Niles bull rider takes national first place

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Vanessa Hodgson of Niles won a national women's bull riding contest at a Fort Worth, Texas, rodeo last weekend.
The rodeo was part of the Professional Women's Rodeo Association circuit.
Hodgson, 19, was ranked fifth in the women's association before her latest win.
She is the first woman to bring back the first-price leather horse saddle to Michigan.
Hodgson said nine women went into the bull riding competition, which started on Friday.
One, however, got hurt bare back riding and was prevented from competing the following day, she said.
Although getting bumped off 2/10 of a second before completing the six seconds required to get a score in her Friday ride, her performance on Saturday and Sunday was enough to secure her the overall win.
On a 100 point scale, Hodgson received 83 points on Saturday, and 86 on Sunday.
Hodgson said many people were surprised at her win because most women who competed in the rodeo had a couple of years experience, or more, riding bulls.
Although glad to have her parents in Texas with her, Hodgson said she didn't really think about them watching her during the contest.
Hodgson said she will miss out on a competition in Oregon this weekend, but will try to make it to Kansas for a rodeo the weekend after.
To stay in shape and get more bull riding experience, she will compete at rodeos in Elkhart, Ind., this winter.
LaVonne, Hodgson's mother, enjoyed the trip to Texas but still thinks bull riding is a dangerous sport.
But, as her daughter becomes a more experienced bull rider with each ride, she is more at ease than she used to be.
Lavonne hopes the latest victory will open up doors to sponsors that can help her daughter compete at more events.
Greg Sr., Hodgson's father, was also excited to be at the rodeo arena, especially during the ride that secured his daughter the overall victory.
But, like his wife, he realizes his daughter needs more money to be able to cover travel expenses and stay on the circuit for all of the competitions.
Total prize money at the women's event was $7,000.

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