J.W. Harris and Guytin Tsosie are on opposite sides of the bull riding spectrum.
Harris is a 28-year-old Texan, the married father of two young children and a four-time PRCA world champion who has earned more than $1.7 million during his career.
Harris won $252,829 last year.
Tsosie is a 22-year cowboy from a small town located in the northwest corner of New Mexico on the Navajo Nation.
Tsosie estimates he won $15,000 a year ago, including his Indian National Finals Rodeo title.
But for the last three weeks, Harris and Tsosie have been tied together in the Professional Bull Rides Built Ford Tough Series.
The two received an invite a month ago to compete at the PBR’s highest level.
“They got a hold of me when I was at RodeoHouston,” said Harris. “They said, ‘We want you in three BFTS events.’ I would have been stupid to turn it down.”
The invitation took a little longer to reach Tsosie.
“They got a hold of my dad and he relayed the message to me,” he said. “I jumped at it. It’s a great opportunity.”
The Stanley Performance in Action at Rimrock Auto Arena is the final event for their invitation.
The PBR Billings event concludes with a 2 p.m. Sunday performance at Rimrock Auto Arena.
The 35 competitors will ride in one final round with the top 15 advancing to the championship round.
Harris and Tsosie share another trait: the ability to ride bulls under the bright lights.
Last week, Harris placed second at Nampa, Idaho, for $18,180, while Tsosie was third for $12,527. Tsosie also placed seventh at Albuquerque, N.M.
“You treat it like another bull riding,” explained Harris. “When it’s the PBR or a rodeo with $1,000 added. I have to show up and ride my bulls.
“It has been nice to be home during the week and be with the kids. I’ve only had to fly to one place instead of driving 12 hours to get to another rodeo.”
Harris was 87 points on Friday night to place third in Billings, but was bucked off on Saturday.
Tsosie shared first place in the round with Harve Stewart, both putting up 88-point scores.
“I’m actually surprised how well I’m doing,” Tsosie said. “My confidence level is skyrocketing, knowing I can ride at this level. My plan is to just ride my bulls. I just love to ride bulls. The bulls here are tough to handle, but you have to respond. This has turned out way better than I thought it would.”
Tsosie was also tossed from his second bull.
The two will have to be among the top 30 in the standings if they are to remain in the BFTS events.
After Saturday, Tsosie is 28th and Harris 30th. Each improved eight places the last two nights.
“I want to stay in the top 30 and see where it goes from there,” said Harris. “If next week I’m in the top 30, I’ll be going to Des Moines (April 26-27).”
And Tsosie will alter his 2014 schedule.
“I planned to just ride bulls in my area,” he said. “This has changed my plans … a lot.”
NOTES: Rookie of the year contender Gage Gay won for the second straight night, taking Good News for an 87-point ride for $3,580. Gay, no relation to bull riding legend Donnie Gay, won Friday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle for $7,000. … There were only 10 qualified rides on Saturday night. … Five bull riders — Kasey Hayes, Matt Triplett, Cody Nance, Silvano Alves and Jordan Hupp — go into the third round with two bulls covered. … Nance and Hupp declined re-rides to stay safe in the average. … Triplett, of Columbia Falls, has become the hometown favorite. He rode his third bull of the weekend, Vetex’s Get Smacked for 84 points and fourth place. … Robson Palermo did not ride Saturday after suffering a shoulder injury on Friday.