WEST VALLEY CITY — It only took eight seconds for Alex Dudley's luck to go from the worst he's had in five years to as good as it gets.
"This has been the worst year I've had in the last five years," said Dudley, who changed his luck with a bull ride that brought the near-sellout crowd at the E Center to their feet during the final night of competition of the Days of '47 Rodeo.
Dudley has struggled both mentally and physically this season, and he said he knows qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo this year is an impossible dream.
"The last two days I've had the flu," said the 23-year-old Salem man. "I feel very fatigued, and I've been fighting my head. ... Riding bulls is 99 percent mental."
Dudley mastered both challenges when he managed to do what only one other cowboy did on Saturday night — make the whistle.
When Dudley drew Tiggered, he knew what he was getting into — or in his case, on top of — even if it was just for eight seconds.
"I got on him in Lehi three weeks ago," he said. "He threw me off in less than two seconds. ... I knew he'd be good."
The question for Dudley was whether or not he would be good enough to contend with the ferocious bull, who took a flying leap out of the chute, to start the showdown.
"It felt unbelievable," he said, shaking his head and accepting a hug from his girlfriend.
The Days of '47 Rodeo finished up its first year in a new home on its 40th anniversary. After 39 years of being in downtown Salt Lake City, the rodeo moved to the E Center, which rodeo chairman Brad Harmon called a great success.
"We had a great crowd tonight," he said of the first rodeo they've ever hosted the day after the holiday. "It was fun. ... We've never had Miss Rodeo Utah at this rodeo before and we had her here tonight. We're real happy about the turnout and how things went. We've started a great tradition here."1 comment on this story
Fans were thrilled to start the rodeo by watching the defending world champion saddle bronc rider, Cody Wright of Milford, Beaver County, stay atop Kling's Klassic for eight seconds. He earned a score of 76 and then he and his brothers, neither of whom made the whistle, raced out of the arena to try and make the saddle bronc competition in the Spanish Fork Rodeo, which also concluded Saturday night.
Levi Berry, of Morgan, rode Smok'n Coals to the whistle and earned 84 points, which was good enough to put him in the top riders for the week.
The overall winners of the Days of '47 Rodeo were:
Team roping, Ralph Gunter and Dallen Gunter, with aggregate time of 11.7; bareback riding, Tilden Hooper, 84 points; saddle bronc riding, Elliott French, 86 points; tie down roping, Bubba Paschal, 15.8 seconds (2); steer wrestling, Jake Rinehart, 8.0 seconds (2); barrel racing, Christina Richman, 13.40.