story by Siri Stevens Jerry Berentis grew up in Maybell, Colorado, riding bucking horses. “Whenever you start riding bucking horses it’s every rough stock riders […]
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Meet the Member Conner Rowley
story by Lily Weinacht
Bullfighter Conner Rowley is working the CPRA finals for the third consecutive year this September, protecting bull riders alongside his friend and fellow bullfighter, Zach Devol. “The (finals) atmosphere is different because all of my good pals are there, but I’m doing the same thing—I’m there to do a good job. You’ve got to be consistent,” says Conner.
The 21-year-old from Westcliffe, Colorado, was 15 when he fought his first bull. His dad, Scott Rowley, fought bulls for many years in Colorado and neighboring states, and later raised Mexican fighting bulls. “My dad taught me a lot, and Casey Wiersma taught me a bunch when I went to his bullfighting school. I just love doing it, and a lot of those guys are my pals. It’s an adrenaline rush, and I always want to give 110%. I was definitely nervous when I started, but it was good nerves,” Conner adds. “I kept going to some practice pens like Mike Hadley’s, and getting in front of more bulls and getting more confident. I’d get run over and get back up.”
Following high school, Conner went to Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado, on a rodeo scholarship for fighting bulls at their college rodeos and in the practice pen. He graduated two years later with an associate’s degree in animal science and Ag. business. “I want to start my own cattle business sometime. I have about ten head right now, and my dad helps me out with them when I’m gone, or I have a couple buddies at home that help me out.”
Along with working CPRA rodeos the last three years with contractors including Jesse Hill of H&H Rodeo Company, Jerry Berentis of Berentis Rodeo Company, and the Southwicks of Southwick Rodeo Company, Conner just bought his PRCA card this year. He started working PRCA rodeos, and he’s also competing in the PRCA Freestyle Bullfights, where he’s sitting in the top five. “It’s a whole different ball game when you’re just one-on-one with a fighting bull and trying to have control. Otherwise, it’s always about protection for the bull rider,” Conner explains. “In the freestyle bullfighting, I like all the bulls as long as their hot and honest. If they’re not honest, they can stay hooked up with you, or they can fake it pretty good and try cutting you off.” In 2016, Conner was the Colorado State Fair Freestyle Champion, and that same year, he competed in the short round of the American Freestyle Bullfights in Las Vegas.
When he’s not pulling on his cleats, Conner runs cattle and helps his grandpa with his company, Rick’s Trees. “He owns a logging company, and he moves big trees too and does landscaping, so it’s a little bit of everything. I help him out with whatever he needs to do, and my younger brother, Cash, works for him too. Cash is fighting bulls now, and I’m helping him out. We go to the gym a bunch and work on cardio, and we have a dummy at home that we work around, with a front wheel and handles in the back to push.” Conner also enjoys playing golf and fishing in his free time.
“I’d like to make the (Mountain States) circuit finals next year,” he finishes, “and with freestyle bullfighting coming back, I’d like to be a world champion in freestyle bullfighting.”