PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney is almost right where he wants to be now that the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series is over halfway complete.
Mauney used three 15/15 Bucking Battle victories – including the first of his career -- and another seven BFTS round wins to put himself second in the world standings at the conclusion of the BFTS first half.
The 29-year-old trails current world leader Kaique Pacheco by 132.83 points.
Today, PBR.com takes a look back at the defending World Champion’s Top-5 rides of the first half.
Mauney rides Pearl Harbor for 94.25 points in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
In what is arguably the most impressive ride in the PBR in the last three seasons, Mauney wrote a legendary tale in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this past April.
A night after being unable to attempt Speed Dial in Round 1 because of numbness in his riding hand due to nerve damage in his left elbow, Mauney somehow found the strength to ride one of this year’s 2016 World Champion Bull contender’s during the bovine’s best out of his career.
Mauney rode Pearl Harbor for an emphatic 94.25 points to earn his third consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle victory.
It was 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,” said Mauney, who had turned down a re-ride option after riding Unwound for 70.75 points earlier in the night. “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 had immediately grimaced in pain the night before and hopped out of the chutes, before crouching down and grabbing at his left elbow (riding arm) after Speed Dial had jerked him forward inside the chutes. He then walked back to sports medicine after he began to lose feeling in his hand.
It wasn’t an issue of pain for Mauney, but rather that his hand had literally frozen up on him. It took 10 minutes for Mauney to finally regain some sort feeling in his hand.
Which made the ride that much more stunning.
Pearl Harbor was marked a career-high 46.75 points and gave a nowhere near 100 percent Mauney all he could possibly exert.
Even then, it wasn’t enough to down the reigning champion.
“I am a J.B. Mauney fan, so he was the one we wanted on him,” said stock contractor Jeremy Walker. “We are glad he came back from the injuries and was able to ride him like that. I didn’t want no part of throwing J.B. off. You want him to ride him and be however many he was. That is what I like to see.”
Mauney conquers Brutus for 91.25 points in Sacramento, California
Mauney leads all riders with a 7-for-14 showing in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. Out of his seven qualified rides in the rankest bullpen at a BFTS event, Mauney’s best came early in the season at Sleep Train Arena.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy finished second in Sacramento courtesy of his 91.25-point ride on Brutus in the championship round.
“That was a lot better than the long round,” Mauney said at the time, referencing his 2.1-second buckoff against The Don. “I knew that bull has a lot of up and down. If you don’t stay out over him, it is going to whip you down and hit you in the face. He is kind of like a Long John, but just quite not as high. He has the same amount of power and stuff. He really wants to bring a man and whip him down. Here lately it seems like I am getting along with those bulls so I figured I would pick him.”
Mauney wins first career 15/15 Bucking Battle with 90.25 points on Sheep Creek in Kansas City, Missouri
It is hard to pinpoint things that Mauney has never accomplished during his 11-year career, but prior to this season he had never won a 15/15 Bucking Battle.
That was until he ran off three consecutive 15/15 Bucking Battle victories beginning with a 90.25-point ride on Sheep Creek at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
“That gold buckle is the only thing I worry about,” Mauney said in Kansas City. “It is good winning events and winning them rounds, but, shoot, that is the only thing that is on my list. Winning that gold buckle. It makes you feel good when (you win) a 15/15 when that is the rankest bulls here. To win one, that means you rode a bad one to do it.”
It was also sweet revenge for Mauney after Sheep Creek cost him a $100,000 victory at the 2015 Calgary Stampede.
In battle of champions, Mauney picks up 90.25 points on SweetPro’s Long John
It may not be as sexy a rivalry as Mauney vs. Jared Allen’s Air Time, but the Mauney vs. Long John rivalry has been gaining steam this season.
The two are tied up at two wins all time, and if not for the fact that Mauney has not been able to solve Air Time yet, Long John may have been a leading contender for his top bovine rival.
Mauney got the first swing in against Long John this season when he rode the 2015 World Champion Bull for 90.25 points at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I don’t know if it was easy or not,” Mauney said. “I like that bull. Big bulls like that have a lot of up and down and I usually get along with them as long as I do my job. I knew it was going to be a good matchup. I had to do my job and luckily it worked out.”
Ironically, Mauney didn’t even technically select Long John himself during the championship-round draft.
Reese Cates had actually selected the bull for Mauney while he was being attended to by sports medicine for a sprained left ankle following his 82.5-point ride on Darth Vader to end Round 3.
“When he asked me which bull to pick for me, I said, ‘I don’t care. Just pick the rankest one left in there,’” Mauney said. “He come back and told me he picked Long John for me. Somebody then said, ‘Why didn’t you pick Air Time?’ But he said, ‘Well, he already has a bad ankle.’”
It was the second consecutive successful ride for Mauney against the defending World Champion Bull. Mauney rode Long John last season for 92.25 points in Thackerville, Oklahoma, as he took over the No. 1 ranking in the world standings.
Long John would enact his revenge at the Ty Murray Invitational a few months later with a 7.56-second buckoff.
The D&H Cattle Company bovine superstar was marked a season-high 46.75 points for the performance.
First half capper: Mauney rides Moto Moto for 89.75 points at Last Cowboy Standing
Mauney’s first half ended when he was eliminated by rising bovine star Big Cat (1.94 seconds) during Round 3 of Last Cowboy Standing.
Earlier in the night, however, Mauney won Round 2 with an 89.75-point effort on Moto Moto. The ride was enough to help earn Mauney world points and he would finish the event with the second-most world points earned in Las Vegas (125).
Mauney concluded the first half with a BFTS-best 53.33 percent riding average (24-for-45) and led the organization with four 90-point rides.
He is next expected to compete at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.