It takes two to tango - and two more to judge the dance as perfect.
Back on Oct. 26, 1991, near Medford, Ore., a young bull rider and an angry ton of beef danced around the arena floor at a Central Point rodeo as an enthusiastic crowd provided the music.
For an amazing 8 seconds, Wade Leslie, a 5-foot-2, 125-pound horse shoer from Moses Lake, and Wolfman Skoal, an ornery 2,000-pound bull, were perfect in the eyes of two men.
Judges Russell Davis of Hermiston, Ore., and Raymond Lewis of Ione, Calif., liked what they saw.
One hundred points.
The first - and only - 100-point ride in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association history.
“I didn’t know it was a 100 ‘til after
I heard it announced,” Davis told the Prorodeo Sports News. “When the ride was over, all I could think of was 25 (points for the ride) and 25 (for the bull’s performance). That’s the first time I ever thought `perfect,’ and I’ve watched rodeo since I was 8. After I heard the 100, then I got nervous. I thought, `God, what did we do?’
“But why not? When that’s what you see, why not write it? I think there have been 100-point rides before. It’s just that no one ever wrote it down that way.”
Lewis scored the ride the same way from the other side of the arena.
“I probably seen 10,000 bull rides made, probably more, and that was the only one I probably would have marked like that,” Lewis, now 40, said this week. “It was really something special. Still is. I think about it all the time. I’ve had to explain the ride so many times … . it’s like I seen it yesterday.
“Another thing I like to tell people, it’s not like me and Russell talked it over or nothing. I’m sure it was as easy for him as it was for me. I’ve still got the scorecard.”
The way Leslie sees it, just staying on the bull for 8 seconds is a perfect ride.
“When anybody rides a bull like that, to get by him, everything has to be perfect,” he explained. “You have to be doing everything right to get him rode. Make a mistake, you get bucked off, you’re not being perfect.
“When you ride a real rank one … it seems easy because you’re doing everything right. When you’re doing everything right it takes away a lot of the bull’s power … you’re having fun.”
But that was then. Today, Leslie is just trying to resume his career. A horse he was shoeing stepped on his foot last year and broke his ankle, ending his season.
He hit a few rodeos late, but his new season starts in earnest this weekend at the Boot Corral Wrangler Prorodeo Classic at the Coliseum. Performances are at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 on Sunday, when Leslie is up.
No doubt announcer Jerry Todd will introduce Leslie as the only cowboy with a perfect score in rodeo history. Everybody does.
“I still feel pretty young and it don’t bother me to hit the ground or anything,” he said. “I still feel like I did when I was 20. I haven’t ever been hurt any until I hurt ankle.”
Born in Wenatchee and raised in George, Leslie moved to Lacey, Wash., for high school. He went to work on a thoroughbred farm working with race horses, opting for a good paycheck and a GED.
He turned down a rodeo scholarship to Community Colleges of Spokane because he couldn’t afford to give up his job and the money he was already making riding bulls. It was when the farm was sold and the horses moved to California that he turned to horse shoeing. He didn’t want to live in California or become a jockey.
So he stuck with bull riding - the road to perfection - something with which he will live forever.
A year after the perfect ride, Leslie had a rematch with Wolfman Skoal. He was bucked off in 4 seconds, got hung up and split his lip on Wolfman’s head.
Lewis said, “I have people ask me all the time, `How could you mark him (perfect)?’ Yeah, in my mind that night, that was a 100-point ride. I’ve never regretted or thought I did wrong. I seen Donny Gay when he was 97. If Donny had rode that night and Wade rode that night, Wade would have beat him.”
“You have to take it for what it’s worth and go on,” Leslie said. “It’s something I accomplished and I’m proud of. It was a goal of mine and I accomplished it. My next goal is to make the Finals.”
MEMO: This is a sidebar that appeared with this story: Rodeo begins 3-day run At the Coliseum: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.