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Corvallis' Caleb Bennett wins rodeo's return from COVID-19

Caleb Bennett
Posted at 9:32 AM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 12:04:40-04

(Editor's note: PRCA release)

CAVE CREEK, Ariz. – Bareback rider Caleb Bennett came to Cave Creek Rodeo Days with a simple mindset – win.

That’s exactly what he did.

The Corvallis cowboy had an 84.5-point ride on The Cervi Brothers’ Little Bucker, Friday, and it held for the victory when the rodeo concluded Sunday night.

Cave Creek Rodeo Days was the first PRCA-sanctioned rodeo since the COVID-19 pandemic halted rodeos in the middle of March.

“For this being the first rodeo back it is awesome to win,” Bennett said. “I like to win everything I go to, big, little or in between. I love to win. (Little Bucker) had one of his better days. He stayed hooked and stayed under himself and felt good. Winning Cave Creek is the start to a roll I want to continue.

“I thought I would be nervous (Friday), and I have never felt more at home than what I did tonight,” said Bennett, who's qualified for the last eight Wrangler National Finals Rodeos. “I was back there, and I was relaxed and ready. I had it in my mind that I was here to win and do my job. It’s awesome to be back in the arena and do what I love. I would hope committees across the world, fans across the world, people and sponsors see this and enjoy it and love it, keep the ball rolling. Come July, it would be awesome if we could have a good Cowboy Christmas and finish out the year strong.”

Bennett, who finished seventh in the PRCA | RAM World Standings in 2019, had been battling a right (riding hand) wrist injury before the coronavirus halted rodeos.

Bennett last competed March 8 at The American in Arlington, Texas, but struggled because of the injury. He had surgery on the wrist after the NFR in mid-December and was expected to be out up to six months.He took home $1,601 for the win in Cave Creek.

“It still felt a little tender on the wrist going across there, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from trying to do my best,” Bennett said. “I put an ice pack on my wrist (after the ride) to take away some of the swelling and inflammation, and I will be on my way.”

Bennett was sporting a different look when he arrived in Cave Creek, namely facial hair.

“It’s mustache May,” Bennett said. “Anyone who has anything to do with rodeo kind of knows that a lot of us cowboys will grow a mustache for mustache May. It is one of those things a lot of us take part in and have some fun with. It will come off at the end of May, don’t worry, it won't stay.”

Other winners at the $78,372 rodeo were steer wrestler Matt Reeves (3.7 seconds); team ropers Pedro Egurrola/Trevor Knowlin (4.3 seconds); saddle bronc rider Colt Gordon (86 points on The Cervi Brothers' Mortician); tie-down roper Shad Mayfield (8.5 seconds); steer roper Dalton Walker (63.0 seconds on three head); barrel racer Amanda Butler (15.45 seconds); and bull rider Garrett Smith (89 points on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo's Rustler's Roost).