Pennsylvania Bulls rider returns to Bangor for first Cross Insurance Center event in over a year

Grayson Cole recalls the first time he rode a calf, which ultimately set him on the path to his career as a professional bull rider.

“I was 7 years old. I was terrified,” Cole said. “But after it was over I was OK. I was ready for more.

Cole is now 21 and is in Bangor for the Professional Bull Riders Pendleton Whiskey Velocity 2021 three-day three-day tour. He will be one of 40 bull riders competing for cash and points that could earn him a spot in the sport’s top series, the Unleash the Beast Tour, and in the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas from November 3-7.

This weekend’s competition, the first to be held at the Cross Insurance Center since it closed for the COVID-19 pandemic, is Cole’s second trip to Bangor. He was at the last PBR event at the Cross Insurance Center in March 2020, the last event to be held before the coronavirus spread. He placed third and pocketed $3,300.

“I loved the last time I was here. It was a big event,” he said.

The 160-pound Cole hails from New Ringgold, Pennsylvania. It’s not a part of the country you would necessarily associate with bull riding.

But it’s something he’s wanted to do since he was 3 years old.

His parents, Jeffery Cole and Nina Krammes, took him to rodeos when he was a toddler, and it was there that he developed his love of the sport.

He started riding sheep at the age of 3 and switched to calves at the age of 7.

That meant a one-hour trip from New Ringgold to where the bulls were housed in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

He was involved in other rodeo activities until he was 15 when he decided to focus on bull riding.

Cole competed in the Junior National Rodeo Finals for all three years he was eligible and was involved nationally in high school bull riding. He moved on to the American Professional Rodeo Association and Bullride Mania.

He suffered a number of injuries, including three broken ankles and multiple cracked ribs.

“My ankles are still a bit weak. But they hold on,” said Cole, who considers himself one of the lucky ones.

He is in his second season on the Pendleton Whiskey Velocity Tour and has earned $34,000 in his two seasons to date. He is ranked 51st in the world with 58.33 points.

He picked up his first career victory when he last competed two weekends ago at the PBR Bull Bash at the Michiana Event Center in Shipshewana, Indiana, where he won $14,408.81.

Bullrunners are a dedicated group. They don’t let aching bodies and nagging wounds stop them from climbing over the cattle to try and last the 8 seconds that is a successful ride.

Cole said he was an adrenaline junkie who loved to ride horses.

He rides unicycles and does gymnastics to improve his agility, and he does his homework before each event.

“You learn a few days in advance which bulls you will ride. So I’m going to find out who rode that bull recently and get a video of it,” Cole said.

When not on the road with the tour, he lives with a family that owns the All-American Rodeo Company and helps them organize and run rodeos.

He can’t wait to ride the bulls in Bangor.

“I really can’t wait to get in the arena and get going,” he said.

Earnest L. Veasey