Professional rodeo star enhances FRC rodeo team

1/5/2011 - Billy Bugenig, an assistant coach for the Feather River College rodeo team, tied for first place in steer wrestling at the 2010


Billy Bugenig, one of the top steer wrestlers in the country, helps coach rodeo at Feather River College. Also pictured is his horse, Smarty.

National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, earning almost $70,000 in prize money over the 10-day event Dec. 2-11.

For the past three years, Bugenig has been competing full-time in professional rodeo. This was his first year to reach the national finals, although he came close to qualifying the previous two years.

To qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, Bugenig had to finish among the top 15 money-earners throughout the year in his event.

At 6 feet, 1 inch and 220 pounds, Bugenig has the perfect build for his steer wrestling event, also called bulldogging.

The event requires competitors to lunge off a running horse onto a nearby steer and wrestle it to the ground by twisting its head around.

In his opening run at the national finals, Bugenig clocked a time of 3.4 seconds to win the first go-round and earn $17,512.

“It felt pretty good,” said Bugenig. “I didn’t know what to expect, being a rookie and all, but I felt I’d do well. When I did, it helped the rest of the week, knowing I could compete.”

Bugenig also finished in the money during the second, third and sixth rounds with times of 4.5, 4.3 and 4.8 seconds, respectively.

In the 2010 standings, Bugenig finished seventh overall, totaling $135,387 in prize money after winning four rodeos and tying for first in two others. This brings his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association career earnings to more than $300,000.

Bugenig has been helping coach the FRC rodeo team since 2006, and he also teaches a couple classes at the college.

“He’s really good,” said FRC head rodeo coach Jesse Segura. “He’s a good guy to have, not just coaching, but as a role model.”

Bugenig grew up in Ferndale, where his family owns and operates West Coast Rodeo Company, a contracting business that supplies livestock and produces rodeos.

While earning a business degree at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Bugenig won the steer wrestling championship for the West Coast Region in 2002 and was the reserve champion the following year. In 2004, Bugenig captured the steer wrestling championship in the California Cowboys Pro Rodeo Association.

“Having him puts Quincy and FRC on the map,” said Segura. “It brings us up to a whole other level. It helps get our name out there more.”

Segura and Bugenig attended school together at Cal Poly and are good friends. When Bugenig isn’t traveling for rodeos and comes through Quincy, he stays with the Segura family.

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