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2001/06/13

2000 World Bull Riding Champion Cody Hancock Just like every other cowboy, bull rider Cody Hancock pursued a berth in the National Finals Rodeo like it was Holy Grail. He spent weeks on the road trying to get to as many rodeos as possble in his quest to earn a spot in the Top 15 money winners. "Just get to the NFR", he told himself. "And everything else will take care of itself. The 25-year-old cowboy follwed that belief through a grueling fall schedule that tested his love of the sport. In 1999, Hancock's strategy failed and he finished a frustrating $80 short of an NFR qualification. Undaunted, he returned in 2000 more determined than ever. This time, his efforts was rewarded with a world championship. "It feels great," Hancock said. "It's a dream come true." Hancock's 2000 seasons truly ended with a dream-like chain of events. He barley qualified for the NFR, making the field by $400 after winning $1,500 in Grand Rapids, Mich., on the final weekend of the regular season. Once at the NFR, though, Hancock needed only two rounds to valut from No. 15 to No. 1. He posted a 93-point ride on Flying Five Rodeo's PRCA Bucking Bull of the Year Skoal's Border Patrol to win Round 1. He came back the next night to post a 90-point score on Double J Rodeo's Color Me Bad to win Round 2. Hancock also won Round 7, posting 92 points aboard Franklin Rodeo Stock's Passport en route to fininshing second in the NFR average race with 599 points on seven head. Despite that strong showing, Hancock's world title run went down to the wire. Philip Elkins of Keller, Texas, was Hancock's main challenger, thanks to a strong average-winning performance of 665 points on eight head. "I knew if he rode and I bucked off he could possibly win the round and the avrage, and take the title," Hancock said. Elkins did his best to win the round, posting a 90-point ride on Big Bend Rodeo's Copenhagen Rapid Fire. In most rodeos, that score would almost guarantee a win. But at the NFR, with all the great riders and great stock, it wasn't good enough. He finished fourth. Hancock became only the second cowboy to jump from 15th to first under the current NFR format. It was far more than Hancock expected. "I just hoped to win some money," Hancock said. "I didn't think about the world title until the fifth or sixth round."

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