BILLINGS, Mont. – Matt Triplett glanced up at Section 20 inside Rimrock Auto Arena and remembered all of the times he sat in the stadium seats in awe of his bull riding heroes nodding for the gate a few feet below him.
It was in 2005 when Triplett was an eighth grade kiddo watching a young, bull riding superstar by the name of Guilherme Marchi making easy work of his bovine challengers.
Twelve years later, and Triplett still sometimes catches himself being a fan of one of his childhood heroes.
Saturday night was one of those moments. Triplett was right there rooting Marchi on as he rode Shocker for 86.25 points to become the first rider in PBR history to record 600 qualified rides at the Built Ford Tough Series level.
“It is so huge,” Triplett said. “That stuff is amazing. I don’t know if another guy will ever reach that number. To be able to witness that, it couldn’t have happened to a better guy. I couldn’t be happier for Guilherme.”
It was in 2005 when Marchi went 6-for-8 to win the PBR World Finals event bull riding average and finish second in the world standings.
2005 was the first of three consecutive runner-up finishes to the PBR World Champion before Marchi rode Rewind for 87.5 points and that elusive World Championship at the 2008 World Finals.
Marchi put forth one of the best seasons in PBR history that year by riding a remarkable 72.55 percent of his bulls (74-for-102), winning five events and posting 13 90-point rides.
Only twice in his career has he finished outside of the Top 10 of the world standings.
Marchi is 600-for-1,070 (56.07 percent) with 51 90-point rides, 24 event wins and three 15/15 Bucking Battle victories in his 14-year career.
The 34-year-old is one of only seven riders to have a World Championship and World Finals event buckle on his resume. The other six riders are three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney, 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis, 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes and 1998 World Champion Troy Dunn.
Davis was 10 years old when Marchi made his PBR debut in 2004.
“That is crazy,” Davis said. “I was looking at his stats. Since 2004, that is a lot of bull riding. That is called getting the job done. To be on tour that many years, and to take that abuse on your body and to still love it like he does, is pretty inspiring.
“To be able to share the same locker room with him is pretty special in its own right.”
Current world leader Eduardo Aparecido was at home in Decatur, Texas, watching Marchi make history on Saturday night.
Marchi helped Aparecido with his adjustment to the United States after the 2013 season when Aparecido was homesick and thinking of returning to Brazil.
2013 was Aparecido’s first World Finals qualification, while it was Marchi’s 10th consecutive.
“He is one of the best because of his fondness for being a good-hearted person, a very good friend to everyone,” Aparecido said via text message. “This is very nice for his story in the PBR.”
2013 Rookie of the Year Joao Ricardo Vieira led a coalition of Brazilian riders, including Luciano de Castro, Robson Aragao and Luis Blanco, that mobbed Marchi on the dirt in Billings once he made history.
“It is fantastic,” Vieira said. “Guilherme is the best cowboy in the world for consistency. He has the best longevity. To be 14 years in the PBR is very tough. Only the best bull riders are here.”
Marchi is currently 20th in the world standings and will likely qualify for a 14th consecutive World Finals in November.
He became the first bull rider to reach the prestigious 500-ride mark when he rode Pandora’s Pyxis in Phoenix in April 2014.
At the time, current world No. 6 bull rider Derek Kolbaba was a month away from turning 18 and buying his PBR permit.
Kolbaba was 8 years old when Marchi first debuted on the BFTS in August 2004 in Oklahoma City, while No. 4 ranked bull rider Jess Lockwood was 6.
“That is crazy to put it all in perspective like that,” Kolbaba said. “It is mind blowing to see, and it is cool to see where this sport is. I remember seeing Guilherme when I was younger. To be riding against him now is pretty cool.”
Lockwood added, “That is something special. 600 bulls is unreal. Heck, 34 years is a long time doing something, especially something this rough and tough.”
Kolbaba, who turns 21 in 11 days, hopes his passion and love for the sport will be just as high as Marchi’s when he enters his 30s.
“Guilherme is a machine,” Kolbaba added. “It doesn’t really matter what to him. He has rode the best bulls there ever was. If I can be riding that good when I am his age, and have that love, things will be looking pretty well for me.
“It excites you to see somebody like that is so passionate for the sport. That is what everybody should take away from it. It is going to be a sad day when he decides to hang it up. It is pretty special.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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