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Submitted Arctic Assassin, a bucking bull owned by Grayson Swalin of Willmar, was chosen to buck at the Professional Bull Riders finals this week in Las Vegas, Nev.

Willmar man's bucking bull qualifies for PBR finals

WILLMAR, Minn. — A Willmar man is the owner of a bucking bull that was chosen to buck in the Professional Bull Riders finals this week in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Kind of like your kid is going to be pitching in the World Series,'' said Grayson Swalin, owner of Arctic Assassin, when reached in Las Vegas.

But alas, just like sending a kid to the World Series, things can go wrong. And they did. Arctic Assassin tried to jump out of the chute on the opening night of competition Wednesday and was disqualified. His rider was unable to get out into the arena on him.

"Not a good ending,'' Swalin said.

But it's not really the end. While the disqualification means Arctic Assassin won't advance to the 2017 Professional Bull Riders final ride Saturday night, this bull still has a promising future. He's only 4 years old, or at the stage where performing bulls are really just starting out.

Swalin, an anesthesiologist with Rice Memorial Hospital, said he began investing in performing bulls about 10 years ago. This is his first animal to qualify for the PBR finals.

The World Series analogy is no exaggeration. To make it to the finals in Las Vegas, Arctic Assassin had to be ranked among the top 35 classic bulls in the nation by American Bucking Bulls Inc. The ranking is based on the scores the bull earned during competitions this past year.

Just like the cowboys who ride them, judges score the bulls by how well they perform on each ride.

When not performing, Arctic Assassin is treated as an athlete-in-training at Matt Scharping's Ranch in Arlington, Minn. Scharping, who operates Phenom Genetics, breeds, trains and cares for performing bulls. Arctic Assassin shares the ranch with bulls owned by Jared Allen, formerly with the Minnesota Vikings.

Swalin said he enjoys the excitement that comes with the competition in the PBR. And, he's no stranger to the disappointments that can come on the way. Last year, his bull Air Time appeared to be on track to be the No. 1 bull of the year, until he was injured.

As for Arctic Assassin, he's coming back to Minnesota for training, with an emphasis on chute training.

Swalin also has a couple of 2-year-old bulls in training who are Arctic Assassin's offspring. Both look pretty good, he said.

And despite Arctic Assassin's disqualification, Swalin has been enjoying the opportunity to have a front-row seat on the competition in Las Vegas.

"It was really fun to get him out here ... and be behind the chutes and be here,'' he said from Las Vegas. "A really neat deal, a fun week.''

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