STEPHENVILLE— To hear Tarleton State University bull rider Cullen Telfer tell it, his success in the rodeo arena is a simple matter:
“I put my hand in the rope and stay in the middle for eight seconds.”
That philosophy garnered the Plant City, Fla., cowboy the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region crown and qualifies him to represent Tarleton at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., next week.
Cullen’s rodeo trek started when his younger sister got a horse and began entering youth rodeos. He recalls the time he accompanied his family to watch her perform. He took a special liking to the roughstock events.
“I was about 8. I was really watching the bull riders and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I don’t remember my first bull, but I guess I must have liked it a lot.”
As a student-athlete at Strawberry Crest High School, he captured a state wrestling title as a freshman, then followed that with third in the state as a sophomore and again as a junior.
But the rodeo bug bit him, and his interest switched to bulls his senior year when he won the event in the state High School Finals Rodeo.
His high school career attracted coaches at Western Texas College in Snyder, and he joined the rodeo team there for two years before transferring to Tarleton for his last two seasons of collegiate eligibility.
“I wanted to stay in the Southwest Region, and I like the Stephenville area,” he said. “I wanted to finish my degree and figured Tarleton would be the best spot for me to do that and rodeo.”
The junior ag business major has been the model of consistency this season, posting a first-place finish at the Ranger College Rodeo in Sweetwater and seconds at WTC, the Howard College Rodeo in Big Spring and at Clarendon College.
He anticipates few shifts in his CNFR preparations. Why change what’s working?
“I don’t really plan on changing anything,” he said. “I’ll just practice doing the same things I’ve been doing.”
Things like putting his hand in the rope and staying in the middle for eight seconds.
Probably sounds simpler than it is.