‘It’s a rush’ | TheUnion.com

‘It’s a rush’

Ever since he was in diapers, Cody Panero has been riding animals, so it’s no surprise he is now a champion bullrider.

The Nevada Union High School freshman, 15, will perform Friday night in his home town at the Penn Valley Rodeo during the Keith Wilson Memorial Bull Ride. He is the current champion junior bullrider for the Western Regional Bullriders Association, which is putting on the ride.

“I started riding sheep and calves when I was 3,” Panero said Wednesday.

Now that he’s graduated to junior bull riding, “There’s nothing better. It’s an adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s pretty great to know you can conquer something that weighs seven to eight times more than you do.”

That doesn’t mean it’s easy for Panero when he straps himself to a bull that weighs 1,500 to 1,800 pounds and tries to hang on for the magic eight seconds.

“Everything slows down, but eight seconds is the longest time when you’re on a bull,” Panero said.

The youth trains at Flying U Ranch near Marysville, riding about 12 bulls a week. He also trains with weights and runs two to three miles a day to stay in shape.

“This is my life,” said the young rider, who wants to turn pro. “It’s what I’ll do until I can’t do it anymore.”

The cowboy has the blessing of his mother, Christi Thomas, of Penn Valley.

“I enjoy bull riding, but I do worry about him getting hurt,” Thomas said. “I just say my prayers every time he gets on.”

Motherly fear does not push Thomas to intervene, however.

“When a kid has a dream and you take it away, you get nothing,” she said.

In memory of another

The memorial bull ride is named after Keith Wilson, another Nevada Union student and bullrider from the Marysville area, who was killed in a June 2003 vehicle accident on Highway 20 near Smartville.

The late cowboy was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and won the 1999 Junior World Championship for bull riding.

The memorial ride is geared toward young riders up to age 21, according to Jo Moniz of the bullriders association.

It will include seven events, including mutton busting (when young whippersnappers ride sheep), calf riding and steer riding. Bulls will take center stage for the peewee, junior, senior novice and senior open categories.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com, or call 477-4237.

Know & Go

What: Keith Wilson Memorial Bull Ride

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Penn Valley Rodeo, at Penn Valley Drive and Spenceville Road

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