No bull: Mt. View student loves riding in rodeo

Mountain View junior Matt Mecca rides a bull during the Harford Fair Pro Rodeo on Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER

BY KEVIN WOODRUFF

Mountain Viewjunior Matt Mecca loved watching the rodeo starting at a young age, and could envision himself bullriding.

But it wasn’t until last year the 16-year-old Hop Bottom resident got his chance.

Tonight he will be part of an exhibition round that’s part of the

Championship Pro Rodeo at the Harford fair.

He’s still a few years off from turning professional himself but admits the thrill is something that would be great to do for a living.

Last summer,Meccaapproached his mom and

Matt Mecca smiles while watching the Harford Fair Pro Rodeo on Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER

dad, Mark and Cheryl, about giving bullriding a try.

Mecca said his father was all for it, admitting that he wished he would have given it a shot himself when he was young.

His mother was less enthusiastic, but supportive.

However, from the first time Mecca sat atop a bull, he was hooked.

“I always wanted to try it,” Mecca said. “And I loved it right away.”

It turned out to be much more than a one-time deal, asMeccaquickly realized that he had a knack for the sport.

After riding his first exhibition at the Harford Fair last August,Meccacompeted in the high school rodeo at the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair in Meshoppen.

From there, he went on to compete inHarrisburgand Donegal, eventually qualifying for the state finals in Beaver Springs.

He took third in the high school class, qualifying him for nationals atRock Springs,Wyo., where he competed this past July 12-22.

Although he didn’t place at nationals, he learned a lot.

“It was just a great experience,”Meccasaid.

And from there,Meccahas continued to soldier on, getting better with each ride.

He practices two to four times per month at different facilities in Annville, Benton andHarpursville,N.Y.

“I go up there and usually ride two times,”Meccasaid. “Ideally I’d like to get three rides in each practice.”

While practicing,Meccaworks on different techniques including putting his arm out in front of his face, bending at the waist, keeping his core centered and not leaning back.

“There is a lot that goes into it,”Meccasaid. “But you can’t prepare for how each bull is going to jump. You just have to ride them jump for jump and see what happens.”

The danger of bull riding isn’t something that really phasesMecca.

He said the adrenaline gets flowing and he is excited to hop on.

“There’s something about hopping onto a bull that lets you realize what life is about,”Meccasaid. “Time just stands still.

“It’s just a rush like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”

That rush forMeccausually lasts between 5.8 to 6.8 seconds.

“Ideally you’d like to stay on for eight seconds,”Meccasaid. “That’s what I’m working toward.”

There haven’t been any serious injuries so far, according toMecca, just a few bruises and a concussion.

“I wear a helmet and a chest protector,”Meccasaid. “You aren’t required to wear the helmet, but I do.”

He said a bull stepped on his chest during one competition, and the chest protector saved him from serious injuries.

Meccahopes to continue to compete in the rodeo, and move up to a college program somewhere down south.

He will be performing with the High School Rodeo at the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair on Sept. 2 at4 p.m.and on Labor Day, Sept. 3, at2 p.m.