Two hours before Jake Davis' ride atop Anarchy, the 18-year-old bull rider from McLeary, Washington summed up with a smile what he was about to straddle.
"It’s like being tied to a bomb," Davis said.
Indeed, Anarachy exploded out of the chute, pirouetted and bucked but still Davis held on. His full eight-second ride on Friday scored him an 81.5 and briefly put him in first place in the bull-riding portion of the Missoula Stampede PRCA rodeo.
Then Ardie Maier came out with the final ride of the night and topped him by a mere half point at an 82. The two-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier got a little help from his bull, which is also judged in the scoring. Still, Maier had to hold on.
"I thought two-time NFR, dang he’s going to beat me," Davis said. "It looked like his (bull) had more kick -- real showy -- and (Maier) was a bit more in control."
While Maier and Davis took the top two spots with clean rides, Trego's Gerald Eash's eight-second ride may have received the biggest gasp from the substantial crowd at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.
Eash had already taken on Seldom Seen in the saddle bronc riding event and scored a 75 -- the second best of the weekend. He went for another full ride, this time bareback on a bull named Buck Chuck.
As soon as Eash heard the horn for the eight-second ride, he was flung to the arena floor. Immediately after landing, Buck Chuck stomped on Eash's back as the crowd gasped. So did Eash.
"It kind of just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, but I don’t think it’ll hurt too much tomorrow," said Eash, whose protective vest helped absorb the blow.
He hopped up and was able to convince medical crews on site he was fine. The thrill of being just the third rider to make a full time at the Stampede helped ease the pain.
"It feels good because I rode the bull. I’ll be a little sore from it, but it's already starting to go away," the rider from Trego said.
Although the bull riding becomes the main event in part by its lore along with its place in the program, the rodeo's second full night was full of riders making it into the money in the earlier events.
Power's Jessy Davis, who is ranked No. 1 in the Montana circuit, rode Sozo bareback for a full eight seconds and scored an impressive 84. It would have been the best score on Thursday, but a boy from Bend, Oregon just three riders before posted an 85.
The rider was Wyatt Bloom, whose score sits him atop the standings going into Saturday, the last day of the rodeo.
"He got it rolling, especially as a young kid to come out here and have a good ride it motivates you to try harder," said Davis, currently 15th in the country in bareback riding -- the magic qualifying number to make the NFR. "That horse has been around a couple years and I’ve seen a lot of guys have a hard time with him and Wyatt made it look like it was pretty easy."
Davis sits in second to Bloom; Chase Erickson of Helena had the third best bareback bronc ride of the night and of the rodeo, scoring a 82.5.
In barrel racing, which is strictly a women's event, top spots fell despite just six riders going on Friday. Kim Schulze of Larkspur, Colorado raced around the three barrels without knocking any over in 17.56 seconds. She bested Whitefish's Ashley Sudan on the night, who tied Leah Crockett's second-place time of 17.71.
Paul David Tierney's time of 8.5 seconds was the fastest in the tie down roping event, and Sam Levine of Wolf Creek finished third. He was the fastest roper in a pink shirt, though, on a night where the rodeo helped raise awareness for breast cancer and the Chicks 'N Chaps organization.
Kane Cartwright had the fast time of four seconds in the steer wrestling competition and Blaine Vick and Jim Ross Cooper on Friday couldn't quite usurp Clayton Hass and John Robertson from Thursday in the team roping event.
The final day of the Missoula Stampede starts again at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the fairgrounds.