Pair of bull riders make the most of opportunities in Rapid City |

Pair of bull riders make the most of opportunities in Rapid City

Rushmore Plaza Civic Center may want to start marketing itself as the building where careers are launched.

One night after Bart Miller won his first Xtreme Bulls Tour title here, 21-year-old Riley Blankenship of Killdeer, N.D., made his big breakthrough by winning the second night of the Rapid City Xtreme Bulls Division 2 series on Jan. 31.

Blankenship’s 85.5-point ride on Brookman-Hyland Rodeo’s Little Chubby allowed him to hold off two-time Xtreme Bulls Tour champion Kanin Asay and Dalton Votaw by 1.5 points and earned him a check for $3,666, the biggest of his career.

“I’ve been on that bull a couple of times before and didn’t have any luck,” Blankenship told the Rapid City Journal. “So tonight, I was just happy to get him rode. He came out pretty hard and, fortunately, I was able to stay in the middle. Third time was a charm for me tonight, I guess.”

A former North Dakota high school champion, Blankenship was a PRCA rookie in 2014. He won the Sitting Bull Stampede in Mobridge, S.D., last July and qualified into the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo. His season earnings of $5,640 put him 138th in the world standings.

Miller’s 86-point ride on Burch Rodeo’s Wolf on Wallstreet gave him the win Jan. 30 by a half-point over Dustin Bowen and earned him a check for $3,666.

“I had a good feeling driving up here,” Miller told the Rapid City Journal, “and it all worked out for me. I’ve won some smaller rodeos for sure, but tonight is easily my biggest win. This will make the rest of the year go a lot easier. I’m just hoping to use the win here to take another step in my career.”

Miller, of Pleasanton, Neb., bought his PRCA card in May 2011 and made something of a breakthrough last season when he earned $30,843 to finish 42nd in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings. He had wins in Pretty Prairie, Kan.; Hastings, Neb., and Topeka, Kan.

Blankenship and Miller are now tied for 11th in the Xtreme Bulls Tour Standings.

Asay was the only competitor to earn checks both nights of the two stand-alone Xtreme Bulls events, finishing seventh on Jan. 30 and in that tie for second on Jan. 31 with his 84-point ride on Burch Rodeo’s Whiskey Hangover.

“I was kind of expecting him to fake left and go right and that’s what he did (Jan. 30, when he bucked off Coleman Entze),” Asay said. “But tonight he rolled out there and kicked super hard and went left and stayed left, and I can’t be happier that I was able to hang on him for eight seconds. My wife and her family are from Rapid (City) and so we spend a lot of time here anyway, and I love the mountains, so while it’s not necessarily my hometown rodeo, I claim it to be one.”

The next Xtreme Bulls Tour event is Feb. 5 in Bismarck, N.D.