CHITCHAT CORNER

He is on the rise

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HE IS A SPIN OFF from his grandparents even though he kept it secret from the whole family as long as possible. And it came a point where his name was announced so often in the bull riding arenas sooner or later it had to reach the ears of a grandmother who was accustomed to keeping up with rodeo happenings.

Brian Hathorn, Jr. at the age of 18, set TBR bull riding on fire recently winning the first ever battle of the Cowboy Classic State Championship wins in Dallas. Going 4 for 5 with two 90-point rides, he managed to win the event by three-quarters of a point over his traveling partner and best friend Mark Sullens.

Since that win, Brian is on fire for the world title with a goal of moving forward and upward as quickly as possible.

Brian graduated from LEAD Academy in Longview as part of their early graduate program. He is currently a part time student at Kilgore College attending classes in blueprinting and welding. He is clear on his intention to stay in the arena. “Bull riding is what I do full time,” said Brian. “That is the main thing in my life. Bull riding first, college second.”

“My interest first came from my grandfather Buck McLendon, who was a rider at my age. I watched a rodeo movie called 8 Seconds and I thought that was cool and thought I needed to try it. I got on a bull for the first time in Sims, Texas and after the first ride, I was hooked.”

Brian started bull riding in 2013 and went full time in 2014. He terms 2014 as his “breakout season” by winning the first event in Ore City and winning his second event the following week. He has remained in the top 10 ever since for TBR.

“I hid my bull riding from the whole family pretty good until 2016 when I won my first state championship in Nacogdoches. That’s when my grandmother, Pat Sheets, found out,” he laughed. His grandmother knew the arenas well, having won her share of barrel racing and other rodeo events. She quickly became one of his best supporters.

After winning the state championship recently, Brian dropped to second on the next event to his friend Mark. Mark is originally from Durant, Oklahoma and now resides in Longview.

Last week, Brian went to the Challenge of Champions in Lufkin to participate. The challenge was taking #1 bull riders and the #1 bull and seeing who could stay on through several events. Brian happened to pull the same bull, High Roller, that he won on in the state championship and he won the Lufkin events, giving him a 640-point led in East Texas.

“One of these days it will be world (championship),” said Brian matter-of-factly. “That is my goal. The wins over the past few weeks will jump me up to the pros –PRCA (Professional Rodeo Association). Right now, I am trying to get money saved up to enter the PRCA events. Entry fees go higher as you go up in rank,” he explained. “At some events you just get points, some buckles and points, and some money. This season at the finals, the pay-off is $41,000. So, the higher you go in rank the better.”

He is confident he will see the day. Look out world, he is on the way… if in doubt, just ask his grandmother and she will tell you the same.

MAY HIS LOVE AND LAUGHTER fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at chitchatlinda@ol.com or 903-984-2593.

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