Richards continues family tradition

Katelyn Lide races to the finish Saturday during the short-go of the 13-15 year old poles at the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Finals held at Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena. (CNJ staff photo: Andrew Chavez

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Casey Richards comes from a rodeo family, but it took him a while to get involved in the sport.

Born in Portales, Richards’ family moved to Las Vegas, Nev., when he was six. It was about 2 1/2 years ago that he started bull riding, something his father and maternal grandfather had done before him.

“His mom wouldn’t let him do it when he was younger,” said Richards’ grandfather, Tom Tomlinson, who competed in bull riding for 16 years in the Rodeo Cowboys Association (now the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association).

“When he was real little, he used to act like he was on a horse, or riding bulls,” Tomlinson said of his grandson. “I think he just always wanted to get into it.”

Competing for the first time in the High Plains Junior Rodeo at Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena, Richards went into Saturday’s 16-19 bull riding short-go in second place. He said he’s enjoyed participating in the event.

“I really like it,” he said. “There’s a lot of cool kids and stuff. And the atmosphere here is cool.”

Tomlinson’s professional rodeo career goes back to the 1960s and early ’70s.

“I made a living at it, but I stayed hungry a lot,” he quipped. “It didn’t pay as well back then as it does now, but I won enough to make a living.”

Richards said he grew up mostly playing baseball in Las Vegas.

“But I eventually got tired of that,” he said. “(Bullriding is) something I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s just like (with) baseball; some people like to do that. It’s the same thing with bullriding.”

He competes in high school rodeos in Nevada during the school year, then returns to New Mexico and Texas during the summers. Last year he stayed with his grandfather, Tom Tomlinson, in Amarillo during the summer and rodeoed in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Tomlinson said his grandson could have been a baseball player if he’d wanted to go in that direction.

“He’s a good ballplayer,” Tomlinson said. “He could’ve done whatever he wanted to do.

“He’s a good kid, and he’s got a lot of ‘try’ in him. He wants to be the best he can in everything.”

Bull riding is now a passion for Richards, who will be a senior in the fall at Las Vegas’ Centennial High School. The 17-year-old said he wouldn’t mind eventually doing it for a living on the PRCA circuit.

“I want to go as far as I can with it,” he said. “I want to try to go to college at Eastern (New Mexico University in Portales) and try to get on the rodeo team.”