Buckles, Bravery and Balance Help Spur CCJH Champion Bull Rider to Victory
By Sally Marks
Logan Reichwald, a seventh grader at Cactus Canyon Junior High School, 801 W. Southern Ave. in Apache Junction, AZ, was named 2018 Arizona Jr. High School Rodeo Association Bull Riding State Champion.
Logan has been riding bulls for two years. Before the end of 2017, Logan had won nine championship buckles and was invited to major rodeo and bull riding events for 2018. He was the youngest bull rider at Apache Junction’s Lost Dutchman Days and was invited to Parada Del Sol Rodeo’s Young Guns bull riding event, where he was the only junior high contestant to ride with high school competitors.
Logan is a member of the Arizona Junior High School Rodeo Association (AHSRA). AHSRA is a sanctioned sport in many communities, and participants must maintain good grades to compete. Logan’s grades and conduct are checked before every event before he can compete.
The AHSRA season started off in Payson, AZ, in September 2017, and has had seven events leading up to the state finals that were recently held in Prescott. Logan has won three of these events and placed in all them, most in the top three spots. He went into the state competition in the #1 spot.
The competition was an intense ordeal akin to the plot in a movie. Logan came out strong in round 1 and placed 1st with a 70 point ride. During Round 2, the bulls came out harder and riders (including Logan) were thrown, and the bull he was riding stepped on his back. Logan was sore, but continued to compete. In the third and final round, the #2 rider, Brady Turgeon, from New River, AZ, made a great 72 point ride giving him the win for the weekend.
In order for Logan to keep his #1 spot, he had to do something spectacular. He gave it all and had a beautiful ride that scored him 71 points and a second place finish on the day and the weekend.
After average points were awarded (a complicated system that includes how long the rider stays on, whether the rider has a qualified eight-second ride, how much the bull bucks, as well as foot position and posture), Logan ended the AJHSRA season with a 4.5 lead making him the 2018 Arizona Jr. High School Rodeo Association Bull Riding State Champion.
Although he has numerous wins under his belt, it hasn’t been an easy ride. In his first year of learning the sport (the summer before his sixth grade year), he had a major setback. He was bucked off, and the 1,500 pound bull he was riding stepped on his leg. Logan suffered a severely broken leg that required surgery. He had a long recovery, but he also had a growth spurt, growing seven inches in seven months. During his recuperation, Logan became a student of his favorite sport and watched videos of bull riding and studied proper technique and hand and foot placement.
During his long recovery period, there was no question in Logan’s mind that he would get back in the saddle as soon as he was able. When Stacie asked her son if he was sure he wanted to return to the bull ring, his answer was simple: “It’s what I love”. When asked about potential injuries, he shrugged his lanky shoulders and simply said, “It’s part of the sport.”
Logan’s parents, Tom and Stacie Reichwald, continue to support his passion for bull riding, but they do keep a close eye on him before competitions to make sure he is focused. If not, they have said they would pull him from that particular event.
Logan admits that he has nearly pulled himself from competing when his negativity started to bubble up, and he felt he wasn’t focused. He is surprisingly introspective for a young teenager. His pragmatic mindset, humility and height (he is 6’3” and still growing) make him look and seem much older than his 13 years.
The Reichwald family understands the risks of bull riding, and they are very involved in the preparation and education that goes into the sport. Stacie takes pictures and videos of Logan’s rides so he can study what he does and how he can improve. Tom checks in with his son to make sure he is mentally and physically okay, particularly after an injury. “It can be scary at times watching your kid when he’s sitting on the back of a 2,000-plus-pound bucking bull, but I have to have an open mind,” said Stacie. “I want to support my kids as they go after their dreams. Even if it’s scary. Even when it’s hard.”
Logan will be heading into Nationals in Huron, South Dakota, at the end of June as the #1 junior bull rider in the state of Arizona. Everyone in the Apache Junction Unified School District, and particularly Cactus Canyon Junior High, will be rooting for Logan as he competes. And that ain’t no bull.
Photo above: Reichwald will pull himself out of a competition if he isn’t focused.