Kingsolver top bullrider
"Well how's he going to top that," thought Sue Kingsolver as she watched her son, Skeeter, beat out 150 other contestants to win first place in the bull riding division of the International Finals Youth Rodeo.
Skeeter Kingsolver has been riding bulls since the sixth grade. The now 16-year-old McLouth High School student seemed to have reached the top of his game July 10-15 when he traveled to Shawnee, Okla., to compete in the competition.
"Oh my gosh, sheer excitement," said Sue about her reaction to hearing her son had won. "I was as loud as I could be because he's worked so hard and he's always come so close."
Skeeter won the competition with a three-performance score of 234. The first-place ranking won him a sizeable cash prize, a saddle, a belt buckle and one-year's sponsorship of representing "Cinch" premium western jeans and shirts.
"It was the best feeling in the world," Skeeter said. "It's the biggest thing I've ever won so far."
The thrill of the competition and the rush of adrenaline that comes with every ride are the things Skeeter said got him hooked on the sport. He said the competition was so intense and each time was so exciting that he couldn't even remember what he thought about during the round.
"The bull riding as a whole is just awesome," he said. "There's nothing better I don't think."
That excitement goes back to the days when Skeeter would make his mother take him to ride a mechanical bull every Tuesday and Thursday. On one of those trips he saw a flyer posted for a bull, steer and calf riding school in De Soto. Ever since, Skeeter has dedicated his time to becoming the best he can be.
With his passion for the sport comes a lot of hard work. Skeeter keeps improving his skills by riding horses' bare back and using a machine that stimulates a bull ride called a Mighty Bucky.
"It's kind of self motivation," he said. "You gotta want it. You can't just sit around everyday on the couch watching TV. If you're wanting to do it, you have to do whatever it takes just like anything else."
Skeeter said he has to stay dedicated to improving because he plans to become a professional bull rider after graduating high school.
However, with a sport such as bull riding, there are always dangers that can cause concerns.
Sue said she has had her reservations about her son's participation, but she puts faith in his strength and talent.
"No matter what your kids do you worry about if they're going to get hurt or how well they'll do, but I'm proud of his accomplishments," she said.
Over the years, Skeeter has broken his collarbone, hurt his ribs and gotten numerous concussions from his bull riding experiences. But for him, it's all part of the job.
"If you're scared you shouldn't be doing it," he said.
Even though Skeeter knows his mother gets scared at times, he said he also knows she is always behind him all the way. He said his supportive family is what has helped him the most and whom he owes most of his success too.
With both his parents and his brother supporting him, Skeeter said he knows he will only keep succeeding and is eager to achieve future accomplishments in the sport.