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Kenton rider’s successful return is no bull

Kenton rider’s successful return is no bull
The last time Matt Smith scored points for the UT Martin rodeo team was back in September when he finished fifth in the Missouri Valley College Rodeo in Marshall, Mo.
All that changed Friday night in the 44th annual UT Martin rodeo when Smith was the lone cowboy to score any points in the crowd-favorite bull riding competition. Smith scored 54 points on Universal Rodeo’s Darth Vader.
Immediately following the ride, Smith had to make a decision — take the points or a re-ride.
“I was thinking re-ride,” Smith said. “I wanted big points so I was thinking re-ride all the way, but the guys on the other side of the chutes said take the points.”
Smith opted for the points and, by doing so, he won the Friday night performance and he will compete in Saturday’s Martin Paving Company Championship.
Since August, when Smith was cleared to rodeo again, he has been in a dry spell. “I put so much pressure on myself, that I buck myself off,” he said.
The pressure and the dry spell are understandable for the Kenton cowboy. In January, at Oman Arena in Jackson, Smith broke his neck participating in a Pro Bull Riding Competition.
“I was paralyzed for about 15 minutes and I remember getting my feeling back in the ambulance,” Smith said.
Smith said he never considered giving the sport up because of the injury. “I have been riding bulls since I was four years old,” he said.
Along the way, Smith played quarterback at Gibson County High School, but his passion has always been riding bulls.
In case you are wondering, the 21-year-old bull rider does know who the real Darth Vader is. “I didn’t pay attention to the bull’s name,” Smith said.
For those who do not know who the 1977 fictional character is from the movie Star Wars, he is Anakin Skyhawker (Luke’s father).
If Darth Vader (the bull) could steal a real Darth Vader line, he might tell Smith, “You have done well …” Published in The Messenger 4.17.12