Marchi hits another milestone

Guilherme Marchi moved to 20th in the world standings. Photo: Andy Watson/BullStockMedia.com

Highlights

  • Guilherme Marchi joined Mike Lee as the only riders with 500 rides in 1,000 BFTS outs.
  • Meanwhile, Derek Kolbaba became the third rookie to win a BFTS event this season along with Jess Lockwood and Wallace de Olivieira.
  • For the bulls, Pearl Harbor and Crossfire continue to make a statement in the World Champion Bull race.

In This Article

DES MOINES, Iowa – Here are three things we learned from this weekend’s Des Moines Invitational at Wells Fargo Arena.

Marchi wins Round 2 with 1,000 out of his career (4-24-16)

Guilherme Marchi joined 2004 World Champion Mike Lee as the only two riders with 500 qualified rides and 1,000 career outs in PBR history on Sunday afternoon.

Marchi won Round 2 with 87 points on Striker with the 1,000 out of his career for 100 points toward the world standings.

“There you go,” Marchi said. “I am proud of that. That means I have rode more than 50 percent. It is good. That is a good accomplishment for my career. I am happy to have gotten on 1,000 bulls in my career. That is a lot of bulls. I have been here since 2004. I am so happy for everything.”

Marchi may have attempted 1,000 bulls in his career, but he never had met Striker until this weekend.

“That was the first time I saw that bull,” Marchi said. “Gene (Owen), the owner, said, ‘He is a real good bull. Guilherme, go win some money.’  He was fighting me in the chute a little bit. He was right into my hand, but he made me try hard and I did it.”

The round victory was Marchi’s second of 2016.

Marchi then rode Machiney Auctioneer’s Little Joe for 88 points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round to conclude the event second overall with 400 world points. Marchi, who is the PBR’s all-time rides (559) leader, finished second in the round behind event-winner Derek Kolbaba for 60 world points.

The 2008 World Champion finished second in the event average for 240 of those world points, and moves to 20th in the world standings after beginning the event ranked 26th

“I wish I could get on another 1,000 bulls in the PBR before I retire, but that is not going to happen,” Marchi concluded with a big laugh. “I am still fighting to win and I still am having fun to ride bulls.”

Derek Kolbaba wins first career event

The rookie invasion on the Built Ford Tough Series continued this weekend as a rookie was victorious for the second week in a row.

Kolbaba joined his good friend Jess Lockwood, as well as Wallace de Oliveira, as the latest BFTS rookie to win an event this season after riding Kookaburra for 89 points in the championship round.

The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider then watched the final six bull riders all get bucked off in the championship to help him earn his first career victory.

“Finally got that first win,” Kolbaba said. “This is what I have been searching for all year long. It worked out here, but I didn’t think it would coming off that first one. Heck, I knew if I came back and rode the other two it would at least put me in a good position. Sometimes it works that way and I am happy it did.”

Kolbaba bounced back from his 4.78-second buckoff against Slick Rick in Round 1 by riding I’m Trouble for 86.75 points in Round 2 Sunday for a second-place round finish and 60 world points.

He then positioned himself for the victory and another 100 world points by making the 8-second mark on Kookaburra.

“I had been on him before in Phoenix and blew my hand out of my rope,” Kolbaba said, referring to his 4.64-second buckoff last month. “I knew today I had things situated with my hand a little better and he fit me pretty good, especially when he went back to the left.”

Kolbaba earned the victory with 560 world points. He earned 400 for winning the event average, 100 for winning the championship round, and 60 for placing second in Round 2.

Kolbaba just 20 years old three days ago, and has begun to hang out with Lockwood – the 18-year-old phenom who won Billings, Montana, last week – since the Volborg, Montana, bull rider made his debut in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The victory moves Kolbaba from 16th to seventh in the world standings. He trails world leader J.B. Mauney by only 575 points.

Pearl Harbor and Crossfire tie for high-marked bull with speedy buckoffs

Jared Allen’s Air Time (45 points) made headlines by bucking off two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney in 3.63 seconds, but it was Pearl Harbor and Crossfire earning the highest bull scores in Des Moines during Sunday’s championship round.

Pearl Harbor started things off with a 45.75-point bull score by rearing Reese Cates back even before the chute gate had fully opened and Cates was sent flying toward the hard ground in 1.88 seconds.

“Whenever I nodded, he kind of reared up like a bucking horse would and it just ran me back just enough,” Cates said. “That bull is so strong and so fast that if he gets you raised up he is going to make you pay for it. Lesson learned. I got something to take away from it and I damn sure would like another shot at it.”

Five outs later and Gage Gay was getting whipped sideways to the floor in almost the exact amount of time – 1.89 seconds.

“It felt like I could have got back on him, but that first jump he snatched on me pretty hard,” Gay said. “I was just a little behind and I tried to get back to him. He is strong. Coope (Davis) rode him in Albuquerque and he told me I needed to stay out over him because he is really strong and I tried, but that first jump he got my chin up and I wasn’t getting it back down.”

The 45.75-point bull score is a career-high for Crossfire.

Injury Updates

There were only 14 riders in the championship round after a series of riders were unable to compete in the final round because of injuries.

Jay Miller (dislocated right shoulder), Jorge Valdiviezo (right ankle injury), Valdiron de Oliveira (left knee sprain/right groin strain) and Paulo Lima (undisclosed injury) all missed the championship round. 

2004 World Champion Mike Lee did not compete Sunday because of a separated right shoulder (free arm) from Round 1 when he was bucked off by Cow Skin Rug in 4.95 seconds.

Lee arrived to the arena Sunday morning unable to lift his arm anywhere close to above his head.

Fellow Top-10 bull rider Tanner Byrne also missed the final day of competition because of a right forearm injury after he was stepped on by Ram It. Byrne was already on his way home to get X-rays on his forearm.

Stormy Wing missed Sunday’s competition because of a right groin strain, while Ryan Dirteater competed with a right lower rib injury.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Valdiviezo bounces back from 7-second buckoffs (4-23-16)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Here are three things we learned from the Des Moines Invitational on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Jorge Valdiviezo knows he has let multiple opportunities pass him by this season with four 7 second buckoffs.

Valdiviezo could have won the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational last weekend in Billings, Montana, if not for two costly buckoffs just past 7 seconds.

He responded in Des Moines by making sure he made the 8-second mark and was rewarded for his extra effort.

The Baja California, Mexico, bull rider rode Shoot Out The Lights for 87.25 points and a second-place finish in Round 1.

“I knew I had a pretty good draw and tried to enjoy it and do my job,” Valdiviezo said. “I come here to try and ride and continue to live my dream.”

Valdiviezo is 4-for-11 on the Built Ford Tough Series this season. He finished second in Round 3 in Billings with an 88-point ride on Chantilly Lace and a career-best fifth overall.

The 26-year-old earned 60 points toward the world standings Saturday and has jumped from 38th to 28th in the world standings in two weeks.

Valdiveizo could be ranked even higher if not for six of his seven buckoffs coming beyond 5 seconds.

He explained his tough-luck buckoffs have been a matter of him getting beat in the final seconds rather than any mental error on his end.

“I am frustrated. I can’t do that,” he said. “I can ride and 7 seconds doesn’t work for me. I need to try so hard. Man, I swear it is not a physical (mistake). I try so hard every week to ride and maybe it has been some (bad) luck.”

Valdiviezo has drawn Rocco (8-0, BFTS) for Round 2 on Sunday afternoon.

Dirteater wins Round 2; Mauney bucks off in return

Ryan Dirteater bounced back from a goose egg performance in Billings, Montana, last week to win Round 1 of the Des Moines Invitational and gain 100 points toward the world standings with an 88-point ride on Milky Jones.

“That was a good bull of Jared Allen’s,” Dirteater said. “Matt Scharping told me that he is going to really buck and go either way. He bucks by feel and it worked out tonight. I kept on trying, kept on making those moves and we scored for 88.”

Dirteater moved from 10th in the world standings to eighth with the round win – his second of 2016 – and, more importantly, gained 100 points on world leader J.B. Mauney.

Mauney was bucked off by Justified in 6.53 seconds in his first action since missing Billings because of a left hip pointer and left elbow injury. Mauney began the ride in good position, but was caught off guard when Justified slowed down and turned back just past the halfway mark.

The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider said before the event on the PBR LIVE pre-show that he “was feeling great” and had begun taking a multivitamin that has helped his hip improve.

The buckoff helped Dirteater cut Mauney’s lead to 627.5 points in the world standings.

 “I really try not to think about it,” Dirteater said, “but every bit helps.”

Dirteater was one of three riders inside the Top 10 to record a qualified ride.

Joao Ricardo Vieira moved to third in the world standings with his 85.25-point ride on Cowtown Slinger. Vieira, who has successfully ridden Cowtown Slinger four consecutive times on the BFTS, finished fourth in the round for 40 world points. He trails Mauney by 300 points.

World No. 4 Paulo Lima turned down his re-ride option after riding his first re-ride bull Highwood Squirrel for 73 points. Lima heads into Round 2 in 10th place.

Rubens Barbosa used an 85.75-point ride on Mr. Big Stuff for third place and 50 points in the world standings, while Kasey Hayes placed fifth with his 84.5-point effort on Secret Agent. Hayes picked up 30 points toward the world standings.

Valdiron de Oliveira (83.25 points on Black Powder) and Cooper Davis (83 points on Comfortably Numb) finished in sixth and seventh place for 15 and five world points, respectively.

Dirteater went to sports medicine to grab a bag of ice for his ribs following the ride. The Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider didn’t think it was anything to serious though.

“I was just making moves I guess,” Dirteater said. “I need to start stretching more.”

He will take on Torch (3-1, BFTS) in Round 2.

Babbington builds off Touring Pro Division win

It was only a Touring Pro Division event on Thursday night, but Fraser Babbington gained much more than 60 points toward the world standings with his event-winning 87.5 point ride on Wild Eyes in Clovis, California.

“I have been in a little bit of a bad run lately and haven’t been covering my bulls,” Babbington said. “I got one rode so that boosted my confidence back up. There is more self-belief that is what I am here for.”

Babbington built off his TPD victory by riding Knot Head for 80.5 points and eighth place in Round 1 here in Des Moines.

There were a total of 11 qualified rides in Round 1.

Babbington was offered a re-ride, but decided to keep his score and look ahead toward the final day of competition Sunday.

“I have actually taken every re-ride option I have been given, but it is out of three bull so I am going to leave it for tomorrow.”

Babbington said it was easier to turn down the re-ride knowing he was no longer an alternate for the BFTS because of his win in Clovis.  He qualified for Des Moines as the 37th ranked rider in the world, but his Clovis win bumped him up to No. 33.

“For sure,” Babbington said. “I ended up getting in as the first alternate this week. That’s a bit of pressure. That win after Clovis changed everything around. Mentally, mainly.”

Babbington is hoping a strong finish Sunday in Des Moines will put him far enough ahead to qualify for the final BFTS event of the first half – Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas.

The PBR Major carries a $100,000 payday.

“Dollars, dollars, dollars,” Babbington said. “Keep your hand shut. I have never been to Vegas before.”

Injury Updates

Top 10 riders Tanner Byrne and Mike Lee each sustained injuries during Round 1.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Byrne bruised and sustained some abrasions on his right forearm (riding arm) when he was stepped on by Ram It. He is questionable for Round 2.

Lee is probable for Round 2 after separating his right shoulder (free arm) when he was bucked off by Cow Skin Rug in 4.95 seconds.

Stormy Wing is questionable for Round 2 because of a strained right groin he sustained attempting to ride Tom Horn.  Wing was unable to attempt his re-ride bull.

There were 11 riders competing with injuries in Round 1: Justin Paton (sprained right riding hand/sprained left sternoclavicular joint/sprained right knee), Kasey Hayes (right shoulder separation of his free arm), Stormy Wing (aggravation of an old sternal fracture), Derek Kolbaba (sprained left riding hand), Wallace de Oliveira (right knee sprain), Rubens Barbosa (right SI sprain and sprained right ankle), Fabiano Vieira (right thigh bruise), Silvano Alves (bruised chest), Valdiron de Oliveira (sprained left knee/strained right groin), Gage Gay (sprained right thumb, riding hand) and Guilherme Marchi (sore right knee). 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

World No. 1 Mauney returning at Des Moines Invitational (4-20-16)

PUEBLO, Colo. – Defending World Champion and current world No. 1 J.B. Mauney is set to return to competition this weekend at the Des Moines Invitational.

Mauney informed the PBR competition department this week he is ready to ride after missing the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational in Billings, Montana, because of a left hip and left elbow injury.

RELATED: Click HERE for the complete Round 1 draw. 

The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider injured his hip during Round 2 of the Bad Boy Mowdown two weeks ago in Little Rock, Arkansas, when War Party flipped over inside the bucking chute and hit Mauney with his horn. A week before Little Rock, Mauney aggravated his chronic elbow injury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when Speed Dial jerked him forward inside the bucking chute.

Mauney returns to the BFTS still atop the world standings after the majority of Top 10 riders failed to gain any ground on him in Billings.

He is 22-for-39 (56.41 percent) on the BFTS and takes a 208.01-point lead on No. 2 Fabiano Vieira into Des Moines, Iowa.

Mauney won the Des Moines Invitational last season inside Wells Fargo Arena in his first event back from a torn left ACL. He had missed the previous five BFTS events because of the injury before going 2-for-3 for the Des Moines victory.

The 29-year-old has drawn Justified (6-3, BFTS) for Round 1.

No. 13 Robson Palermo informed the competition department he will not be competing in Des Moines after sustaining a concussion last weekend in Billings during his 5.46-second buckoff on High Chaparral

No. 15 Mason Lowe is also out this weekend after sustaining a right groin strain in Billings.

No. 19 Ben Jones (shoulder surgery), No. 27 Cody Heffernan (visa issues) and No. 33 J.W. Harris (elbow surgery) also remain out.

The five riders have been replaced in the draw by No. 36 Jay Miller, No. 37 Nathan Schaper, No. 38 Fraser Babbington, No. 38 Juliano Da Silva and No. 40 Reese Cates.

Miller used a 2-for-4 performance (115 world points) in Billings to jump from 50th to 36th in the standings. He is only 7.5 points behind No. 35 Tyler Harr.

The Liberty, South Carolina, bull rider has a strong first-round matchup against Ante Up (3-1, BFTS). Nevada Newman rode Ante Up for 88.25 points to win Round 1 in St. Louis, but Ante Up has bucked off three straight opponents (Valdiron de Oliveira, Ryan Dirteater and Lindomar Lino) since then.

Schaper is up to 37th in the world standings courtesy of his 3-for-3 victory at the Omaha, Nebraska, BlueDEF Tour event last weekend. Schaper earned the win with an 85-point ride on Cache Idiot.

The Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider is 17.5 points behind the Top 35 and will face Machinery Auctioneer’s Colonel (8-1, BFTS) in Round 1.

Des Moines is Schaper’s first BFTS event since being cut from the PBR’s top tour following the Duluth Invitational and an 8-for-28 (28.57 percent) start to the season.

Babbington and Silva are 37.5 points behind Harr. Babbington has drawn Knot Head (1-1, BFTS), while Silva will take on Going Fast (4-3, BFTS).

Cates is 47.5 points behind the Top 35. He has drawn Big Dan (3-3, BFTS).

Billings winner Jess Lockwood will look to build off his 3-for-4 showing in Billings with a Round 1 matchup against Uncle Tink (9-4, BFTS).

Lockwood has a won at least one BFTS round in the first three events of his career.

This weekend is the Built Ford Tough Series’ final stop in Des Moines. The PBR brings its exciting top-tier of bull riding to 26 stops across the United States and, with a limited number of events each year, the PBR is continuing to look into expanding the BFTS to all corners of the country.

Therefore, with the goal of bringing the BFTS to a new market in 2017, the PBR has decided to not return to Des Moines with a BFTS event next season. Instead, the PBR is looking into potentially hosting a BlueDEF Tour event at Wells Fargo Arena in 2017 to continue to provide the passionate Des Moines fan base with the toughest sport on dirt. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Aparecido gains 350 points in world title race (4-17-16)

BILLINGS, Mont. – Here are three things we learned from the Stanley Performance in Action Invitational this weekend at Rimrock Auto Arena

Eduardo Aparecido was the lone rider ranked inside the Top 10 of the world standings to take advantage of world leader J.B. Mauney electing to not compete in Billings, Montana, this weekend because of a left elbow and left hip injury.

Aparecido used an 89.25-point ride on Cooper Tires Brown Sugar to finish the three-day event 3-for-4 and earned 350 points toward the world standings.

“That was a good ride,” Aparecido said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “I knew that bull. That is the second time I got on him and he bucked me off one time, and right now I had a chance to pick him in the short go and I rode him pretty good for 89.5 points. I felt strong this week and felt he would fit me good.”

Aparecido was able to bounce back with two qualified rides Sunday afternoon – he rode Torch for 87.5 points and 35 world points in Round 3 – after separating his left-sided ribs during the 15/15 Bucking Battle Saturday night attempting to ride Big Cat.

“I got on in the 15/15 and got hurt and I went back to the room and I prayed to wake up healthy and strong. I did pretty good today,” he said. “I came here strong and put together a strong weekend and am happy.”

Aparecido moves up to sixth in the world standings after arriving in Billings ranked 10th. He now trails Mauney by only 428.34 points.

It was a much different story for the rest of the riders that began the weekend in the Top 10. Not including Aparecido, the rest of the Top 10 went 3-for-29. Two of those rides came from Tanner Byrne, who finished in 10th place with 50 world points. The other ride was the 500th of Mike Lee’s career – an 86.75-point ride on Tahonta’s Magic.

18-year-old wins home state event

Jess Lockwood used a dominant Sunday afternoon to win his first ever Built Ford Tough Series event by going 3-for-4 and sweeping both rounds of competition Sunday.

Lockwood, a high school senior, rode Modified Clyde for a career-high 90.5 points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round before Cooper Davis was bucked off by Legal Tender in 4.38 seconds to seal the Volborg, Montana, bull rider’s first victory.

“It was pretty nerve racking,” Lockwood said. “He started spinning right there and (Cody) Lambert told me he was going to have some suck back and to stay back on my pockets just a little enough to have him set me up each jump. He got me really loose there the whole time and finally he blew me out of there but luckily my hand stayed in the tail of my rope.”

Lockwood earned 100 of his 745 world points with the round win and had earlier won Round 3 and another 100 world points with his 89.5-point ride on Alligator Arms.

He has won four rounds in three BFTS events.

The reigning Montana State High School bull riding champion finished the weekend 3-for-4 to win the event average for 500 world points and moved from 24th to 14th in the world standings. Lockwood has gained 965 world points in his first three BFTS events and trails Mauney by 914.17 points.

Davis finished in third place overall with 340 world points and is now ranked 12th in the world standings, 810 points behind Mauney.

Lockwood had ridden Mi Vida Loca for 86.75 points in Round 1 Friday night and 45 world points and was bucked off by Slick Rick in 7.98 seconds.

“It means the world to do it in my home state,” Lockwood said. “I am pretty excited, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Words can’t really describe it.”

Shephard sets career-high with 3-for-4 performance

Kurt Shephard had begun his BFTS career 1-for-8 and was on the verge of potentially losing his spot on the BFTS before the “Australian Shephard” used a career-best 87-point ride on Sheep Creek in the championship round to solidify his spot on the BFTS for the near future.

Shephard’s ride on Sheep Creek capped off his career-best 3-for-4 performance in Billings and also earned him third place in the round and 50 points.

“That ride in the short round really means a lot to me,” Shephard said. “To get him conquered, I feel great. I was trying until the very end.”

Shephard earned a total of 140 world points and a fourth-place finish in Billings. He goes from being ranked 36th in the world standings to 29th heading into next weekend’s Des Moines Invitational.

The 21-year-old from Atherton, Australia, had begun the weekend 2-for-2 before being bucked off by Big Kahuna in 3.44 seconds in Round 3. Shephard began Billings with an 85.25-point ride for seventh-place (five world points) on Set ‘em Up Joe in Round 1 and 83.25 points on Rock On in Round 2.

“Shoot, this helps a lot,” Shephard concluded. “It is exactly what I needed. It really should have been four bulls, but I will get it next week.”

Injury Updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Rubens Barbosa sprained his right ankle and bruised his right knee when was hung in the chute during the championship round when War Party nearly flipped over for the second week in a row. Barbosa is probable for Des Moines.

Last week, J.B. Mauney injured his left hip when War Party flipped over in Little Rock.

Silvano Alves (old rib sprain) and Gage Gay (sprained riding thumb) did not compete in the championship round.

Gay competed in Round 3 with a broken left little finger on his left hand (free arm).

Valdiron de Oliveira strained his right groin in Round 2 on Saturday night attempting to ride No Regrets.

Hayes gets much-needed round win; Davis in search of first regular-season win (4-17-16)

BILLINGS, Mont. – Here are three things we learned following Round 2 of the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational Saturday night at Rimrock Auto Arena.

Kasey Hayes has been receiving treatment on his right shoulder before every Built Ford Tough Series round ever since he separated it while being thrown by Cowtown Slinger in Anaheim, California, this past January.

Hayes has been attempting to fight through the pain in his free arm, but he has struggled mightily in his quest to make 8 seconds.

The 30-year-old finally broke out of his 2-for-22 slump since the injury by winning Round 2 with a season-high 89.5 points aboard Buckle Up.

“I have been fighting my head so much,” Hayes said. “Hell, I didn’t think I could ride a stick horse through water.”

It is Hayes’ second round win of 2016, but only his seventh qualified ride in 36 attempts. The Liberal, Kansas, bull rider earned 100 points toward the world standings and is now 25th in the world standings.

“Man, I know I am better than that,” Hayes said. “I think it is a combination of both. I am riding hurt and I am doubting myself, which is the worst thing you can do. I literally just got on that bull and was like don’t give up. Just do whatever it takes. I know in bull riding that is what you need to do.

“I have no excuses. I can’t really blame it on being hurt. I don’t think it is bad enough to affect my riding ability, but it is in my head. You have to get over your head or you are not going to be able to ride anything.”

2015 World Finals event winner Cooper Davis heads into Sunday’s final day of competition 2-for-2 and in position for his first career regular-season victory.

Davis finished second in Round 2 with an 87.5-point ride on Grey Ghost for 60 world points. The Jasper, Texas, bull rider is atop the event average (174.25), which awards one rider 500 world points.

“I am working on it,” Davis said. “I got two down. I really felt like this weekend coming in for some reason was going to be a good weekend. It has played out the way I hoped so far. I have been satisfied (with my season), but I want to be more consistent. I think this weekend we are going to change it around.”

Davis is one of three riders who have gone 2-for-2 in Billings. He will look to make it 3-for-3 when he takes on Gentleman Jim (9-6, BFTS) in Round 3.

Tanner Byrne finished fifth in Round 2 with an 86.25-point ride on Air Marshall for 30 world points and is second in the event average (169.5), while Kurt Shephard earned an 83.25-point ride on Rock On for his second ride of the weekend. Shephard was ninth in the round and is third in the event average (168.5).

19-year-old Derek Kolbaba picked up 50 points toward the world standings for finishing third in Round 2 after an 87-point sequence aboard I’m A Gangster Too.

Australian Lachlan Richardson turned in an 86-point ride on Wild Bob Cody to secure a sixth-place finish and 15 points in the world standings.

Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves rounded out the Top 7 after an 85.5-point ride on Cracker Jack. Alves picked up five points toward the world standings.

Lee makes history with 500th career ride

Mike Lee joined Guilherme Marchi as the only two riders with 500 qualified rides when he rode Tahonta’s Magic for 86.75 points and career ride 500 during Round 2.

“It means a lot to get that many at this level,” Lee said. “The bulls are so good. He was a really good bull. I got in time with him and he has a lot of kick. He is up and down and stays in it. He is a great bull.

Lee, who is not a fan of being in the spotlight, then added with a smirk, “Everybody can quit talking about it now.”

The 32-year-old finished fourth in Round 2 for 40 world points.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY

SweetPro’s Long John leads bull domination in 15/15 Bucking Battle

SweetPro’s Long John has lost 200 pounds since the beginning of the season and the 2015 World Champion Bull is evolving into an even stronger, leaner bucking machine.

Long John bucked off Gage Gay in 4.35 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle for his second consecutive 46-point bull score (46.5 points).

“It didn’t go as I planned, that is for sure,” Gay said. “Hell, I don’t know. I just kind of got my inside foot right around there and by the time I got it back down I was way too high on him and my free arm was too high. There was no chance.”

Dillon Page had a big grin on his face following the out. The D&H Cattle Company said before the event that he believed Long John was finally getting close to prime bucking shape. 

“I thought he was real, real good,” Page said. “He was strong, way in the air and he actually turned and looked like he was going to keep coming. (The loss of weight) is making him way more electric. We knew it all along, just getting him there was the hard part.”

Long John was marked a season-high 46.75 points in his last out against J.B. Mauney at the Ty Murray Invitational and he has now posted a bull score of 45 points or higher in four consecutive outs.

He is averaging 45.5 points in six outs in 2016.

Asteroid (5.12 seconds against Lachlan Richardson) and SweetPro’s Bruiser (3.26 seconds against Shane Proctor) tied for the second highest bull score of the 15/15 Bucking Battle with 45-point scores.

Saturday was the second time in PBR history that there were no qualified rides during a 15/15 Bucking Battle. It first occurred on September 21, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.

INJURY UPDATES

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Eduardo Aparecido did not take a re-ride in the 15/15 Bucking Battle after being struck in the chest by Big Cat’s horn during his ride, separating his left-sided ribs. He is questionable for Round 3.

Mason Lowe did not compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle because of a right groin (hip adductor) strain he sustained attempting to ride American Hustle in Round 2. Lowe was replaced by Stetson Lawrence, who was bucked off by Crossfire in 6.46 seconds.

Robson Palermo did not compete Saturday because of the concussion he sustained in Round 1 Friday night. He was replaced by Gay in the 15/15 Bucking Battle. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Montana kid in the mix in Billings (4-16-16)

BILLINGS, Mont. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational Friday night at Rimrock Auto Arena.

18-year-old Jess Lockwood had no jitters inside the bucking chute, all he had was a boat load of excitement and confidence.

The Volborg, Montana, bull rider channeled his emotions and converted them into an 86.75-point ride on Mi Vida Loca to finish Round 1 in third place and keep himself in the mix of winning his first career event.

“That is the coolest thing I ever had happen to me,” Lockwood said. “Ride a bull in my home state on the Built Ford Tough Series.”

The Billings crowd gave their home state kid a huge ovation when he was getting ready inside the bucking chute, the decibels in the arena were so loud they almost drowned out the 8-second buzzer.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Lockwood said. “I was so excited. I just wanted them to open the gate as soon as they could.”

Lockwood had about 30 friends and family in the stands supporting him Friday night, but he didn’t go to any special local restaurant for dinner before the event.

He kept things simple and went to Subway.

“I try to eat really healthy before I ride,” Lockwood said. “Six-inch club on honeyoat with chips and a drink. Mayonnaise, honey mustard, spinach, lettuce, jalapenos – all the goods.”

The ride was Lockwood’s third of his career and the first in which he didn’t win a round.

“Just to get my first one rode, I never have rode one on the first day,” Lockwood said. “I am setting myself up to do better in the average. You don’t shoot for the round wins, well you do obviously, but you want the average more than the round wins.”

Lockwood earned 45 points toward the world standings for splitting third and fourth place with Cooper Davis (86.75 points on The Hulk).

He has drawn Slick Rick (10-4, BFTS) in Round 2.

If Lockwood were to win the event average, that would help him gain 500 points toward the world standings. However, this weekend is much more about winning his first event, an event he grew up going to as a kid, than it is about world standing position.

“Words couldn’t describe it,” Lockwood said. “I would be so unbelievable happy. It would be the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

Lawrence wins Round 1; Lee bucks off in pursuit of 500th ride

Stetson Lawrence may not be a Montana native like Lockwood, but the 27-year-old is also a major fan favorite in Billings.

Lawrence grew up only five hours away in Trenton, North Dakota, and he too would love for his first career win to come in Billings.

He is off to a good start after his 88.5-point ride on Long Haired Outlaw to win Round 1.

“That was just a good ride,” Lawrence said. “I never gave up. That bull is usually right there to the left, but he was freaked out and went to the right. I cut him off and kept going to it.”

Lawrence has about 20 friends and family in attendance this weekend, including his dad, grandpa and brother.

Jay Miller placed second with an 87.25-point ride on Bobby Sox for 60 world points, while Lockwood split third with Davis.

Gage Gay finished in fifth place with an 86.25-point ride on Liquid Fire. He earned 30 points toward the world standings.

Eduardo Aparecido was one of only two riders ranked in the Top 10 of the world standings that were able to record a qualified ride on Friday night with world leader J.B. Mauney (hip/elbow) not competing in Billings.

Aparecido gained 15 points on Mauney with an 86-point ride and sixth-place finish on Must Be Nice.

Tanner Byrne was 10th in the round with 83.25 points on Chocolate Thunder

Mike Lee’s pursuit of career ride 500 was put on hold for another day after the 2004 World Champion and No. 9 ranked bull rider was bucked off by War Party in 2.22 seconds.

Lee will get another crack at 500 Saturday night in Round 2 when he takes on Tahonta’s Magic (14-9, BFTS). Lee rode Tahonta’s Magic for 85 points two years ago in Billings.

Alternate Kurt Shepard rounded out the Top 7 with an 85.25-point ride on Set ‘em up Joe. He earned five points toward the world standings and is now tied with Fraser Babbington and Juliano da Silva for 34th in the world standings.

Last year, Billings treated another North Dakota bull rider well as Nathan Schaper took home the event victory.

Lawrence hopes Billings is ready to help out another North Dakota native.

He has drawn Jailbreaker (7-0, BFTS) for Round 2.

“It would be special,” Lawrence said. “It would be awesome to take it back to North Dakota. Nathan (Schaper) did it last year. Hopefully I can do it this year.”

Miller cashes in with BlueDEF Tour invite makes major move in standings

Jay Miller is out to a prove point this weekend in Billings.

The 23-year-old wants to show everyone, himself included, that he is much more than just a here and there BFTS rider.

Miller, who began Round 1 50th in the world standings, took full advantage of his BlueDEF Tour invite he received for winning the Milwaukee BlueDEF Tour event last week by finishing second in Round 1 with a career-high 87.25-point ride on Bobby Sox.

I saw on ProBullStats Ryan Dirteater had been on him,” Miller said. “I asked him about it and he said he was a good bull right into the gate, but it didn’t really matter what bull I had today.”

The ride is Miller’s third of his career and Billings is his ninth BFTS.

Miller is 11-for-29 (37.93 percent) at all levels of PBR competition this season. He will take on Machinery Auctioneer’s Colonel (7-1, BFTS) on Saturday.

The Liberty, South Carolina, bull rider earned 60 points toward the world standings to rocket 11 positions in the world standings. Miller will begin Round 2 Saturday night 39th in the world and only 25 points behind the Top 35.

“Man, I felt like I should have been here a long time ago,” Miller said. “I have been to a few big ones. I am just now getting comfortable being here. I just want to prove I can ride with these guys. I have been off and on here over the last three years. I want to be here to stay.”

“It worked out good and I just need to come back tomorrow and do it again.”

Injury Updates

Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo had to be backboarded out of the arena and into sports medicine on Friday night following his 5.65-second buckoff against High Chaparral.

Palermo did not have to be transported to a local hospital and was up and about later in the evening. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Palermo sustained a concussion and is doubtful for Round 2.

Valdiron de Oliveira sprained his left knee (MCL) when he briefly hung his spur as he was thrown from Bottoms Up in 3.69 seconds. He is probable for Round 2.

There were 11 riders competing with injuries in Round 1: Justin Paton (sprained right riding hand/sprained left sternoclavicular joint/sprained right knee), Kasey Hayes (right shoulder separation of his free arm), Palermo (sore lower back and sprained left ankle), Stormy Wing (aggravation of an old sternal fracture), Derek Kolbaba (sprained left riding hand), Mason Lowe (torn cartilage in his left riding wrist), Wallace de Oliveira (right knee sprain), Rubens Barbosa (right SI sprain), Fabiano Vieira (right thigh bruise), Silvano Alves (bruised chest) and Guilherme Marchi (sore right knee). 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Open opportunity for riders to gain ground in Billings (4-13-16)

PUEBLO, Colo. – The door is open for any of the riders on the Built Ford Tough Series that want to get themselves back into the world title race.

With world leader J.B. Mauney sitting out the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational in Billings, Montana, this weekend, that means riders can try and close the gap on Mauney.

One rider can earn up to 900 potential points in Billings and the Top 12 riders in the world are separated by only 860 world points.

However, the easiest opportunity for a shift atop the world standings may come from the Top 5 riders in the standings – No. 2 Fabiano Vieira, No. 3 Paulo Lima, No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira and No. 5 Shane Proctor are within 350 world points of Mauney.

RELATED: Click HERE for Round 1 Billings draw

Not including round points, the winner of the event average can earn 500 world points, which could easily push any of the four riders ahead of Mauney.

No. 9 Mike Lee is only 755 points behind Mauney and will attempt on Friday night to join Guilherme Marchi as the only two riders with 500-plus rides in BFTS history.

Lee will attempt to get career ride 500 against War Cry (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1. War Cry is making his BFTS debut and is 6-0 at non-BFTS events. 

No. 13 Mason Lowe is only 950 points behind Mauney and is returning to competition after missing last week’s event in Little Rock, Arkansas, with strep throat.

Lowe has drawn Steamy Windows (0-0,BFTS) in Round 1. Steamy Windows was called for an infraction during his only BFTS out last year in Tucson, Arizona.

Lowe has a potential home-run matchup with Crossfire (23-1, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night. The event can be seen on CBS national television Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

“I’m feeling 90-plus,” Lowe said Wednesday.

No. 27 Aaron Roy is also returning this weekend after missing last week because of a right thumb sprain (riding hand). Roy has a Round 1 meeting against Whiskey Bent (0-0, BFTS).

“It’s feeling good,” Roy said. “I can move it without hurting.”

Injuries remain relatively at a minimum this week with only Ben Jones (left shoulder), Cody Heffernan (visa issues) and J.W. Harris (elbow surgery) being the other Top 35 riders with Mauney out for this weekend.

The four riders have been replaced by No. 36 Kurt Shephard, No. 37 Reese Cates, No. 38 Jorge Valdiviezo and No. 39 Douglas Duncan.

Shephard is only five points out of the Top 35, while Duncan is only 30 points off the pace.

Shephard has a Round 1 matchup against Set ‘em Up Joe (16-5, BFTS). Set ‘em Up Joe bucked off Valdiviezo in 7.55 seconds last week. In fact, three of the bull’s buckoffs have come between 7 and 8 seconds this season.

Duncan has drawn Little Louie (0-0, BFTS). Matt Werries rode Little Louie for 85 points at the Portland, Oregon, BlueDEF Tour event.

Valdiviezo gets a shot against Wipeout (6-1, BFTS). Lee won the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Sioux Falls two weeks ago with an 89.25-point ride on Wipeout. Valdiviezo has bucked off four straight, but all have come past 5.03 seconds.

Cates has drawn Devil in Disguise (1-1, BFTS). Devil in Disguise hasn’t bucked on the BFTS since September 2014, but Corey Granger recently rode him for 89 points in Portland.

Jay Miller is ranked 50th in the world standings, but is set to make his BFTS season debut courtesy of his 2-for-2 victory at the Milwaukee BlueDEF Tour event last week. Miller, who is 1-for-13 in eight career events, has drawn Bobby Sox (0-1, BFTS). Ryan Dirteater rode Bobby Sox for 85 points in Sioux Falls.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lee one more ride away from joining 500 club (4-10-16)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Here are three things we learned from the Bad Boy Mowdown at Verizon Arena this weekend.

With an entire arena and locker room cheering him on, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee will have to wait at least one more weekend before becoming the second rider in PBR history to notch 500 rides on the Built Ford Tough Series.

Lee was bucked off by Who Dey in 2.64 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round after previously riding Rojo for 83.75 points in Round 2 earlier in the day for the 499th ride of his career.

“Oh, that bull was good,” Lee said, grinning as he walked to the locker room after bucking off Who Dey.

Lee admitted he rather not have all of the spotlight on him.

All weekend fellow riders, such as Cody Nance and Guilherme Marchi, have been cheering him on in the locker room saying his 500th ride is coming up next.

Marchi (557) is currently the only rider to have reached 500 qualified rides.

“I am pretty sure all of my buddies and everyone knows I hate attention and it is like they just feed into it,” Lee said. “It is like they are trying to make me more nervous about it. I don’t like attention much.”

The Decatur, Texas, bull rider’s 83.75-point ride on Rojo placed him fourth in Round 2 for 40 world points.

“That was a good ride,” Lee said. “I felt good. That bull felt real hard and tight. I felt everything. I saw the bullfighters. It was one of the few rides that sticks out in the memory I guess.”

Lee finished 2-for-3 in Little Rock for 250 world points and third place. It is the second consecutive Top-3 finish for Lee. Two weeks ago, Lee was 16th in the world standings and 1,190 points behind world leader J.B. Mauney. He is now ranked ninth in the world and only 755 points behind Mauney.

Lee will have at least four opportunities, and possibly five, to hit the 500 mark in Billings, Montana, next weekend at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational.

Dirteater wins second event of 2016 in 10th showdown with I’m A Gangster Too

It took Ryan Dirteater five years to win his third career BFTS event earlier this year. It has since taken him less than five events to win his fourth.

Dirteater capped off his 3-for-3 weekend with an 86.5-point ride on I’m A Gangster Too in the championship round to earn his second win of 2016 with 560 world points.

The 26-year-old selected the bull with the first pick of the championship round draft.

“He is really up and down and there is no telling what he will do,” Dirteater said. “You just have to ride him jump for jump.”

It was the 10th meeting between the two and Sunday became just the third time Dirteater has successfully ridden Jeff Robinson’s bovine athlete.

“It was between him and Who Dey and Dad had chosen Who Dey, and I got to thinking about it and I was like, ‘That bull is really fast, quick and would be away from my hand.’ I kind of like the ones that are kind of out of line. Who Dey had some suck back and stuff like that, but I knew I’m A Gangster and I had to do my job.”

Dirteater won his first event this season four events ago at the Ak-Chin Invitational in Phoenix. His last win prior to Phoenix was in Wichita, Kansas, in September 2011.

“It is pretty weird. It took me five years to do this,” Dirteater said. “It is a great feeling. It worked out. I feel like everything is going the way I want it to. I just need to keep it rolling.”

The Hulbert, Oklahoma, bull rider put himself in position to select I’m a Gangster Too after moving into the lead in Little Rock with his 85.75-point ride on Backfire in Round 2. Dirteater earned 55 of his 560 winning points with his Round 2 ride.

He had earned five points in Round 1 Saturday with a seventh-place finish thanks to his 84-point ride on #01. Dirteater’s ride on I’m A Gangster Too won him the championship round and 100 world points. He also earned 400 points for winning the event average.

Dirteater heads into Billings eighth in the world standings and 727.5 points away from the world No. 1 ranking.

Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves was the only other ride to be perfect in Little Rock, using a 72.5-point ride on El Guerro to finish the weekend 3-for-3 and in second place with 315 world points.

It was Alves’ first event with two or more rides since the second event of the year in New York.

Alves moves from 33rd to 22nd in the world standings.

Wallace de Oliveira finished fourth in the event with 205 world points and Tanner Byrne rounded out the Top 5 with 125 points.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours

18-year-old rookie Jess Lockwood gave Shoot Out The Lights some special loving before Round 2, and the bovine athlete returned the favor later Sunday afternoon.

Lockwood was standing on the back of the bucking chutes when Shoot Out The Lights turned around in his pen and looked at the latest newcomer on the BFTS.

In an act of kindness, or maybe it was a bribe, Lockwood began scratching Shoot Out The Lights’ back.

“You know it is a good draw when they let you pet them like that,” Lockwood said. “I was looking for him in the back pens here and I found him right up front. I was looking at him and he walked right up to the fence and turned his back to me and wanted me to scratch him. I started scratching him and we got along good after that.”

It was more than good enough as Lockwood and Shoot Out The Lights teamed up for the highest scored ride in Round 2 (86 points). Lockwood has now earned BFTS round wins in back-to-back weeks after making his debut last weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“He was good,” Lockwood said. “He kind of hung his horn when I nodded for him and it kind of stalled him up at first and I think that is what made him go two or three and turned back to the left there. I mean that is into my hand, so you can’t complain there.”

There were seven qualified rides in Round 2.

Dirteater split second place with Cooper Davis after Davis rode Say I Won’t Playboy for 85.75 points.

Davis was bucked off by Pearl Harbor in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round and the Jasper, Texas, bull rider was not happy about being put on the clock in the chute.

“The whole putting people on the clock thing is getting out of hand,” Davis said. “When you are getting on something like Pearl Harbor you don’t want him to be leaning against the chute or squatting. You want him to be standing right. I thought I could have fared pretty well, if I could have got on him like I needed to. I wasn’t even in the position I wanted to nod in, but when that judge is there saying he is going to put you on the clock  and you have 30 seconds it may go south from there. He is pretty hair triggered. It is frustrating. It wasn’t the way I wanted to nod for him.”

Pearl Harbor was marked an event-best 45.5 points for his 1.75 seconds of work.

Lee finished fourth in Round 2, while Fabiano Vieira (83 points on Cajun Blood), Silvano Alves (82.5 points on Young Troubador) and Josh Faircloth (81 points on Sam) finished fifth through seventh.

Vieira didn’t compete in the championship round because of a bruised right thigh, but he earned earned 30 points toward the world standings with his ride and 35 total to cut Mauney’s world lead to 208.01 points.

Alves picked up 15 points toward the world standings and Faircloth picked up five for their Round 2 showings.

INJURY UPDATES

World leader J.B. Mauney was unable to finish the event in Little Rock after sustaining a left hip pointer (badly bruised pelvis) during Round 2 when War Party flipped over inside the bucking chute and hit Mauney with his horn.

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Mauney, who was in sports medicine in good spirits with ice on his left hip, is questionable for Billings.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lee two rides away from history (4-9-16)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Bad Boy Mowdown on Saturday night at Verizon Arena.

Mike Lee continued his march toward the 500 club by riding Black Cat for 85.5 points and a fifth-place finish in Round 1.

The ride was the 498th of Lee’s career, which puts him just two away from becoming the second rider in PBR history to record 500 qualified rides on the Built Ford Tough Series. 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi (557) is the only rider to have reached the prestigious mark.

“That bull is built real weird,” Lee said. “When I first pulled it, my rope slid all the way to about halfway down his back. That is not good. A lot of these bulls when they are young, it is really hard to keep your rope on. I don’t know why.”

None of it mattered though as Lee was able to withstand Black Cat trying to jump out of the chute before he nodded for the gate and is now one step closer to history.

“I mean, I guess that just makes me old being around a long time,” said Lee, laughing. “But, some people think it is cool.”

Lee finished fifth in the round for 30 world points. He has ridden four of his last six bulls attempted.

He will attempt to get career ride 499 on Sunday against Rojo (0-0, BFTS). Rojo is making his BFTS debut after going 10-1 at Touring Pro Division events in Texas. If Lee qualifies for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, he will possibly notch ride No. 500.

Oliveira wins fifth round of 2016

36-year-old rookie Wallace de Oliveira is back at it when it comes to winning BFTS rounds.

Oliveira won Round 1 with an 88.5-point beauty on Sketchy Bob to earn 100 points toward the world standings.

It was payback for Oliveira after Sketchy Bob had previously bucked him off in 3.87 seconds last year at a Touring Pro Division event in Las Vegas.

“He bucked me off in Vegas and I have seen a couple guys get on him,” Oliveira said. “He is a really good bull. When the bull started bucking, he changed a little bit of direction and I moved my leg. I went to my rope and I didn’t quit.”

Oliveira moved up to sixth in the world standings and gained 100 points on world leader J.B. Mauney. He trails Mauney by 695 points.

“No, I didn’t think about that,” Oliveira said. “If you think too much it won’t work out. I just think about getting on one bull at a time.”

Mauney finished 12th in the round with 75 points on Rebel Yell III. He turned down his re-ride option.

Oliveira is competing with a torn MCL in his right knee after sustaining the injury in Sioux Falls last week.

“I am a little sore,” Oliveira said. “I am wearing a brace. It is OK.”

Tanner Byrne returned to competition after skipping the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, event last week because of a pulled groin and showed no signs of rust in Little Rock.

Byrne placed second in the round with an 87.75-point effort on Roll of the Dice. Byrne moved from ninth to seventh in the world standings with the 60 world points he earned.

“I had seen some videos of him,” Byrne said. “Kaique had rode him earlier this year and that was exactly what he did right there. I figured he was one I could ride all day and I am glad I could back up my word and ride him. It felt good and I feel healthy. At this time of year, that is a big part of it.”

Gage Gay placed third with an 87.5-point ride on Glory Days for 50 world points, while Derek Kolbaba attempted to keep pace with Oliveira in the Rookie of the Year race by earning 40 world points with a fourth-place finish (86.6 points on Whiskey Trip).

“I knew what that bull was going to do,” Gay said. “I had seen him with Guilherme (Marchi) in Albuquerque and heard he had been bucking harder than he did with Guilherme so I was excited coming into it. It was just what I wanted. He felt like he was going to go back left the whole time. He never really felt like he was committed. I think it was just because he was so close to them bucking chutes.”

Douglas Duncan finished in sixth place after an 84.75-point ride on Not Today. He earned a highly important 15 points in the world standings. Duncan was a last minute alternate for the event and arrived 41st in the world standings. The 15 points moved him to 40th and within 40 points of the Top 35.

Ryan Dirteater rounded out the Top 7 with his 84-point ride on #01. He earned five world points.

Gay to get surgery during summer break

Gage Gay revealed following his 87.5-point ride that he will indeed undergo hip surgery this summer following Last Cowboy Standing in May.

Gay came to the conclusion after Dr. Tandy Freeman reviewed an MRI of his left hip earlier in the day. Gay believes he will miss about four months, but should be able to return to competition in September and make a push to qualify for the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-5.

“I should be able to make it back for about five events and the Finals,” Gay said.

It is a tough decision, especially with Gay, who is ranked 18th in the world standings, having placed fourth or higher in a BFTS round with his last eight qualified rides.

Gay said he hasn’t been trying to dress up a ride for a higher score or round placement.

“Well, it is not something I do on purpose, but it seems like I show them up a little more when I do ride them,” Gay said. “I think just the way I ride, it either ain’t good at all or I get really good scores. There ain’t no in between.”

INJURY UPDATES

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Matt Triplett will be out for six months after undergoing reconstructive left shoulder surgery on Wednesday in Dallas.

Ben Jones is also expected to miss six months once he undergoes left shoulder surgery as well this coming week. Jones dislocated his shoulder in Sioux Falls, and also sustained a “massive” rotator cuff tear, attempting to ride Swashbuckler.

There were 10 riders competing with injuries in Round 1:  Paulo Lima (rib sprain), Justin Paton (sprained right riding hand/sprained left sternoclavicular joint/sprained right knee), Kasey Hayes (right shoulder separation of his free arm), Robson Palermo (sore lower back and sprained left ankle), Stormy Wing (aggravation of an old sternal fracture), Derek Kolbaba (sprained left riding hand), Wallace de Oliveira (grade 3 right knee sprain), Rubens Barbosa (right SI sprain), Fabiano Vieira (bruised right thigh and Silvano Alves (bruised chest).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Byrne resting up; Little Rock draw notes. (4-6-16)

PUEBLO, Colo. – No longer a wide-eyed rookie, Tanner Byrne understands the Built Ford Tough Series is a marathon and not a sprint.

Therefore, Byrne decided to opt out of the event because of a sore shoulder and pulled groin with him not feeling 100 percent last week heading into the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, BFTS event,

The No. 9 ranked bull rider in the world standings is now well-rested and ready to return to competition at this weekend’s Bad Boy Mowdown in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“I’m feeling good,” Byrne said. “I am going to get on a practice bull and am good to go for this weekend. You got to take care of a guy’s body or it’ll give out.”

Byrne could afford to take a week off courtesy of his two BFTS victories (Duluth, Georgia, and Anaheim, California).

The 23-year-old is only 827.5 points behind world leader J.B. Mauney, and Byrne has drawn Roll of the Dice (0-2, BFTS) for Round 1 on Saturday.

RELATED: Check out the full draw for Round 1

“I just mostly didn’t want to totally wreck myself last weekend,” Byrne said. “I just iced (the injuries) and did some strength training.”

Mauney has drawn Rebel Yell II (2-1, BFTS).

2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi is also returning to competition in Little Rock after missing last week to rest his injured right knee.

Marchi will face Voo Doo Too (2-0, BFTS) in Round 1.

There are three alternate riders competing in Little Rock with No. 25 Aaron Roy (sprained right riding thumb), No. 26 Cody Heffernan (visa issues) and No. 30 J.W. Harris (elbow surgery) unable to compete.

Roy aggravated his old injury attempting to ride Necessary Roughness in Round 2 in Sioux Falls.

“I’m giving it some time to get the swelling out and I had X-rays this morning to see what the deal with it is,” Roy said.

Roy was still awaiting results from his X-rays as of Wednesday evening.

Alexandre Cardozo (left ankle) is not competing in Little Rock and is also awaiting to see results from X-rays taken of his injured ankle. Cardozo was stepped on by Beer Nuts in Sioux Falls.

Matt Triplett (left shoulder) is also unable to compete and, according to the PBR competition department, is out indefinitely.

Cardozo and Triplett are not replaced in the draw because they are currently ranked outside of the Top 35.

Roy, Heffernan and Harris have been replaced by No. 36 Kurt Shephard, No. 37 Reese Cates and No. 38 Jorge Valdiviezo.

Shephard, Cates and Valdivizeo are within close striking distance of cracking the Top 35 of the world standings and earning a spot on the BFTS.

Shephard, who is taking on Acting Crazy (2-0, BFTS) in Round 1, trails No. 34 Fraser Babbington and No. 34 Juliano da Silva by five points.

Acting Crazy bucked off Shephard in 3.78 seconds at the January Touring Pro Division event in Wichita, Kansas.

Cates is only 10 points behind the Top 35, while Valdiviezo is 15 points back.

Cates, who is from El Dorado, Arkansas, will square off against Wicked Stick (4-2, BFTS) and Valdiviezo will look for 8 seconds aboard Wagon Wheel (13-4, BFTS).

Tyler Harr (Hazen, Arkansas) is also competing in his home state after winning the BlueDEF Tour event in Fresno, California. Harr earned 80 points in the world standings to jump from 40th to 32nd in the world standings with the victory.

Harr has struggled to find any momentum on the BFTS this season and is 1-for-17 in eight events. He will look to turn things around when he takes on Little Tim’s All Nighter (4-1, BFTS).

Mike Lee (497 BFTS rides) will continue his pursuit of 500 career rides when he is challenged by Black Cat (0-0, BFTS) Saturday.

Lee could reach the milestone if he goes 3-for-3 this weekend.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Lee within three rides of joining 500 club (4-3-16)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Here are three things we learned from First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational this weekend.

Mike Lee ripped off his helmet, whirled himself around and gave a caveman roar toward the 8,388 fans inside the Denny Sanford Premier Center on Sunday afternoon.

The 2004 World Champion then took off on his routine sprint around the dirt and began pounding his fists onto his helmet before head-butting his helmet for good measure.

Lee had just ridden Wipeout for 89.25 points during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round for career ride 497 on the Built Ford Tough Series.

The 32-year-old’s excitement was not about getting any closer toward joining 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi as the only riders with 500 career rides, but for just getting another championship-round bull conquered.

“That is a wild sucker,” Lee said as blood began to trickle down his hand. “He is kind of scary. He is a good bull. I was really happy.”

Lee’s ride was the best of the championship round and he earned 100 points toward the world standings. The Decatur, Texas, bull rider finished 3-for-4 in Sioux Falls and second-place overall with 385 world points.

Lee earned 240 points for finishing second in the event average, as well as 30 points for his 85.5-point ride on Vegas Outlaw that placed him fifth in Round 2 and 15 points for a sixth-place finish in Round 1 with a 79.75-point ride on The Hulk.

Lee moved from 16th in the world standings to 12th.

“Man, Mike Lee had a big weekend,” said two-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Justin McBride. “It is weird. Like, Mike White won Albuquerque three times. Certain places guys ride good. Mike Lee won this event last year and comes back this year and finishes second. There is something about Sioux Falls and he rides really good in.”

Lee said he felt going to two Touring Pro Division events last weekend during the Easter BFTS break helped him prepare for Sioux Falls.

“To tell you the truth, I got to go to a couple of Touring Pros,” Lee said. “I don’t know. I just relax more over there when I go to Touring Pros.”

Pacheco wins first event of 2016

Kaique Pacheco admits 2016 has been a slow start for him, but the 2015 Rookie of the Year sensation is right back on track following a 4-for-4 victory in Sioux Falls.

Pacheco rode Legal Tender for 88.25 points in the championship round before watching Eduardo Aparecido and Fabiano Vieira buck off to seal his first victory of 2016.

“I knew he was a good bull and hard to ride because he wants you to the front,” Pacheco said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “I saw him a couple of times and thought he would fit me good. He pulled to the front, but I rode loose a little bit and I didn’t go to the front. I stayed toward the back.”

This weekend is Pacheco’s first victory since winning last year’s BFTS event in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the 565 points he earned toward the world standings moves last year’s runner-up to World Champion J.B. Mauney from 14th in the world standings to eighth.

Ryan Dirteater (87.5 points on Pound The Alarm) was the only other rider to have successfully covered his bull in the championship round and he finished fifth overall with 115 points. The 26-year-old earned 65 world points for finishing fifth in the event average (3-for-4), 50 points in the championship round for third place and 40 points for his fourth-place finish in Round 1 (85 points on Bobby Sox).  

Fabiano Vieira (3-for-4) finished in third place with 285 points toward the standings, while Gage Gay placed fourth (2-for-4, 185 world points).

Lockwood uses first career ride to win Round 3

18-year-old rookie Jess Lockwood used the first qualified ride of his BlueDEF Tour career in October to win Round 1 of the L.J. Jenkins Invitational in Clovis, New Mexico, and now the first ride of his BFTS career was also good enough for a round win.

Lockwood rode Tom Horn for 88.25 points to win Round 3 and an important 100 points toward the world standings.

“He came right out of there and wrapped it up to the left and the whole time he had me scratching and clawing. I was fighting my way to get through there. I knew he was going to go back the other way at some point and he ended up going right back at the whistle and I stepped off on my feet and it was the coolest thing ever.”

Cooper Davis placed second in the round with an 88-point ride on Catfish John for 60 world points, while Stetson Lawrence picked up third place and 50 world points with an 87-point ride on Lieutenant Dan.

World leader J.B. Mauney, fresh off his third consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle victory on Saturday night, finished fourth in the round with an 85.75-point ride aboard Hard Times. Mauney earned 40 world points for the round finish and 10 points for finishing ninth in the event average.

Mauney leads No. 2 Fabiano Vieira, who finished seventh in Round 3 for five world points with an 82.5-point ride on War Tank, by 243.01 points in the world standings.

Joao Ricardo Vieira, fourth in the world standings and 340 points behind Mauney, finished fifth in Round 3 with an 85.25-point ride on Shake It Up for 30 world points.

Nevada Newman ended a streak of five consecutive buckoffs with 85 points on Knot Head for sixth place and 15 world points.

Lockwood was bucked off by Dakota Storm in 4.12 seconds in Round 1 and El Nino in 4.46 seconds in Round 2.

“I wish I could have done it on the two previous, but winning the round on my third one and the first one I rode on the Built Ford Tough makes you feel pretty good,” he said.

He later was bucked off by Sheep Creek (4.7 seconds) in the championship round after he was awarded a re-ride because the gate man opened the gate before Lockwood had nodded.

“No excuse, I didn’t draw the best bulls, but like Cody (Lambert) and Justin (McBride) have taught me, you need to cowboy up and ride everything you do get on,” Lockwood said. “That is their goal to buck you off, so you better do whatever it takes to not let them buck you off.” 

The round victory also helped Lockwood finish 10th in the event average for an additional five world points.

The 105 total world points helps solidify his spot on the BFTS. Lockwood is now 23rd in the world standings heading into next weekend’s Bad Boy Mowdown in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“Lockwood, he has all the ability and talent in the world, but he is still a little kid,” McBride said. “I forget just how young he is, but I thought he did good. A couple of them bucked him off and he came back and showed today he belongs here. He made a really, really good ride to win the round and made the championship round in his first event.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Air Time continues quick work of victims; Wicked also shines (4-2-16)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Here are three things we learned from Round 2 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational on Saturday night.

Jared Allen’s Air Time may not have been able to outdo Pearl Harbor (46.25 points), during Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle, but the 2016 World Champion Bull contender once again made quick, dominant work of an opposing challenger.

Air Time toppled Mike Lee in a brief 2.06 seconds and was marked 45.75 points to tie with Wicked for the second-highest bull score of the evening.

It was the 10th time in his career that Air Time has dumped a rider in less than 3 seconds. He has dominated all four of his opponents this season in under 3 seconds.

Air Time wasn’t as calm inside the bucking chute Saturday as he has been for most of the season, but Lee remained composed despite being thrashed about a few times.

Once he nodded for the gate, Air Time did a good job of not hipping himself even though his first jump came extra close to the bucking chutes.

“I like him,” Lee said. “He is alright. I didn’t feel too bad. He did get my head down a little bit. He is not as bad as I thought he was. He was pretty touchy in the chute. I don’t know why they put me on the clock. I would like them to try doing it. That bull can rip your head off in the chute, I was just trying to be soft and kind to him so I don’t piss him off.”

Wicked used agility, speed and a dynamic fading action to buckoff Cooper Davis in 2.02 seconds for a career-high 45.75 points. 

“Every other time I had been on him, he kind of hit the front of the chute today and I don’t want to blame it on that, but I definitely thought he was stronger today,” Davis said. “When he hit the front of the chute there and got me sitting on my butt, he left and really sucked back. You really get behind from the get go, and he has that much suck back to him that all it is going to do is pull your feet over your head.”

PBR Director of Livestock said he believed Wicked was the best bull of the 15/15 Bucking Battle, even ahead of Pearl Harbor.

“The rankest bull out tonight was Wicked,” Lambert said. “He has bucked like that before, but in my opinion I had him 47. I had Magic Train 46, Pearl Harbor 46.”

Lee concluded he would love for a rematch with Air Time.

“That bull is good. He is rideable,” Lee said. “I would love to try again.”

Mauney makes magic with Pearl Harbor

Remember that time J.B. Mauney had numbness in his riding hand because of nerve damage in his left elbow on Friday night?

Yeah, the same injury that prevented Mauney from attempting to ride Speed Dial in Round 1?

Well that wasn’t going to slow down the two-time World Champion for a second night in a row.

Mauney gritted his way to a third consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle victory with an emphatic and highlight reel-making 94.25-point ride on Pearl Harbor.

It is Mauney’s 68th career 90-point ride and his highest-scored ride since conquering three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker for 95.25 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the 2013 BFTS event.

“I knew that bull was going to buck,” Mauney said. “I knew I had a chance if I rode him to be over 90. I didn’t know it was going to quite be 94. I didn’t hear the whistle. The crowd was so loud. I hit the ground and I was looking up at the clock and it said 8. That is when I knew I did my job.”

Mauney earned 150 points toward the world standings and now leads No. 2 Paulo Lima, who did not compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle because of a knee injury, by 265 points.

Mason Lowe finished second in 15/15 Bucking Battle after an 89.25-point ride on Little Red Jacket, earning 90 points in the world standings.

“The whole time my rope was coming out of my hand,” Lowe said. “I was down to two fingers. That is why I flew so high when I came off the bull. Coming out of there I was just thinking stay to the outside because he gets people kind of welled. I rode to that outside horn and kind of evened out.”

Robson Palermo placed third for 75 world points with an 85.5-point ride on Big Tex Walk Off.

Pearl Harbor also helped his case in the World Champion Bull race by posting a career-high 46.25 points.

“He is right up there in contention with the rest of them,” Mauney said. “He doesn’t really have a set pattern. The other week when Silvano (Alves) got on him, he turned back to the right and stayed to the right. You don’t know what he is going to do and he started right and went back around to the left.”

Mauney, who rode Unwound for 70.25 points in Round 2 and turned down his re-ride option, ditched his elbow brace on Saturday and relied on a solid tape job by the PBR sports medicine team after consulting with Dr. Tandy Freeman.

The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider said he expects to ride in Round 3.

“Yeah, the arm hurts,” Mauney said. “That bull got me stretched back when he went back to the left. When I am riding it don’t really hurt, but as soon as I hit the ground I knew it hurt. I feel it pretty good.”

Gay/Oliveira split Round 2 victory

Gage Gay will head into the final day of the First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational in prime position for his first event win of 2016.

Gay split the Round 2 victory with Valdiron de Oliveira by riding Chantilly Lace for 87.25 points, making him a perfect 2-for-2 on the weekend courtesy of his 86-point ride on Wild Bob Cody.

“Two down, two more to go,” Gay said. “It was just a good one. I had seen my buddy Michael (Lane) ride him in Bismarck (North Dakota) last year, so I knew what he was going to do. He just felt good blowing up underneath me him. I don’t feel like I could have bucked off him.”

The 21-year-old heads into his Round 3 matchup against Handle Bars (0-0, BFTS) leading the event average, which awards 500 world points to the winner.

Gay is one of five riders to have ridden their first two bulls in Sioux Falls.

Fabiano Vieira followed up his Round 1 win with an 81.25-point ride on Off The Rez and is sitting second in the event average, while Mike Lee (85.5 points on Vegas Outlaw), Eduardo Aparecido (83.25 points on Soldier’s Pride) and Kaique Pacheco (82 points on Hillbilly Music) round out the Top 5 in the event average.

Lee, who now has 496 qualified rides on the BFTS, was the only ride of the group with two qualified rides other than Gay to earn round points in the second round. The 2004 World Champion placed fifth for 30 world points.

Oliveira was excited to not only make the 8-second mark for the first time in 11 attempts, but to also practice some pushups with PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen in the arena.

“Yeah, buddy!” Oliveira exclaimed. “I told Flint, ‘I miss you. We haven’t done pushups.’ I had been frustrated.”

Oliveira and Gay earned 80 points toward the world standings.

Oliveira, who celebrates a qualified ride with pushups, then added he wanted to thank five-time Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger.

“I want to thank Chad Berger because he told me yesterday, ‘I know what you need to do. Your head is not calm. You need to get on your bull like a practice bull. Don’t look at the people here or the ground. Just calm. Just calm. You can do everything when you are calm. Do not put pressure on yourself.’

“That is what I did. It worked.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Mauney questionable for Round 2 in Sioux Falls (4-1-16)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational on Friday night.

World leader J.B. Mauney was unable to attempt his first-round bull after Speed Dial forcefully jerked the defending World Champion forward inside the bucking chute.

Mauney immediately grimaced in pain and hopped out of the chutes, before crouching down and grabbing at his left elbow (riding arm). The 29-year-old then walked off the chutes and back to sports medicine after he began to lose feeling in his hand.

Dr. Tandy Freeman said after the event Mauney sprained his left elbow and is questionable for Saturday night’s second round, as well as the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Mauney was wearing his elbow brace during Round 1, something he has begun wearing more frequently this season as he continues to contend with a chronic elbow injury.

“Questionable. He sprained his left elbow and we will have to see how he looks tomorrow,” Freeman said. “His elbow is a chronic issue. He just aggravated a pre-existing injury. He had a little – we call it neurapraxia. Basically his funny bone, but it is a nerve, not a bone. It looks like he stretched it and it made his hand go numb. That nerve controls the main part of your grip so when it got pinched or stretched he lost his grip and had numbness in his hand. He couldn’t hold on to his bull rope.”

Mauney stayed in sports medicine with ice wrapped on the elbow, as well as another bag of ice on his left shoulder after the event. He eventually was able to wiggle his fingers as the numbness began to taper off.

The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider currently leads No. 2 Paulo Lima, who lost his bull rope at 7.46 seconds on IROC, by 115 points in the world standings.

Fabiano Vieira wins Round 1 to move back into Top-5 of world standings

Fabiano Vieira admitted he was a little bit tight when he sat down aboard Catfish John on Friday night. The 33-year-old tried to ignore the fact that Catfish John spun right two weeks ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which would be away from his hand, and that the bull had also bucked him off in January in Anaheim, California.

Vieira let out a deep breath, nodded for the gate and then let his natural instincts take over as he made 8 seconds of sweet revenge on Catfish John for a Round 1 winning 87.75 points.

“He was supposed to buck me off today, but I had good concentration to not buck off,” Vieira said. “In Albuquerque, the bull spun right and he bucked me off (in Anaheim). It made me feel a little tight about riding. I had to forget. I just concentrated to stay on the side of the spin.”

Vieira earned 100 points toward the world standings and the No. 5 ranked bull rider trails Mauney by 228.01 points.

There were a total of eight qualified rides in Round 1, which saw some significant buckoff streaks come to an end.

Gage Gay placed second with an 86-point effort on Wild Bob Cody and ended his streak of five consecutive buckoffs. It was just his second ride in 11 outs. Gay earned 60 world points to move to 19th in the world standings.

“That was a good one,” Gay said. “I really didn’t know anything about him coming in. I just knew he was going to go both ways and not which way first or anything. It seemed to work out. I may have to keep doing that.”

Robson Palermo ended his own streak of six consecutive buckoffs with an 85.5-point ride on Highwood Squirrel for third place and 50 world points.

Ryan Dirteater (five consecutive buckoffs) notched 40 world points with his 85-point ride on Bobby Sox, while Eduardo Aparecido has ridden three in a row after covering Black Ice for 80.25 points. Aparecido finished in fifth place for 30 world points.

Vieira believes he has a favorable draw for Round 2 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle despite the fact that neither of his bulls have been ridden on the BFTS.

The Perola, Brazil, bull rider will face Off the Rez (4-0, BFTS) in Round 2 before taking on Seven Dust (8-0, BFTS).

“I knew I had a good bull today, a good one tomorrow and a good one in the 15/15,” he concluded. “I have two of the best bulls for tomorrow. I think Seven Dust has only been ridden once at the Calgary Stampede (Stetson Lawrence 89.5 points). He will be in the left bucking chute, but may spin right.

“Maybe God will help me and he will come left. That would be good.”

Lee closing in on career ride 500

Even Mike Lee knew it wasn’t a pretty one, but the 2004 World Champion has made a 15-year career out of not only raw talent, but also gritty toughness.

Not all of his now 495 career rides were works of beauty, but he was more than happy to start off his weekend in Sioux Falls with 79.75 points on The Hulk.

“That bull felt really good,” Lee said. “I thought he went both ways, but I can’t remember exactly. I was only 79, which is a low score, but I am trying to get four of them maybe. I still believe I can do it.”

The ride puts him five away from joining 2008 Guilherme Marchi as the only two riders to have ridden 500 bulls on the Built Ford Tough Series.

“I think it is getting harder,” Lee said. “The bulls are getting ranker. I don’t even know if I really want my boy to ride bulls because if the bulls are this rank now, I kind of hate to see what he will have to get on.”

Lee – the defending event champion in Sioux Falls – earned 15 points toward the world standings for finishing sixth in Round 1.

He is slated to face Vegas Outlaw (6-1, BFTS) in Round 2 before taking on Jared Allen’s Air Time (20-1, BFTS) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

INJURY UPDATES

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, seven riders were competing with injuries in Round 1: Paulo Lima (rib sprain), Justin Paton (sprained right riding hand/sprained left sternoclavicular joint/sprained right knee), Kasey Hayes (right shoulder separation of his free arm), Robson Palermo (sore lower back and sprained left ankle), Stormy Wing (aggravation of an old sternal fracture), Derek Kolbaba (sprained left riding hand) and Mason Lowe (torn cartilage in his left riding wrist).

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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