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MetroSports Magazine PBR 2020 Season Kicks-Off at MSG: Monster Energy Buck-Off at the Garden

January-February 2020

NY Strong-est Man and Woman 7 Competition Westchester Knicks Youth Outreach


Contents

p. 18

January-February 2020

4 New York’s Strong-est Man and Strong-est Women Championship Approximately 150 of the area’s strongest athletes gathered at the Westchester County Center for the New York Strongest Man and Woman 7 competition. 18 Youth Participation is Key to Family Fun at Westchester Knicks Games The New York Knicks Westchesterbased G-League team rolls out the red carpet to provide family-centered entertainment for all. 10 Professional Bull Riders Kick Off the 2020 Monster Energy BuckOff Season at Madison Square Garden The Professional Bull Riders Monster Energy Buck-Off at the Garden returns to “The World’s Most Famous Arena” to kick off its 2020 season. Cover Photo: 13-year old Miniature Bull Rider, Najiah Knight

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Train Like a Champion. Train with a Champion. MetroSports Magazine’s former Athlete of the Month and cover of our May-June 2015 issue, Keisher “Fire” McLeod, a former NY Golden Gloves Champion, current NYS Flyweight Champion and current WIBA World Flyweight Champion can now be your personal boxing trainer at the world famous Gleason’s Gym.

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MetroSports Magazine (MSM) is published six times a year by the New York Sports Photo Group. MSM is available online and can be downloaded in electronic format for viewing on tablet and hand-held devices, laptop and desktop computers and purchased as full-color glossy print editions. Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Art Director: Warren Rosenberg Publisher: New York Sports Photo Group: nyspg.com Editorial Director / Sales: John Chuhran Writers: John Chuhran, Warren Rosenberg Director of Photography: Clark Thompson Social Media: Clark Thompson Photo Contributors: Clark Thompson, Warren Rosenberg Advertising: For rate card contact warren@nyspg.com Please direct all inquiries to: warren@nyspg.com Visit us on the web at: MetroSportsMag.com

MetroSports Magazine accepts and welcomes photos, short articles, opinions and letters from our readers. There is no guarantee that unsolicited contributions will be published and MetroSports Magazine assumes no responsibility for failure to publish or for editing published contributions. The Contents of MetroSports Magazine consist of copyrightable and/or copyrighted material and cannot be reproduced without the express written consent of the publishers. MetroSports Magazine | 3


New York Strong-est Man and Woman On January 18, 2020, approximately 150 of the nation’s strongest athletes gathered at the Westchester County Center for the New York Strong-Est Man and Woman 7 competition. Organized and hosted by Mamaroneck’s NY Strong gym, this United States Strongman (USS) sanctioned event serves as one of the qualifiers for the National Competition and the Arnold Internationals.

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or athletes in almost every sport, and for those who work in many professions requiring physical labor, muscular strength is of tremendous importance. Competitions involving tests of human strength and endurance have a long history, and some historically notable athletes, dating back to Milo of Croton in the 6th century B.C. Milo, was a wrestler in ancient Greece and a six-time Olympian who was known for both his extraordinary strength and, perhaps more so, for his method of strength training which involved carrying a full grown ox on his shoulders.

Credited as being one of the earliest formal strongman competitions, the Scottish Highland Games, dating back to the 10th century, involved numerous tests of strength and the Highland Games continue to this day with contests held at many sites around the world. Closer to home, the New York Strong-est Man and Woman 7 competition took place on the lower level of the Westchester County Center and, in the spirt of these ancient competitions, consisted of five individual events testing both strength and endurance: the Press Ladder, Jeep Stock Tire Deadlift, Sandbag Carry, Frame Carry/Frame Drag, and the Stone Over Bar.

Above: Tommy Lovell, Lightweight Open; holder of multiple State records (see page 12)

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Above: Rebecca Liquari, Lightweight Masters completing the Jeep Stock Tire Deadlift

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The Press Ladder consisted of a consecutive sequence of lifts involving an overhead press and hold of the axle (barbell) and log (metal cylinder) of increasingly heavy weights.

foot distance. The frame is the dropped and dragged back over the floor the 60-foot distance. The event is timed and contestants have only 60 seconds total to complete it.

The Jeep Stock Tire Deadlift required a continuous repetition of deadlifts over 60-seconds using a bar with sand-filled Jeep tires and added weights on each end.

The final event of the competition was the Stone Over Bar which involves lifting a large and heavy stone, referred to as an Atlas Stone, high enough to be placed over a raised bar. This reflects one of the earliest of historical strongman events which persist to this day. In many cultures, competitions testing strength have involved carrying heavy stones which have included the 409 pound Husafell stone from the village in Iceland of that same name, the Chikara Ishi stones from Japan used in Shinto strength contests dating back to the 9th century, and the McGlashen, Inver and Dinnie stones of Scotland.

The Sandbag Carry required athletes to lift and carry a heavy sand-filled bag back-and-forth over a 60 footlong path for a 60-second time limit with the total distance traveled determining the score. The Frame Carry/Frame Drag event required contestants to stand within and lift a weight-laden metal frame, and then carry it forward over a measured 60-

Above: Sue Harris, Heavyweight Masters executing the Log Press Facing Page: Michael Casper, Heavyweight Masters

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Participants competed in one of the following categories: Open - Any athlete who wishes to compete. Novice - Any athlete who has not competed in an open division or has not won a novice division. Heros Division - Police, fire and military. Teen - Any athlete between 13 - 19. (Athletes under the age of 18 must have parental or guardian written consent.) Masters - 40+, 50+, 60+. NOVICE: There are no classes in Novice . Only Lightweight and Heavyweight. The winner of each class at a show will qualify for nationals. TEENS: Teens are only Lightweight and Heavyweight. The top 3 in each will qualify. Below: Ricky Liccketto, Lightweight Novice

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Above: Hilary Crannage, Heavyweight Open Below: Darci Ruggles, Lightweight Masters


Lightweight Novice Male Under 220lb 1st Place Keiran Halton 2nd Place Ricky Liccketto 3rd Place Joe Colavito

Heavyweight Novice Male Over 220lb Female Over 165lb 1st Place Jose Perez 1st Place Bethany Hale 2nd Place Jacob Foster 2nd Place Kortney Coons 3rd Place Mason Keach 3rd Place Tracy Salvato

Middleweight Masters Male Under 220lb 1st Place Clarke Atwell 2nd Place 3rd Place

Heavyweight Masters Male Over 220lb Female Over 165lb 1st Place Dustin Creeden 1st Place Janet McGraw 2nd Place Michael Casper 2nd Place Sue Harris 3rd Place David Lashaw 3rd

Lightweight Open Male 181lb and Under 1st Place Aaron Fondrey 2nd Place Tommy Lovell 3rd Place Anthony Eckerson

Middleweight Middleweight Open Male 198lb Female 135 – 165lb 1st Place Zach Homol 1st Place Linden Reed 2nd Place Dylan Darmstadter 2nd Place Cassandra Concepcion 3rd Place Ian McCrae 3rd Place Katie Hoesch Casper

Middleweight Male 220lb 1st Place Marc Jones 2nd Place Sean Brady 3rd Place Devon Reese

Heavyweight Heavyweight Open Male 275lb Female 166 -198 lb 1st Place Steven Tripp 1st Place Kara McColgan 2nd Place Chad Michekitch 2nd Place Hilary Crannage 3rd Place Michael Altieri 3rd Place Cait Dunn

Super Heavyweight Super Heavyweight Open Male 275lb Female 166 -198 lb 1st Place Kevin Faires 1st Place Melissa Edwards 2nd Place Zach Hadge 2nd Place Jane Nwafor 3rd Place Justin Legere 3rd Place Keeley Moffitt

Teen Open 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place

Male Adam Grimes II Luke Gelfarb Samue Crankshaw

Female Under 165lb 1st Place Ally Jefferson 2nd Place Lauren Sammaritano 3rd Place Blythe Adamo

Female Under 165lb 1st Place Rebecca Liquari 2nd Place Darci Ruggles 3rd Place Amanda Robillard

Female 132lb and Under 1st Place Pamela Hyde 2nd Place Nicole Recchia 3rd Place

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Melissa Edwards: “Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable” In addition to the $500 cash prize awarded to each division winner, the top three finishers qualified for the Nationals. The winner of the male super heavyweight division qualifies for the Arnold International. Placing first in the Women’s Super Heavyweight Open Division was New Jersey native Melissa Edwards, the 2018 and 2019 United States Strongman National Champion, the 2018 Strongman Corporation National Champion, the 2018 and 2019 second place USS Pro Women’s World Championship, the 2019 third place winner in the Arnold Sports Festival Strongman World Championships, the 2019 fifth Place winner of the World’s Strongest Woman (Official Strongman Games), the World Record Holder of the deadlift at 605 pounds, United States Strongman’s National Log Record of 223 pounds as well as various state records including the 300 pound atlas stone. What makes Melissa’s story more compelling is that she’s achieved these accomplishments through dedication and hard work after suffering from two

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strokes. In our interview with her, Melissa told MetroSports Magazine that her first stroke occurred on an afternoon in June 2012 while at work. After suffering from serious migraine headaches that afternoon she left work early and, on the drive home, lost feeling in both her face and right arm as well as her ability to speak coherently. At the age of 26 and in otherwise perfect health, Melissa Edwards had suffered a stroke. Six months later, while pursuing her recovery, she suffered a second stroke. Her road back began with re-learning how to walk. At her current gym, Jersey Strong, and under the guidance of her husband and personal trainer, Brad, Melissa began with trying to lift 5 pound weights which had to be tethered to her hands as she did not have the strength to grasp them. Milestones achieved along the way included moving from a walker to a cane, earning a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Cornell University, and committing herself to begin training for Strongman competitions, setting small goals, accomplishing them, and moving forward.


We asked Melissa to explain to our readers just what she meant by the quote in an article posted by Jersey Strong, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. There’s an old Russian saying, she told us, “povtorenie mat ucheniya”, which means “repetition is the mother of learning.” The more you perform the same activity, the more confident you become. Confidence is a tangible thing--it comes from practice and repetition. When I say get comfortable with being uncomfortable I use it to explain that life will make you feel uncomfortable but that you can’t use that as a reason to quit. When people are fearful they often freeze up or quit. That is the time that you must buckle down, that is the time when heroes and champions are made. Don’t ever let fear or naysayers stop you. You have to remember, it’s a good thing to feel uncomfortable. When you feel uncomfortable, it means you’re moving forward and exploring new territory. Discovery and growth comes from conquering the unknown. My steps are: 1. Start 2. Don’t quit. 3. Push yourself past your comfort zone. 4. Embrace “the suck.” 5. Be around like-minded people. 6. Recognize your improvements. 7. Rinse. Repeat. Melissa credits her recovery and athletic accomplishments to her grit and determination, to the following individuals and organizations: My husband Brad and my son Jacob My coach Linden Reed My entire competition team and our group coach Johnny Wasiczko My gyms, The Stronggboxx in Clark, NJ, The PIT Gym in Eatontown, NJ, Iron Sport in Glenolden PA, and JerseyStrong gyms in NJ My sponsors and reps Zone Smelling Salts, Midas Chalk, & Breathe Belt Chris Alesi my therapist, @njbodymechanic

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In addition to Melissa, the other New York State Strongman record holders competing in this event included: -Tommy Lovell, holder of the State records at 165 lbs in the Maximum Axle (275 pounds), Maximum Dead lift (605 pounds) and Maximum Farmer Hold (220 pounds for over 55 seconds) -Dylan Darmstadter, holder of the State records at 198 lbs in the Axle Press (250 pounds x 8) -Justin Legere, State record holder in the Maximum Stone at 405 pounds in the super heavyweight division -Janet McGraw, State record holder at the heavyweight masters division in the Maxium 18� (505 pounds) Deadlift for Repetitions (305 pounds x 13), and the Maximum Farmer Hold (150 pounds) -Jane Nwafor, super heavyweight State record holder in the Maximum Deadlift at 405 pounds -And, event promoter Todd Giorgi, State record holder in the Maximum Log (310 pounds), Log Press (250 pounds x 12) and the Maximum Stone at 380 pounds in the heavyweight masters division.

Above: Tommy Lovell. Facing Page: Melisssa Edwards

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Jane Nwafor, Super HW Open

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Dustin Creeden, HW Masters

Nicole Gina Harty, LW Novice

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Above: Thomas Giorgi. Vietnam Veteran recipient of the Silver Star award and two Purple Heart medals. He holds the flag for every competition during the National Anthem.

Above: Tommy Lovell receives congratulations after completing an event

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Above: Left-some of the event sponsors Below: Pamela Hyde celebrates her lift

Above and Below: Spectators capturing the Tournament Action

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Youth Participation Key to Family Fun at Westchester Knicks Games by John Chuhran

Part of the allure of sports is the chance to pretend you are on the biggest stage in the world playing for the championship – the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals. In most circumstances, the role playing is all fantasy. The field of play is wherever there is space to set up a diamond or gridiron or a place to erect a hoop. But there is one local spot where those dreams can become a little more realistic. The chance to play in a major arena, before real crowds, exists for Westchester basketball junkies (if they are young enough) thanks to the Westchester Knicks. Okay, it might not be the “world’s most famous arena” at 4 Penn Plaza in Manhattan, but the Westchester County Center in White Plains is a classic old-school venue with all the cramped intensity of the original Garden or Fenway Park in Boston or Wrigley Field in Chicago. There is an intimacy at places like the County Center that the players and the people in the grandstands can feel. When you get the ball at the White Plains arena, you can feel all eyes turn to watch you.

Above: Players from New York City’s 6th Boro Hoops basketball on the Westchester Knicks hardwood Facing Page: Top - Team members from Faith & Grind Basketball School with coach Mike Buffalo Bottom - Coed teams from Dunwoodie Youth Assoication in Yonkers, NY

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Wisely, the management of the Westchester Knicks realized they had something special at the County Center and they decided to capitalize on it. The creative staff with this G-League team offers a discounted group sales rate to youth groups. It’s a win-win situation. The Knicks sell a large block of tickets (because mom and dad and grandma and grandpa all want to see and support the young players) and the groups get a discount in price plus the chance to play a brief scrimmage less than an hour before the Knicks play a very entertaining game of quality basketball. “Group sales and youth participation is something we work hard to promote,” said Colin Micek, Coordinator of Service and Fan Development for the Westchester Knicks. “We want everyone to think of the Westchester Knicks as their first choice for family entertainment. If some group buys at least

Above: NYC’s 6th Boro Hoops 20 | January-February 2020

50 tickets, we can sell those tickets for less than the price of a movie. And you don’t have to be quiet at a Westchester Knicks game!” Youth teams come from throughout the area. Before a recent game, the New Fairfield (Conn.) Basketball League took to the court. “The kids think they’re playing at giant arena like the Garden or Yankee Stadium,” said Kevin Cook, coach of the New Fairfield team. “I’m a basketball guy and I can tell you it’s an amazing feeling to be out on that court with all the people cheering, the music and public address sound effects roaring, the lights flashing. It’s electric and something the kids will always remember.” Scrimmages can be for any and all youth organizations: co-ed, all boys or all girls. And there are plenty of other youth programs featuring participation by kids at the games. From standing out on court


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next to Westchester Knicks players as the lights are turned low and the national anthem is sung solemnly to lining up for a “high-five line” as the Knicks exit the court after warm-ups to special seating and food offerings for birthday parties, there are numerous chances to enjoy a day or evening at the County Center. For the youngest fans, there are the always entertaining, “dribble musical chairs,” “dress and dribble” and “junior dunk” contests. The Knicks recognize that not everyone dreams of playing basketball, so they have also devised ways to get those youngsters involved in the activities. Tops among those are opportunities for youth dance teams to perform before the games and at half time. “We’ve been performing at (Westchester) Knicks games for more than a decade,” said Maria Bai, owner and coach at Central Park Dance in Scarsdale. “We actually do several performances each year including the Capital Theater in Port Chester, the White Plains Performing Arts Center and several senior centers. Performing here is special because our dancers have seen on TV the dancers perform before (New York)

Knicks games, so it makes it special for them to do something similar. “It’s a great program because not every kid wants to play sports and this is a chance for those kids to express themselves. Sports has an element of cohesiveness and our kids get to show that element extends to dance. They get to perform in front of friends and family, including their brothers. That isn’t always the case, but because the rest of the event involves pro basketball, the boys usually ask if they can come along, too. It’s great time for the entire family – everybody has fun.” With upcoming Westchester Knicks home games scheduled for March 13, 15, 19 and 28, there are still several chances to see a game and experience the family atmosphere at the County Center. If you want to explore the possibilities for your youngsters and their friends to live their sports dreams at next season’s Westchester Knicks games reach out to Colin Micek at 914-559-6880 or by email at colin.micek@ msg.com. It could be a chance to create some memories that can last for a lifetime.

Above: The “Knicks Kids” from Plattsburgh New York’s Center Stage Dance Studio performing at the February 29, 2020 home game

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Above: Big Shoes Dress and Dribble Contest, one of many on-court activities for Westchester Knicks fans Below: Post-game autograph signing with Westchester Knicks team members is a favorite with fans of all ages

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The PBR in NYC New York City’s Running of the Bulls Returns to Madison Square Garden

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he catacombs under Madison Square Garden mght not be all that different from the waiting rooms and passageways of New York’s Penn Station, also under Madison Square Garden, but are certainly not the kind of place you’d want to your elite athletes sleeping overnight. So, while the cowboys and support staff of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) spend their nights in New York City at Manhattan hotels – also not suitable for 1,600 pound bulls – the PBR’s elite bovine athletes are chauffeured back and forth between the Garden and their luxury “hotel” in New Jersey. With the current tolls for crossing the George Washington Bridge, the PBR spends approximately $21,000 transporting bulls between the Garden and their “hotel” for one weekend’s Monster Energy Buckoff at the Garden. And why wouldn’t the PBR invest in such high-end treatment of their bucking bulls. Let’s face it, Madison Square Garden would be hard-pressed to sell out three nights of a major sporting event if all that spectators might expect to see were talented cowboys riding comfortably on an animals back for 8 seconds. What draws the crowds to PBR events in major cities across the country is what the PBR bills as “the world’s most dangerous sport”. In the months and weeks leading up to the PBR’s Monster Energy Buckoff at the Garden, the promotional tagline frequently used was, “Unleash the Beast”. It is, in fact, the “beasts” that many spec-

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tators come to see or, if not, to watch the bullriding cowboys to use their strength, courage and technical skills to prevail over the “beast” which has been both bred and trained to try and throw, or “buck” them off. The danger in The World’s Most Dangerous Sport is the “wreck”, the sport’s unofficial name for the rider being thrown off the bucking bull. The drive back and forth across the Hudson River, as noted above, is far cry from how bulls may have traveled across the Hudson and onto Manhattan’s West Side 100 years ago. At that time, they came by railroad and then barge, not to Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue and 33rd street, but to the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company located on 11th avenue and 39th street for slaughter and processing into steaks and other beef products. On the weekend of January 3-5, 2020, on the corner of 8th Avenue and 33rd Street, the Bulls got their revenge. On hand to recognize the event, and to help celebrate the relevance of bulls to New York City, was Arturo Di Modica himself. The PBR presented Di Modica with the “Be Cowboy” award to which the humble artist replied, “Being honored by the PBR tonight is as good as it gets...to be identified

PBR tonight is as good as it gets...to be identified with these great creatures and the talented cowboy athletes who ride them makes me even prouder to have created Charging Bull. From now on, Charging Bull will always remind me of tonight, and this wonderful honor”. On the morning of the first day of competition, PBR Chief Executive Officer, Sean Gleason, reigning PBR World Champion, Jess Lockwood, and New York’s own professional bull rider, Daylon Swearingen, were all on hand to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Swearingen, a 150 lb 5’6” 20 year old from Piffard, NY, is no novice to bull riding and is currently ranked #13 in the world. MetroSports Magazine had the opportunity to interview Daylon outside of Madison Square Garden on the corner of 33rd Street and 8th Avenue at a pre-event gathering. He told us that “It feels great to be here in New York City, especially because the PBR Tour starts here. I’ve been riding pretty much my whole life. I kind of grew up around it - my family produced rodeos. I started on sheep and then worked my way to calves and then bulls.” Speaking. With a big smile, about the thrill he gets from the sport he said, “I love it every time I get down there. It’s

Facing Page Top: PBR Riders Daylon Swearingen and Jess Lockwood flaning PBR CEO Sean Gleason and representatives of the PBR and Wrangler Jeans Company. at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo Credit: NYSE Facing Page Bottom: from left - Daylon Swearingen, Jess Lockwood, Charging Bull Statue, Charging Bull Artist Arturo Di Modica, and PBR CEO Sean Gleason. Photo Credit: Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media

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As the Bull Riders enter the field of competition of The World’s Greatest Arena (above), one worthy opponent waits (facing page)

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exciting. It’s just something you can’t find everywhere – that feeling you get. There’s a danger to it and it’s a sport where we don’t get paid unless we perform well and that’s something you don’t find in a lot of sports now. When your ride starts, you can’t stop it. You can’t slow down. It all just plays out and there are so many different scenarios that can happen. Daylon comes into the event well-prepared having competed in 44 events during the 2019 season and placing first in seven of them. His previous ride in his home state was in Elmira, NY, on May 11th where he posted a 3rd place finish. His opening round opponent will be Tulsa Time. As part of the media day events out on the corner of 33rd and 8th in addition to our interview, several NYC based sports mascots tested their skills against a mechanical bull. New York University’s “Bobcat”, St. John’s University’s “Johnny Thunderbird”, Columbia University’s “Roar-ee” and Major League Baseball’s minor league Staten Island Yankees mascot, “Scooter the Holy Cow” each climbed aboard in front a gathered late morning crowd.

ist attacks of 9-11 and gave their lives in the process. Others have since suffered, and are currently suffering, from post 9-11 diseases. This competition was one of pure brawn – who would show the greatest amount of muscle mass in a pre-event Bull vs Police Officers weigh-in challenge It turned out to be “no contest”. The PAPD put the bucking bull to shame, outweighing it by 300 pounds. And it was all for a good cause – to help raise money for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001 and also honors our military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. Following the weigh-in, the PBR presented the Foundation a check for $2,000.00

Perhaps it makes sense that a cow was the only successful mascot to complete a ride on a bucking bull – granted, neither the cow nor the bull were real. Following the Mascot Buck Off at the Garden, it was time for another NYC sidewalk contest, this one between an actual PBR bucking bull and eight members of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police Department (PAPD). The PAPD dates back to 1928 and is today charged with securing many of the City’s vital bridges, tunnels, airports, bus terminals, commuter railroad, ports and the World Trade Center. Thirty-seven PAPD officers were among the first to respond to the World Trade Center following the terrorAbove: A PBR competitor arrives at MSG with NYC’s Empire State Building in the background Facing Page: The Mascott buck-off competitors with (from Top far left, Daylon Swearingen, Jess Lockwood, and Ezekiel Mitchell). Below: Ultimate Mascott Buck-Off winner from the Staten Island Yankees, “Scooter the Holy Cow”

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Opening its 14th year at the World’s Greatest Arena in New York City, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) will kicked off its 2020 season with round one the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden – part of the PBR’s Unleash the Beast tour. Among the 36 bull riding human athletes were the returning Champion, 22 year old Jess Lockwood, former 3-time Champion Silvano Alves from Brazil, 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis and series rookie from upstate New York, Daylon Swearingen. Winning top honors for the 3-day event was Brazilian bull rider Joao Ricardo Vieira followed by countryman Kaique Pacheco and American rider Jess Lockwood, in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Equally important was the honor bestowed upon the bovine athletes with the bulls “Lil 2 Train” and “Midnight Rock” coming in at a 1st place tie followed by “Holy Water”. New York’s Daylon Swearingen made the cut after two days of competition, completing two 8-second rides on bulls “High Hopes” and “Chuck and Larry”, to qualify for the final round. He was bucked off of ”Blue Crush” after 5.66 second to finish 14th overall. New York, rider the loudest of

cheers. That did not stop the New York City crowd from giving the 20-year old Piffard, New York, rider the loudest of cheers. Contrary to what some might think, the PBR’s bulls do not buck because of any devices, straps, or mistreatment of the animals. In fact, nothing is done to make these bulls buck other than sitting a man on their back which they simply try to throw off. The bucking bull athletes are specifically bred for their bucking ability, trained first with dummies and then actual riders. Only those that show a native ability to jump high, turn forcefully, and change direction unexpectedly, are selected to compete in PBR events. The PBR’s bulls are provided by a select group of breeders, known as stock contractors, who compete against each other to provide the most challenging bulls. While the sport of professional bull riding does award points to the bull riders based on their ability to complete an 8-second ride aboard 1,500 pounds of bucking fury and does crown a bull riding champion each year, the sport also scores and ranks bulls based on their performance. Perhaps most important to the bulls and their stock contractors is the bulls’ “buckoff percentage”, a measure of how many riders the bull has thrown off before the 8-second ride has finished.

Mini Bull Riders

Joining the show again this year on the Monster Energy Buck-Off circut are some 12 and 13 year old up-andcoming bull riders. Making the most of her time in NYC was the 4’ 10”, 70 pound 13-year old seventh grade girl, Najiah Knight . In addition to riding a 600 pound miniature bucking bull on the floor of Madison Square Garden, Najiah was featured in Vogue Magazine, the New York Post and brought back to Madison Square Garden in February to be honored on the ice at a New York Rangers game. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and the progress women have made in professional sports, the words Najiah spoke to the New York Post about her chances of making it to the top ranks of the PBR resonate quite clearly, “I believe I can do it, and I believe I am going to be the one who makes history.”

Facing Page: Piffard New York’s PBR rider, Daylon Swearingen aboard the bull, High Hopes, of Deer Prairie Creek/5S Bucking Bulls

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Clockwise from Top Left: PBR Rider Dylan Smith has his hands full trying to avoid the charging Mickey Mouse after dismounting. Both were fine following the encounter.

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Above: Miniature Bull Rider, 13-year old Najia Knight, the only female athlete traveling on the circuit. Below: Miniature Bull Rider, 13-year old Ryder Carpenetti, who suffered a collapsed lung after being stepped on by a bull.

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Profile for MetroSports Magazine

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