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PBR's Ryan Dirteater making his farewell rides in OKC

Dirteater
Dirteater

The Cherokee Kid isn’t a kid anymore.

During the Express Classic Invitational at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City this weekend, Ryan Dirteater will be the old-timer in the bucking chute. At age 30, this is the Hulbert cowboy’s 12th year competing on the PBR Tour's elite level and his last.

Dirteater, who turns 31 in April, announced he will retire at the end of the 2020 season.

“I am getting older and the guys (competition) are getting younger,” Dirteater said Thursday. “These kids 18 and 19, their talent is unreal.”

It’s the same thing many people were saying about Dirteater more than a decade ago when he made his PBR debut. He had the name and panache for bull riding.

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Dirteater showed up for a PBR event in New York in 2009 sporting a Mohawk haircut. PBR television broadcaster Justin McKee dubbed him the Cherokee Kid and the name stuck.

At age 19, Dirteater had a career best 90.75 ride on the bull Black Pearl in the second round of the PBR Express Classic in Oklahoma City that year.

In the championship round, Dirteater was just a second and half from winning the Oklahoma City event with the chief of the Cherokee National watching when he was tossed by the bull, Chance, 6.5 seconds into the ride. He finished second in the event to Brazilian Ednei Caminhas.

Still, Dirteater left Oklahoma City that year second in the world standings before injuries derailed his season. Dirteater was sidelined fourth months after breaking his leg and after returning then suffered what was feared to be career-ending injury at the PBR’s final stop of the year in Connecticut.

Dirteater dislocated his knee in a gruesome way when his spur got caught in the bull rope.

“I was there watching,” said Cord McCoy, a former bull rider and now stock contractor in southeast Oklahoma. “It about almost ripped his leg off.”

Dirteater would miss the entire 2010 season and significant time over the next three years with more injuries. But each time he would return to bull riding. In 2016, he won the PBR World Finals.

Dirteater appeared poised to be a world title contender last year until he suffered a collapsed lung and lacerated liver when he was stepped on by a bull in Tulsa. He would miss three months but return in time to compete in his 11th PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.

Dirteater said he is not retiring because of the physical toll on his body.

“Bull riders, we don’t think about that, we are just out here doing what we love,” Dirteater said. “Some say I will pay for it when I get older... At the end of the season my body probably would still be good enough to go again, but I think it’s just time for me to stay home after this year. I miss a lot of stuff back home.”

Dirteater is getting married next year and wants to spend more time being a cattle rancher than a bull rider. But first, he's got one more season of bull riding in him.

He is gunning for a third consecutive Express Classic Invitational championship in Oklahoma City this weekend. That, and a world title, would be a storybook ending to Dirteater's career.

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PBR's Express Invitational Classic

When: Friday, 7:45 p.m.; Saturday, 6:45 p.m.

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Related Photos
<strong>Bull rider Ryan Dirteater, right, laughs with retired bull rider and now stock contractor Cord McCoy during a promotional event Thursday at the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum for the PBR's Express Classic Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Dirteater has drawn one of McCoy's bucking bulls, Midnight Rock, on Friday night. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Bull rider Ryan Dirteater, right, laughs with retired bull rider and now stock contractor Cord McCoy during a promotional event Thursday at the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum for the PBR's Express Classic Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Dirteater has drawn one of McCoy's bucking bulls,...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f36ae021cab1d0d8a5250e9230b169d3.jpg" alt="Photo - Bull rider Ryan Dirteater, right, laughs with retired bull rider and now stock contractor Cord McCoy during a promotional event Thursday at the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum for the PBR's Express Classic Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Dirteater has drawn one of McCoy's bucking bulls, Midnight Rock, on Friday night. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" Bull rider Ryan Dirteater, right, laughs with retired bull rider and now stock contractor Cord McCoy during a promotional event Thursday at the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum for the PBR's Express Classic Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Dirteater has drawn one of McCoy's bucking bulls, Midnight Rock, on Friday night. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Bull rider Ryan Dirteater, right, laughs with retired bull rider and now stock contractor Cord McCoy during a promotional event Thursday at the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum for the PBR's Express Classic Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Dirteater has drawn one of McCoy's bucking bulls, Midnight Rock, on Friday night. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6448f0df624382dbc45bdfbc86a3ae48.jpg" alt="Photo - Dirteater " title=" Dirteater "><figcaption> Dirteater </figcaption></figure>
Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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