On December 9, Clovis East graduate and Fresno State student Reed Neely won the Saddle Bronc Rider 2020 at the Permit Finals Championships.
The rodeo took place at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
This was Neely’s first time participating at the Permit Finals Championships. However, he was confident going into the competition.
“The best mentality is when I don’t care about anything. When everything starts to get to me, that’s when I start riding badly. I need to block everything out of my mind,” said Neely.
Neely said because of COVID-19 restrictions, he has been participating in smaller rodeos.
The Permit Finals were only three hours long. Due to the short event, Neely was not able to watch his competitors. After each round, he had to quickly remove his saddle from one horse to the next and prepared to ride again.
“I didn’t know I was going to win the year-end. Once I won, I was pretty ecstatic,” said Neely.
What’s next for Neely? He plans to continue practicing bronc riding while focusing on his schooling. He also looks forward to participating in more rodeos but that depends on the state’s stay-at-home orders.
Neely was not the only local to win a championship at Cowtown Coliseum.
Another Clovis East graduate and Fresno State student, Macie Kulikov also competed, winning her first big competition.
“I only dreamed of winning something like the junior world final, and never thought it could happen. I put so much hard work and effort to compete at this level, and to come out on top like this, is rewarding,” said Kulikov.
She won the Junior NFR World Champion Pole Bender 2020, leaving with an $8,500 check and a sporty golf cart.
Kulikov began riding horses when she was about three years old. She entered her first junior rodeo when she was in the 5th grade.
This was her last year competing in the junior division.
Kulikov and her horse, Siesta, have been with each other for the last nine years, but they weren’t always compatible.
“The first five years were difficult. We didn’t get along very well. He didn’t have good manners. But we’ve been connecting the last four years. The hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, it’s all coming together,” said Kulikov.
Kulikov plans to join the Fresno State “Bulldoggers” Rodeo Team in the near future.