Daylon Swearingen, currently ranked #2 in the world, comes back home this weekend as the PBR visits Madison Square Garden for the Monster Energy Buck Off.
Daylon Swearingen is one of the grittiest, hardest-working athletes in pro sports. After taking the western sports world by storm in 2019, driving more than 30,000 miles across North America en route to the 2019 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Bull Riding Championship, 2019 PBR Canada Championship, and qualifications to both the PBR World Finals and NFR, Swearingen continued to excel in 2020 and 2021, proving he would be a force for years to come.
The 22-year-old native of Piffard, New York has been riding since he was a kid. Swearingen is the son of barrel racer and trick rider Carrie, while his father Sam created the prominent Rawhide Rodeo Company, which produces more than 100 events a year and is known for its top animal athletes. Swearingen’s career began aboard the back of sheep and calves, with the New Yorker steadily advancing to bulls by the time he entered high school, where he also competed in bareback.
Once graduating from the high school ranks, Swearingen began competing at the collegiate level for Panola College in Carthage, TX. pursuing a degree in Land and Ranch Management. Part of the 2019 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) National Championship team at Panola College, Swearingen also claimed individual success, capturing the NIRA National Championship in bull riding.
I had the opportunity to speak with the 2021 PBR Touring Pro Division Champion, in a fun Q & A ,to discuss his accomplishments, his hip and shoulder surgery at the end of the 2020 season, and eventual comeback that vaulted him to a #2 world ranking.
Q & A With Daylon Swearingen
When the phone rings, it’s a representative from the PBR and she asks if I am ready to speak to Daylon to which I respond absolutely, he comes on and you can hear the kindness in the 22-year-olds voice. We had a slight issue as he kept calling me sir, I am not that old, am I? This kid was a pleasure to talk to and you can hear the passion he has for this sport in everything he spoke about.
When you were young and riding sheep and calves in Piffard, NY was becoming a professional bull rider something you always wanted to do?
Yes, I always wanted to rodeo and always wanted to PBR and I knew it was pretty cool.
How great is it to ride at Madison Square Garden this weekend?
Madison Square Garden already has a lot of history and normally the PBR season is the first event of the year so it kind of starts the year and I always wanted to be at the start of the year beyond the tour and carry on through it. I think it was in 2018 and 2019 we brought bulls here. I didn’t compete but I brought bulls here and then in 2020 I rode here.
Do you have a lot of family coming to the event this weekend?
Not as much as because with everything going on, most of my family is from upstate New York, right between Buffalo and Rochester and it’s just kind of a little long [to travel to NYC].
You began your PBR career in 2018 and today you are ranked #2 in the world, how does that feel?
I just want to stay there, it’s the beginning of the year and just need to stay there and move forward. We’ve gotten close up in there in 2020 and then had some injuries and I look forward to being up in the top this year.
We discussed his injuries that required surgery following the 2020 season. I asked if his rehab was harder than he expected?
I wouldn’t say it was harder, I just kind of maybe didn’t come back cool. I came back good, but then I just kind of stayed level. I had a second at my first event [back from surgery].
What is your favorite arena you have appeared at?
It would definitely be Madison Square Garden or AT&T Stadium.
I asked him if he could explain how the rating system works at a PBR event along with the breakdown of this weekends event at MSG?
This weekend here in Madison Square Garden, there’ll be two rounds and a short round. So the shorter round will be the top 12 guys from over the two days. So the first two bullls will be drawn [by] random computer draw. So I don’t get to pick the first bull I get on, but then the short round will pick on the order we’re coming back in. So that’s kind of when you want to be on the top. You want to get a bull that you want to get on and it’s 50 points for us and 50 points for the bull so you don’t want a bulll thats too nice to ride and then you have a low score. You want to have a good bull and a good ride and that makes good score.
They [the bulls] get scored on how high they jump and the extension of their kick, and if they switch. There’s a lot of variables to it.
Daylon ,moved to Texas after he finished high school. I asked what he missed about New York?
Texas gets pretty hot in the summer time, New York has pretty good summers but I don’t I don’t miss the snow, I miss skiing a little bit. I miss the brisk air in the morning.
What’s harder, staying on the bull for 8 seconds, or getting off the bull once the eight seconds has expired?
I mean, they’ll definitely get you off, you don’t have to worry about the choice at the end of the day. Getting off safely, now that’s what you got to work on, that’s what I need to worry about (laughing).
We ended our Q & A discussing how much he likes this sport. His answer was short, but displayed the love he has for being in the PBR.
Yeah, I love this sport. I’m very thankful to have it in my life.
For the 15th time in history, PBR (Professional Bull Riders) will buck into “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” as the toughest sport on dirt holds one of the initial events of the 2022 season for the elite PBR Unleash The Beast, invading the Big Apple on Jan. 7-8 for Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, presented by Ariat. For two nights only, 40 of the best riders in the world will square off against the rankest bucking bulls in the nation, the ultimate showdown of man vs. beast, seeking to be crowned the event champion and earn crucial points towards the world standings. (courtesy MSG Networks)
The New York City event will also be one of three Majors this season, giving riders the chance to earn increased world points and their share of the augmented event purse.
The event will be held on Friday, January 7 at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday, January 8 at 6:45 p.m.
Tickets are available through the Madison Square Garden Box office, MSG.Com, and Ticketmaster.