BISMARCK, N.D. – Lachlan Richardson understands completely that in a matter of seconds his life can be over or completely turned upside down as a professional bull rider.
The 24-year-old tries to keep those dark thoughts in the back of his mind.
“I always look at it as it is more dangerous driving to the bull riding than it is getting on,” Richardson said. “Whether that is wrong or not, that is what it is to me. You have to be positive.
“You try not to think about it. You know in the back of your head that it can happen to yourself or to a close buddy. It can happen any day and anywhere.”
And when it does, it is never easy.
Such was the case on Friday night when Richardson began to unpack his gear bag inside the Bismarck Civic Center for Round 1 of the Dakota Community Bank PBR Bull Riding Challenge Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Bismarck, North Dakota.
24 hours earlier, Richardson’s good friend Bradie Gray was severely injured with life-threatening injuries when he was stepped on by Levi The Boss during the 2017 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.
“It sucks really,” Richardson said. “He is family. He is tough and he is in good hands. Everyone worries, but all we can do is hope it all goes well.”
Gray, a 20-year-old Australian bull riding star for Odessa College, has undergone multiple surgeries at Wyoming Medical Center and is listed in critical condition since first arriving there on Thursday evening with no pulse or heartbeat, according to the Casper Star Tribune.
Richardson’s brother, Cliff, is married to Gray’s sister, Jess.
Lachlan and Bradie have known each other since they were kids, though, and have traveled to a few PBR events in the United States when Bradie wasn’t competing at college rodeos.
Richardson knew exactly what his buddy would have wanted him to do on Friday night:
The Gresford, Australian, bull rider did just that by going 2-for-2 for a third-place finish.
Richardson made a fantastic 90.5-point ride on Moleek during the championship round, which ended with him spurring his way to the 8-second mark.
“This is good,” Richardson said. “He can’t watch it yet, but when he sees it he will have a smile on his face. It will help him come back to do what he loves to do.”
It is Richardson’s first 90-point ride at any level since riding Seven Dust for an emotional 92.25 points last summer in Thackerville, Oklahoma, days after his close friend and Australian rodeo star Blake Hallam died in a car crash.
“When Bradie hears I did well, I could see him getting a smile,” Richardson said. “It is special.”
Richardson began his night with an 81-point ride on Chloe’s Pet in Round 1.
The five-time PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals qualifier earned 30 points toward the world standings Friday night.
Richardson was competing in only his fifth event of the season after missing the first half recovering from offseason bicep surgery.
He is competing on Saturday night during the final night of competition in Bismarck. All of the action begins on PBR LIVE at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“It is real big,” Richardson said. “Any ride is a win. I am a long way behind, but I am looking forward and not back. It will work out in the end.”
Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger said, “I thought he did really well. Hell, it looks like he is back. He hasn’t lost a step. (Moleek) bucked really hard, and he just sat up there and rode him perfect. He kicked his feet loose, and he rode that bull the only way you could.”
Richardson knows a torn bicep muscle pales in comparison to what his friend is fighting through 500 miles away.
Gray had been treated for collapsed lungs, broken ribs and bruising around his heart. He was also placed into a medically-induced coma when he first arrived at Wyoming Medical Center, but Mick informed fans that his son has since awakened and is progressing well.
“He is starting to improve,” Mick wrote. “He woke when we were in there. He tried to talk, but couldn't with the ventilator in. That will stay in for a few days to help him breathe. (He) wiggled his fingers and toes. He even wanted to write something down on a piece of paper, but was too weak. His blood pressure is good now and holding by itself.
“Bradie is an amazing young man and I thought we had lost him last night. It was touch and go for a while, but someone up there was looking out for him. Thanks everyone for their support, prayers and messages.”
2012 PRCA champion and current No. 14 PBR bull rider Cody Teel expressed his support to Gray and his family.
Teel won the 2011 College National Finals Rodeo while competing for Sam Houston State.
“I hope he is going to be OK,” Teel said. “I know all the work it takes to get there. It is bad to get hurt anywhere, let alone the College Finals. I know you invest your whole year to make it to the Finals. That is your goal.
“Anytime trauma is involved, that is scary. I am praying for him and hope he is doing OK.”
2016 World Champion Cooper Davis added, “I heard it was kind of one of those freak deals, and when you are playing this game that is always a possibility. It is a scary possibility. My prayers go out to him and his family. I hope he pulls through it and will be back on top.”
Bradie last competed at a PBR-sanctioned event on April 14 in Perkins, Oklahoma. He is currently 153rd in the world standings and was named the 2016 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year last season.
“He is pretty chill,” Richardson said. “He is a quiet, skinny guy that is pretty sticky and can spur one good. He hasn’t come here much yet because of college. He had come with us one other summer for like a couple weeks. He wants to do all he can and go as far as he can. College is just the start for him.”
Richardson checked in on Gray’s status Saturday with his brother and was told Gray was responding well to his surgeries.
Gray still has ways to go, but Richardson isn’t surprised to hear his buddy is putting up a fight.
“He is tough. He will be alright,” Richardson concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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