(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) JW Harris, rides "Bush Baby" to an 78 point ride to put him at 4th in the Bullriding competition in The Days of '47 Rodeo at EnergySolutions Arena, Friday, July 19, 2013.

Days of ’47 Rodeo: Saddle bronc field opens up as defending champ is bucked

Defending champion DeMoss rides with injured knee, is thrown before posting a score.

First Published Jul 19 2013 09:35 pm
Last Updated Jul 20 2013 05:04 pm

There will be a new saddle bronc champion at the Days of ’47 Rodeo.

On opening night of the 2013 event, defending champion Heith DeMoss of Heflin, La., failed to post a score.

Riding despite a sore knee, DeMoss was thrown just a fraction before completing his eight-second ride.

In all, five of the 11 competitors in the saddle bronc competition failed to post a score in the first go-around. Joaquin Real of Woody, Calif., and Jade Blackwell of Rapid City, S.D., took the lead after the opening round with identical 81s.

It’s been a hit-and-miss season for DeMoss, a 28-year-old who is a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier.

He already has 10 wins to his credit, including titles at Laramie, Wyo.; Fort Smith, Ark.; and Silver City, N.M. But he is only 13th on the season’s money list with earnings of $31,620.

"My rides are either dang good and I win the rodeo or they are so poor I hardly place," said Moss. "But for the most part, it’s going all right. I’m keeping my head above water."

An hour before the start of the Days of ’47, DeMoss sat on a table in the Justin Sports Medicine room, deep within the arena.

He leaned against a wall as Dr. Pepper Murray worked on his extremely sore left knee, which he injured only 24 hours earlier in Salinas, Calif.

"I just got bucked off and came down on my saddle," DeMoss said. "My knee landed right in the middle of it. It swelled up, got all big and looked as ugly as heck."

Glancing at Murray, DeMoss smiled.

"When you’ve got him here — and all the Justin Sports Medicine people — they take care of you like Mama would," he said. "... The older I get, the more I realize how lucky we are these guys are here. I can’t imagine doing it without them."

DeMoss is locked in a close fight for a berth in the 2013 National Finals Rodeo in December. The top 15 money-winners in each event qualify so, at No. 13, he has to keep winning to punch his ticket to Las Vegas.

"That’s a goal," DeMoss said. "I’ve been there before and I’d like to go back. But I’ve got my sights set on the world championship. That’s the next step. That’s what I want next."

Like all rodeo contestants, DeMoss’ schedule in July will remain hectic.

He was supposed to compete in Ogden on Saturday night, but he will bypass the event because he is also entered in the rich Frontier Days Rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo.

After that, DeMoss returns to Utah on July 24 for the Fiesta Days Rodeo in Spanish Fork.

Sore knee or not, DeMoss said, "You’ve got to keep going."

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