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Up to the challenge: Permit challenge adds timed events in sixth year 

By Justin Shaw, PSN Staff Writer

The 2014 PRCA Permit Holder of the Year Challenge will be the sixth installment of the event, but with a new twist. For the first time, timed events will be added to the already existing roughstock program. The Permit Challenge will now have the look and feel of a regular rodeo.

“I was really pumped to hear that they were including timed events this year,” said steer wrestler Tyler Gibson, a senior on the Sam Houston State University rodeo team. “It gives a guy like me a chance to get his feet wet with a big experience in Vegas, and something to look forward to at the end of the season.”

For rodeo competitors in college, like Gibson, the Permit Challenge offers the chance to compete at a year end event against the other top permit holders.

The event will take place at noon Dec. 4 at the South Point Equestrian Center in Las Vegas. The top five permit holders in all roughstock and timed rodeo events from the 2014 regular season will compete for prize pools of $3,000 in each event.

“I didn’t want to buy my PRCA card until I was done with college, and it’s a decision I’m glad I made,” Gibson said. “This is a huge deal, and I think it’s something the PRCA has needed. It’s going to be a great event which attracts a lot of people, and hopefully they can grow it.” For Gibson, who will graduate with a degree in general agriculture from SHSU in December, the trip to Vegas is about more than just rodeo.

Gibson and his girlfriend, Amy Moser, are going to get married in Las Vegas while he’s there for the Permit Challenge.

“I’m trying to talk her into getting married at the chapel they used in the movie ‘The Hangover,’ but I don’t think she’s going to go for it,” Gibson said with a laugh. While Gibson has already bought his PRCA card for 2015, bareback rider Tanner Phipps will be waiting one more year.

Phipps, who is on the rodeo team at the University of Tennessee-Martin, is committed to finishing work on his degree first.

“School kind of hinders you from going to the bigger rodeos, especially in the winter and spring,” said Phipps, who will be competing at the Permit Challenge for the second straight year after finishing third in 2013. “I’m going to wait until I’m completely out of school to buy my card, which will be next year.” Phipps, 22, will be heading to Las Vegas with college teammates John Alley and Clark Adcock, who are team ropers at UT-Martin.

“It’s a really good deal for permit guys like us, because it gives you a chance to compete in Vegas and you get a free hotel room and have a chance to win some money,” Phipps said. “Being in school still, this is a great opportunity for me and others like me to compete in a good event.”

The South Point Hotel and Casino is providing each competitor in the Permit Challenge two nights worth of free rooms and also a free stall. The winners for each event will be part of the awards presentation at the RAM Rodeo NFR Viewing Party on Dec. 4.

“There are winners at every level of rodeo, and we wanted to give the permit holders an event of their own,” said stock contractor John Barnes, who is one of the key organizers for the Permit Challenge. “They are a very important part of the PRCA, and it’s a great way to showcase them in Las Vegas right before the NFR starts.”

Barnes points out that giving the permit holders a taste of competing in Las Vegas can pay immediate dividends, as in the case of bull rider Sage Kimzey. “Sage won the Permit Challenge last year, and now he’s leading the world going into the NFR a year later,” Barnes said. “There are some roughstock guys who competed in the Permit Challenge in the past five years who have gone on to the NFR.”

Barnes says the event needed to take the next step of adding timed events to the mix, and that having an actual two-round rodeo is good for not only the human competitors, but also the animals.

“The stock for the roughstock events are animals that are going to be auctioned off after the rodeo is over, as part of the Benny Binion Bucking Sale,” Barnes said. “This is a showcase for both the cowboys and the stock.”

All 35 contestants in the Permit Challenge will receive apparel from Wrangler and an NFR South Point vest, as well as gifts from sponsors such as Resistol, Montana Silversmiths, Barstow, Cactus and Justin Boots. For ticket information, go online to

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