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Hapney makes strong first impression.

Byline: Chris Hansen The Register-Guard


Levi Hapney made his first appearance at the Eugene Pro Rodeo Saturday night. After a stellar performance in the saddle bronc competition, he promised it wouldn't be his last.

Hapney, a 22-year-old from Phillip, S.D., scored an 81 to hold the lead after the opening night of action before an estimated crowd of 5,000 at the Oregon Horse Center.

"This was lots of fun," Hapney, who has spent the past three summers working the rodeo circuit in the Northwest.

"Shoot, all these fans are behind you whether you had a good ride or a bad one."

For the record, Hapney's was a good ride.

His mark tied the third-best score in the history of the Eugene Pro Rodeo, and was the highest since J. L. Schaffner also scored an 81 in 1995.

"I got that horse about a month ago, and I had heck with her," Hapney said.

"She was good tonight. Horses, bulls, steers, they're all like humans. They have their good days and their bad days. You never know. But today she was perfect."

Meaning she was perfectly ornery, bucking and jumping and kicking for the full 8 seconds.

"You want something that's going to try and throw your head in the dirt," Hapney said. "That's how you make the money."

For bull rider Vic Dubray, just finishing a ride was victory enough, though it didn't hurt that he also ended the night first in the standings and with a little day money in his pocket.

The 38-year-old veteran cowboy from La Grande is attempting a comeback of sorts.

His body sore from 25 years of riding bulls, Dubray took nearly a year off after last summer to contemplate his future in the sport.

"It just wasn't fun anymore," said Dubray, the 2004 Columbia River Circuit champion and a Dodge National Circuit Championship qualifier. "It took a year to go home and think about it."

Dubray made his official comeback two weeks ago at a rodeo in Sisters but didn't record a score until he posted a 77 with his ride on Saturday.

"I was happy just to get a ride," Dubray said.

"I've been rusty, for sure, but this is the start to my (Fourth of July) run, so it feels good."

Dubray was one of only two competitors in Saturday's field of 10 to finish a bull ride. Colby Reilly of Stratford, Wash., scored a 71.

As for his score, Dubray was optimistic it would hold up through the second and third rounds scheduled for Monday and Tuesday night, respectively.

"It won't win first, but it'll place I think," Dubray said.

Dustin Mulrony had similar thoughts. The Pomeroy, Wash., cowboy is tied for the lead with Noah Bayes of Adrian in the bareback competition with a score of 75.

"There's lots of good riders still out there who could bump a guy," Mulrony said. "And they also have some real good horses here."

Buster Barton of Walla Walla, Wash., posted a time of 5.9 seconds to lead the steer wrestling event, Clay Schricker of Adrian leads the tie down roping with a time of 11.1 seconds.

In the team roping, the Lewiston, Idaho, duo of Brian Hill and Jason Fisher recorded a time of 7.9 seconds, and Viki Friedrich finished first in the barrel racing at 17.96 seconds.

The Firecracker Bull Ride will take place tonight, a bulls-only event with 40 bull riders vying for cash and prizes. Start time is 7:30.


Nathan Bayes got a 66 for his effort in the bareback competition.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 2, 2006

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