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Young guns take home big bull riding checks.

Byline: Chris Hansen The Register-Guard

During the two-day run of the Eugene Pro Rodeo, the bucking bulls stole the spotlight from the cowboys.

Saturday night, a pair of kids took it back.

Ned Cross and Markus Mariluch - teen-agers not even finished with their high school rodeo careers - upstaged both the bulls and more than three dozen veteran professional riders at the fourth annual Firecracker Bullride to win nearly $7,200 combined.

The event, held in conjunction with the Eugene rodeo, drew an estimated capacity crowd of 6,500 to the Oregon Horse Center. They didn't leave disappointed.

Cross, an 18-year-old from Dorris, Calif., and Mariluch, 17, from Elko, Nev., were two of eight cowboys to advance out of the first round and the only ones to record successful rides in the championship round.

Cross was tied for second place with a score of 86 after his first ride, then scored an 85 to finish in first place. He picked up a check for $4,483, a custom-made jacket and Winchester .22 rifle.

"I felt good, felt perfect," said Cross, who will travel with Mariluch to New Mexico in July for the National High School Rodeo championships. "Both times out I just wanted to do the same thing, and that's just try your guts out."

Mariluch was in fifth place after the first round with 77 points. In the championship round, he scored a 75 to stay behind Cross, but his overall score was good enough for $2,695.

"It was real nice to be successful tonight," Mariluch said. "I got a real feel of what it's like to be a pro."

During the two days of the Eugene rodeo, only three cowboys out of 30 recorded a legal eight-second ride. On Saturday, 40 cowboys took a turn in the first round, with the eight who completed successful rides advancing to the championship round.

The leader after round one was Jarod Hunter with 87 points, though he didn't last but a few seconds on his second bull. Still, he went home with $1,595 for winning the first round.

Tied with Cross after one ride was Willie Smith, a 42-year-old cowboy from Roseburg who is a five-time Columbia River circuit champion and the winner of the first Firecracker Bullride in 2000.

Smith was the last rider to go in the championship round and got bucked over the head of his bull around the seven-second mark.

That he lost out to a pair of kids whose combined age still doesn't match his own was not lost on the 25-year veteran.

"I love to see the young kids ride good, it makes me really happy," said Smith, who still won $1,183. "It's been awhile since we've had any young guys come up."

CAPTION(S):

Bryan Barker of Bandera, Texas, flies through the air after being bucked off a bull Saturday night. Thomas Boyd / The Register-Guard Clayton Graham of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, contends with the fence and his bull during Saturday's action.
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Title Annotation:Teen-agers Ned Cross and Markus Mariluch finish 1-2 at the Firecracker Bullride; Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 6, 2003
Words:499
Previous Article:Road Report.
Next Article:Sound Off.


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