By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Jet-lagged and showing the wear and tear following a weeklong rodeo tour of Canada, Chris Harris was overjoyed to hear his score.
Wearing a week-old shiner around his left eye, Harris heard the annoucer say "82," grinned and started high-fiving members of the audience as he made his way out of the pen Saturday at the Killeen Rodeo Grounds.
Only the jubilation wasn't for himself, it was for 19-year-old next-door neighbor Chad Rutherford, who scored an 83 on Thursday to win the bareback title at the 65th annual Rodeo Killlen.
"To me, if I'm going to get my (butt) kicked by some kid, I want it to be a kid I taught," joked Harris, a 35-year-old bareback veteran from Itasca.
Rutherford, along with several other younger competitors this weekend, were all students at a boot charity riding school Harris put together several years ago with Rodeo Killeen stock contractor Sammy Andrews.
"The best thing about tonight is when I go call Chad here in a bit and tell him he's the champion of the Killeen PRC Rodeo and he's just going to be pumped," said Harris, last year's champion with an 89. "It's going to make his whole year."
Harris' 82 was still good enough to earn money and a runner-up finish.
"It means a lot to me for him to win because trust me, he busted his (butt) for me around the ranch, he works hard and he's a good kid," Harris said.
Although Harris couldn't snatch a victory Saturday, several other competitors did, including two in bull riding.
Slapping his bull "Big Country" about the head three times to rile up the 2,000-pound creature, 27-year-old Tate Stratton of Kellyville, Okla., wanted to get the most out of his ride.
Despite the bulls winning the day, with only one of the 13-plus competitors scoring that point, Stratton's strategy worked as he held on just long enough - sliding off just as the 8-second bell sounded - for a winning score of 86.
Only he wasn't alone. D.J Domangue of Houma, La., the last rider of the event, equaled his 86 and the two riders will split the first and second place money evenly.
"We're older, we're kind of the veterans of this deal," Stratton explained. "(In bull riding), you're in your prime between 21-25 really."
Although it was Stratton's first ever win at Rodeo Killeen, in his first visit, Domangue won the event in 2005.
"Tate had a better bull tonight ... the one he had was a handful," Domangue said.
Saturday's other champion was Jeremy Ray Melancon of Huntsville, who rode Racketeer in saddle broncing to a score of 79, eclipsing Tate Owen's 78.
"He was just a good hopper that you like to get on and today he had a little more there," Melancon said.
"It's good to win a check to help out, but there's something special about winning first."
In tie-down roping, Jay Hollabaugh of Stephenville won with his Day 2 time of 8.9 seconds. Tim Erickson of Juette had Saturday's best time at 9.6 seconds for runner-up.
Dean Stermer's time of 4.2 seconds on Friday held strong to win the McKinney resident the steer wrestling title. Saturday's best time was an even 5.0 from Mexia's Preston Oyloe.
In barrel racing, Shada Brazile of Decatur registered a Saturday-best time of 17.69 seconds but it wasn't enough to beat Ennis' Mary Walker, who won the event with a 17.31 on Friday.
In team roping, Beeville's Quisto Lopez and Victoria's Jarrett Gutierrez won with a time of 5.0 seconds on Thursday. Stevenville's Luke Brown and Martin Lucero finished second with a Saturday-best time of 5.8 seconds.