Nebraska Native Conner Halverson Ready To Ride in Unleash The Beast at Pinnacle Bank Arena
By William Padmore, Host/Reporter Nebraska Public Media
Oct. 22, 2021, 6:45 a.m. ·
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The Top 40 Bull Riders in the world will converge on Pinnacle Bank Arena this weeekend for the last stop on the Unleash The Beast tour, hosted by the Professional Bull Riders sports organization. The PBR Cooper Tires Invitational will be the last chance elite riders have to earn points toward attending the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, where the top 35 riders in the world will compete for the grand prize.
Nebraska Public Media News reporter William Padmore talked to Conner Halverson, a Nebraska native and 33rd-ranked bull rider in the world about how he got into the sport and what to expect from the event.
William Padmore: The first thing I want to ask you is, who are you? Can you just explain a little bit about where you come from and how you got into bull riding?
Conner Halverson: I'm from Gordon, Nebraska and it's a pretty small town. You know there's not a whole lot to do but they have a fair rodeo every week or every summer I guess and (it's) just something I wanted to try and I tried it and never looked back.
Padmore: So was it more out of boredom than interest or just the excitement drew you to it?
Halverson: Yeah, it's just the excitement you know, seeing it go on every summer and I just wanted to try it I guess.
Padmore: I'm confused about bull riding as a sport, right? How does it actually work? How does a person score points and actually win?
Halverson: There's four judges. Two of them score the bull, two score the cowboy 1 to 25. 100 is as high as score can go. They score the rider 1 to 25 the bull 1 to 25 and then they tally up their scores and then that's how they score the ride.
Padmore: Interesting, you said they score the bull as well?
Halverson: Yep, how hard he bucks, how fast he spins, you know how high he jumps. Stuff like that.
Padmore: I remember reading an article about bull riding in preparation for this interview and they referred to the bulls by name which I thought was interesting. Do the bulls themselves have personalities and careers like the bull riders do?
Halverson: Yeah, yeah the the bulls are just as much of athletes as we are. You know, they have names and they definitely have a personality and they love to do their job just as much as we do.
Padmore: So when you're planning to compete, does the bull that you're matched with alter your strategy at all?
Halverson: Some bulls fit other riders more than some of the other riders but at the end of the day you just got to ride whatever one that they throw out.
Padmore: Okay, so you're ranked 33rd in the world right now according to the PBR. How did you do that when you've been professionally bull riding for what, two years now?
Halverson: I just kept going to the lower level PBRs and kept accumulating points and I was fortunate enough to win a couple this past couple months and that shot me up and gave me a couple invites to the Unleash the Beast, and then I just kept accumulating them points and kept moving up further in the world standings.
Padmore: Very nice, especially at such a young age. How do your loved ones feel about you participating in this sport? Do they or you ever worry about suffering a serious injury because I know this is a particularly dangerous sport, or it can be?
Halverson: Right yeah, no they're they're all pretty supportive you know. They like to come watch and whenever they can and they're really supportive.
Padmore: So the Unleash the Beast event is this Saturday and Sunday How are you feeling? How are the nerves? Is there any fear that you might get knocked out of that 33rd spot?
Halverson: Oh, no, I'm feeling good and I'm planning on going down to Lincoln and standing on all my bulls. There's really no looking at moving back anywhere.
Padmore: Now this is the million-dollar question. What are the chances of you taking home the golden buckle for Nebraska this year? Is it possible?
Halverson: It wouldn't be possible this year but next year and the years to follow? Dang. Sure. Pretty possible.
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