DUNCAN, Okla. – Creek Young is more than a bull rider, more than a rodeo athlete.
Deep down, he’s a businessman, and his career is trying to tame the West one bull at a time. He understands the physical skills it takes to do his job, but there’s also a mental part to the game; sometimes that means making decisions out of the arena that can affect how things go when it’s time to do battle.
“This was a different season that what I had done the previous couple of years,” said Young, the No. 1 man in the Prairie Circuit’s bull riding standings from Rogersville, Missouri. “I had gotten tired and burned out, so I didn’t go to as many rodeos in the winter and in the spring. I got the opportunity to do the PBR teams, so I tried it.
“It wasn’t really my thing, and by the time I moved on, I wasn’t able to enter all the rodeos in the Northwest. Because of that, I was able to enter some circuit rodeos in August and get my count up for the first time in a few years.”
Cowboys and cowgirls must compete in at a certain number of rodeos in the region in order to be eligible to compete at the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12-Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan. Young had focused the 2021 and ’22 seasons on qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo, and that left him a few rodeos short of advancing to the regional championship.
Because of circumstances, he was able to not only compete at events closer to home, but he also will return to the NFR for the third straight year; in that regard, it’s been a win-win season for Young. As of the third week of September, he was sixth in the world standings.
His biggest victory in the circuit – a series of rodeos and contestants primarily from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska – came at the Lawton (Oklahoma) Xtreme Bulls, where he pocketed $9,000; he added big checks in Woodward, Oklahoma; Elk City, Oklahoma; and Dodge City, Kansas. He finished the circuit’s regular season with $24,794 and will carry a $7,770 lead over the field into Duncan.
“I also did well in Durant and Hugo (Oklahoma), and in August, I went to Altus (Oklahoma), Vinita (Oklahoma), Topeka, Kansas, and a few smaller rodeos and took advantage and got little checks everywhere I could,” said Young, who claims the Prairie Circuit in spite of living in Missouri because he likes the opportunities.
“I lived in Fort Scott (Kansas) for a couple of years, because that’s where my buddies, (fellow bull riders) Coy Pollmeier and Trey Holston lived. I was there right after high school. I felt like there were more better rodeos in the Prairie Circuit that would make it easier to make my circuit count.”
This year marks the third time he’s qualified for the regional finale, and he wants to earn the right to compete at the NFR Open, the moniker for the national circuit finals rodeo that features the year-end and circuit finals champions in each event from each of the circuits across North America. In 2021, Young was allowed to advance to the national circuit championship even though he finished third in the 2020 regional standings because one of the qualifiers was injured and unable to compete.
“Third is the best I’ve ever done,” Young said. “It feels good to go in with a lead and have a chance to win this championship. It would be huge. I’ve done alright at the circuit finals in the past, but I’d really like to get that championship.”
The bull rider will be one of several NFR qualifiers competing in Duncan. It’s not only a chance to gain good money that counts toward the 2024 ProRodeo season, the competition inside the Stephens County Arena also will serve as a training ground for those who will battle it out for world titles this December at Las Vegas.
“My body feels the best that it ever has this time of year,” said Young, now 22. “I have a lot of confidence right now. I get a lot of that by feeling good and feeling like I was able to make this year work, that my different approach and going about it differently rodeo-wise has paid off.
“This is a good tune-up for the NFR and keeps me going into October a little bit. It’s a good jump start to the new season.”