Love of the sport

Bull riding invitational bucks into Covelli Centre

YOUNGSTOWN — Bryan Titman gave up a scholarship to play football for Texas Christian to challenge critters a lot larger than 300-pound linemen.

The 31-year-old East Bernard, Texas, man rides bucking beasts that weigh 1,500 or more pounds. He is one of the competitors scheduled for the 2020 Professional Bull Riders Youngstown Invitational bucks into the Covelli Centre this weekend.

“My dad and grandpa rode bulls. That’s all I’ve known since I was a little bitty kid,” Titman said during a phone interview this week before hopping a plane for Youngstown.

He began riding animals at age 3, and turned pro 11 years ago.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “It’s feels like riding a roller coaster that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The PBR Youngstown Invitational kicks into action 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Covelli Centre, 229 E. Front St. Tickets range from $18 to $103. Forty bull riders from around the world will compete for more than $10,000 in cash and points toward the 2020 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Championship.

To score points, riders must stay on their bovine mounts for a full 8 seconds. “If you’re on more than 8 seconds, that’s your own time,” Titman said.

A perfect score is 100 points, with 50 points for the bull and 50 for the rider. The bull is judged on how hard it bucks, spins and rolls, and difficulty of ride that it presents. The rider is judged on matching the bull’s moves, form and style, Titman said.

“There’s never been a perfect 100, and there never will,” he said.

Bulls present a different challenge than bucking broncos. Whiles horses jump up and down, bulls also spin, twist and roll. “There’s no set pattern,” he said.

Some riders scout the bulls ahead of time to pick up on tendencies. Titman said he doesn’t bother.

“They’re animals (and can’t be predicted),” he said. “They may do something the same 100 times, and that one day, do something completely different.”

Like the riders, the bulls also are athletes, Titman said. They are treated well and love to perform.

The sport does pose dangers. Titman said he has had a “handful” of injuries, including broken ribs, broken pelvis, broken collar bone, broken arm, broken hip… But he always gets back on the bulls. “I’m still good to go. I feel like I’m 21.

“You’ve got the best guys in the world going against the best beasts in the world.”

And after the shows, spectators often come down to greet the riders and talk about bull riding, he said.

“It’s just a love for the sport,” Titman said.