HAWLEY, Minn. – Cole Hermanson had a feeling Huff & Snuff was due.
The 18-year-old bull rider didn’t fret when he drew the bull which had never been rode.
He wasn’t fazed when the animal tried jumping out of the chute either.
Hermanson simply locked in and clocked an eight-second ride and a score of 83 to move into the top spot after the first day of bull riding at the 46th annual Hawley Rodeo, a National Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned event.
“I knew he was going to turn back,” said Hermanson, who said he’d watched Huff & Snuff several times. “He always jumps back.”
Bull riding has been a family affair for Cole and his cousin Justin Hermanson as long as they can remember.
The two grew up watching their fathers and uncles ride – Justin’s father, Darrell, is a former high school national bull riding champ – and have carried on the tradition.
“It’s been a family thing all my life,” said Justin, who rides today, the second day of the Hawley Rodeo. “It’s in my blood.”
The Hermansons are two of over 20 bull riders competing this weekend at the Historic Hawley Rodeo Grounds.
Justin, 23, is the NPRA money leader in bull riding, having already earned more than $5,300 with half the season remaining.
Cole is in second place with about $3,500, but has balanced time between NPRA and North Dakota High School Rodeo Association events throughout the year.
Incidentally, Cole is the points leader in the NDHSRA and will go for his first high school title next week at the North Dakota high school finals rodeo in Bowman.
“It’s pretty neat seeing me and him on the top of the standings,” Justin said. “It’d be nice to see that at the end of the year when it’s all said and done, too.”
The Hermansons’ you-and-me attitude gives the cousins traits more associated with brothers.
“We spent a lot of time together growing up,” Justin said. “We’ve always been pretty close.”
Over the school year, Cole, a native of Mandan, N.D., even moved to rural Litchville, N.D., to live with Justin’s family and help around their farm.
“I get my stuff done at school,” said Cole, who left Mandan High School last year and will be a senior at Litchville-Marion High School in the fall. “It’s a lot easier.”
It also means more bull riding chances for both Hermansons.
Since Justin graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State in 2004, Cole said he’s found it easier to attend rodeos outside of the area.
“It’s a lot easier if I start going to big stuff. I’m with someone who knows people,” Cole said of his cousin.
While Cole is starting to become more acclimated in bull riding, Justin has cemented himself in the sport.
Justin has competed in several large events, including Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Salinis, Calif.
But he admits he still has room to improve.
“I broke four ribs (at Cheyenne),” Justin said with a laugh.
Cole recently received his PRCA permit and said he’ll attempt to earn his card and compete in more difficult rides in the near future. He’ll do it with his cousin by his side.
“He’s got all the talent in the world,” Justin said. “He can make a living riding bulls.”