Behind the chutes: St. Louis

Highlights

  • 'Everything is coming my way right now'

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He couldn’t walk up onto the shark cage without assistance, but after winning his second Built Ford Tough Series event of 2011, Guilherme Marchi said, “Everything is coming my way right now.”

Marchi, who has recently recovered from a wrist injury suffered a year ago, was a perfect 3-for-3 when he climbed into the bucking chute Sunday afternoon. But he twisted his left knee and ankle when Booger Red reared up while the two were still in the box.

Shane Proctor had already ridden his fourth bull, and Marchi knew Austin Meier and Sean Willingham both had a chance to do the same.

“I knew I needed to get on that bull and ride, so I came back in the short go and tried to pick the best bull in the short go,” said Marchi.

He made the whistle for 88 points and a quarter-point lead over Proctor going into the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where he selected Priceless.

Marchi had ridden Priceless once before, Ernest Desrosiers for 90 points.

Silvano Alves had momentarily taken the lead in the average before Proctor covered Chicken on a Chain to become the first rider to cover all five of his bulls. Marchi then got the outing he was expecting.

“I know that bull is a really good bull,” he said of the combination of kick and power Priceless brings with each out. “I wish every short go I could get on that bull.”

Marchi continues to ascend the world standings. While he’s still in third place, he’s now within 471.75 points of No. 1 Valdiron de Oliveira. Marchi has had four Top 5 finishes in the past six BFTS events, including two event wins.

When asked if he thought his performance at the St. Louis Invitational was a statement that he’s as strong as he was prior to 2010, Marchi said, “I think so.”

“I respect everybody,” he said. “Every year it’s almost the same guys. The Top 10 guys are strong every year, and I’m just proud.”

Marchi’s five-bull total was 437.5 points, giving him a weekend total of 1,102.5 points, but his sights are on October and what he calls “the big buckle.”

“I’m just going to take care of riding my bulls and see what happens,” he said.

NEWS and NOTES

Ben busted: Ben Jones selected Big Easy in the bull draft for Round 4 at St. Louis, but it was anything but an easy weekend for the Dancing Australian, after he fractured some ribs Friday night. Although he managed to compete Saturday night in Round 2, he took a second shot to the rib cage after covering Buffalo Hump for 86.25 points and was unable to compete Sunday afternoon. Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Jones said it was painful just to breathe. He added, “I’m getting too old for this.”

Headache: According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Paulo Lima had X-Rays and a CT scan performed at St. Louis University Hospital, which showed no fractures or serious injuries beyond a concussion. He was released from the hospital Saturday night and remains questionable for Chicago.

A new handle on things: SEAN WILLINGHAM, who finished fourth in St. Louis, has been riding with a Brazilian rope braided by Jared Farley, but said he’s awaiting another one. This time he had Renato Nunes’ older brother Marcel braid a rope that he’s hoping to have in time for Chicago. After riding four of five bulls last weekend, including an 88.5-point effort on Big Tex, Willingham joked that he’s “starting to get fond of” his Farley-braided rope. The main difference between the two is that the rope he’s waiting on will have a “smoother” and tighter handle than the one he’s currently using.

Arm holds up: Friday night, Kody Lostroh admitted he wasn’t sure how his injured left elbow would hold up. Sunday afternoon he had his answer with his second Top 10 finish of the season. The 2009 World Champion covered three of five bulls. He told broadcaster Craig Hummer the difference between this injury and the older, surgically repaired injury to the same elbow is that last time he completely tore ligaments and tendons, whereas this time the “biggest thing is I tore some muscle off the bone, which makes it painful when I ride.”

Warming up: LJ Jenkins realizes he’s had a “decent start to the season,” but the 23-year-old is still trying to figure out how to make the whistle in the opening rounds. He was 2-for-3 in St. Louis, and for the sixth time in eight events he bucked off in Round 1. Six of his nine buckoffs in 2011 have come in the first round, but he’s still managed to cover 51.7 percent. “I don’t know what it is,” said Jenkins, who added that he feels good and is riding just as well. “I think I need to just start getting on a bull the day before, at my house.”

Briscoe struggling: Travis Briscoe has been having trouble lately with his head getting too far back, which has affected his ability to make the whistle. It’s a problem he’s had since fracturing his neck earlier in his career. He’s ridden only two of his past 10, and an 80-point ride on Cooper Tires War Paint in Round 1 in St. Louis broke a streak of six straight buckoffs. He fell five spots in the standings and is now ranked 33rd in the world with three BFTS events left before the second cut of the season. Briscoe recently wrote the word “CHIN” across the knuckles of his riding glove as a reminder to keep his chin tucked.

More knee problems for Canter: Brian Canter said his left knee didn’t bother him nearly as much Sunday morning as it did Saturday morning. He’s still in disbelief that he tore his left ACL on his dismount Friday night after covering Bootlegger. He didn’t notice anything at the time, but when he woke up Saturday, he “could hardly walk on it.” He said it isn’t nearly as painful as it was a couple years ago when he tore the right ACL after wiping out on a mini-bike.

— by Keith Ryan Cartwright

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