TACOMA, Wash. ― Careful not overstate his beliefs, Guilherme Marchi quantified his expectations for Marco Eguchi by pointing out that "he's a really good guy and he's a young guy."
But the 2008 World Champion is certain that Eguchi, "has a lot of potential to be a World Champion this year."
Eguchi was the lone rider at the Tacoma Invitational to cover all three bulls en route to winning his second Built Ford Tough Series event in the past three weeks. He previously won in Kansas City, Mo., last month.
In his second full season on the BFTS, Eguchi now has five Top 5 finishes and two other Top 10 finishes after competing in nine of the first 10 events. Only twice in nine events has he missed the Built Ford Championship Round - Winston-Salem, N.C., and Arlington, Texas.
"He's really good and he's
a young guy - this is only his second year - and, I think, he has a
lot of potential to be a World Champion this year."
He's covered 16-of-28 bulls and his average of 57.14 percent is almost five percentage points better than his career BFTS average of 52.34 percent.
Eguchi and Fabiano Vieira have the highest riding percentages on the BFTS, but Vieira only has half as many total outs as Eguchi.
More importantly, he moved into second place in the world standings and now trails Shane Proctor by only 349.87 points.
"When you feel 100 percent everything comes your way," said Eguchi, with the help of Marchi translating during his post-event interviews, "and when you have confidence when you feel strong. When you come to the event and you're not hurt and you're not in pain, you have a strong mind. When you're hurt you're down a little bit and no confidence."
Eguchi spent 12 weeks in the Top 5 last year until a wrist injury on his riding hand derailed an otherwise stellar season and kept him from contending down the stretch.
He managed to win the fourth round at the World Finals and then was a perfect 4-for-4 at the PBR Brahma Super Bull Finals, in Brazil, when he broke his jaw after being hit with a bull horn dismounting. He won the event despite missing the championship round.
However, the injury resulted in paralysis on right side of his face.
Only recently has he recovered to where he can finally concentrate on simply riding bulls, making the whistle and collecting one score after another.
Eguchi said his focus is better than it was after missing the season-opening event in New York, and that he's healthy and confident.
"I forget last year," Eguchi said. "My dedication is this year. I hope to finish strong this year. … I wish to finish strong and I wish to be a champion this year."
In Tacoma, Eguchi opened the event with a modest 81.5-point effort on Indian Outlaw in Round 1, but moved from 13th in the average to third after Round 2 when he added 87.75 points on Sic' Em Sam.
He used the third pick in the bull draft to select Jordan's Jacket, a bull he knew nothing about, but selected after consulting with Silvano Alves. Eguchi then rode him for another 88.5 points to surpass the two-time reigning World Champion in the world standings.
Eguchi beat out J.B. Mauney, Renato Nunes, Eduardo Aparecido and Aaron Roy for the third BFTS event win his career.
ALTERNATIVE NATION: The current alternate list is now topped by L.J. Jenkins, 31; Ryan Dirteater, 32; Zack Brown, 33; Austin Meier, 34, and Harve Stewart, 35. It's a complete reordering from the list ― Ben Jones, 31; Meier, 32; Stewart, 33; Brown, 34, and Troy Wilkinson, 35 ― that was used in Tacoma.
Dirteater, who won two Touring Pro Division events in the past three weeks, was 2-for-3 and finished the event by splitting sixth and seventh with Emilio Resende, made the biggest move this weekend. After he said, "Just wish I could have finished it off."
Though he was disappointed he wasn't able to make the whistle in the final round ― he bucked off King of Hearts ― the fan-favorite all but assured himself he'll be in next week's draw in Fresno, Calif. Jenkins and Dirteater both have a great opportunity, while Brown and Meier would make it in based on how this week's draw came together.
However, Stewart will remain on the injured list for the foreseeable future after sustaining several fractured ribs and a lacerated kidney a week ago at the Iron Cowboy IV, in Arlington, Texas. He was released from a Dallas hospital on Sunday.
INJURY UPDATES: On Sunday, Brendon Clark declined a re-ride option in the second round after being stepped on. In an e-mail, Dr. Tandy Freeman, said the 32-year-old Aussie sustained "soft tissue bruising about the pelvis." Early in the round, Freeman said Douglas Duncan strained his neck when he landed on his head after bucking of his second round bull.
J. B. Mauney and Guilherme Marchi were injured in the opening round, on Friday night, and both were able to compete the next day. Mauney, who was 2-for-3 and finished second in the average, sprained his left ankle when it was twisted in the chute prior to his first ride. Marchi later strained his lower back when he was thrown from his bull.
DEBATE REGARDING DECLING RE-RIDE OPTIONS: Much has been made of two-time reigning World Champion Silvano Alves declining re-ride options over the past three seasons. He did so again Friday night when he elected to keep a score of 71 points. On Sunday evening, PBR statistician Slade Long sent the following e-mail:
"The scoop is: in terms of the World Champion race, if a guy rides more than 68 percent of his bulls ― as Alves did in his first season ― none of the other riders will catch him whether he declines every re-ride or not. Declining re-rides can be a good play in that situation because A: it's a safe move and guaranteed points; B: minimizes wear and tear on the rider; C: it can contribute to making the short go and placing high in the event.
"As long as a guy is riding more of his bulls than the other riders are, he can play it safe every time and still win the World Championship. He's got a built in advantage.
"But for guys who don't ride 60-68 percent, which includes almost everyone (and Alves this season), it's a different deal. They are at a disadvantage in the race because they have fewer scores to tally up at the end of the year. Thus it's very important that they get big scores because those come with wins and bonus points, and that is the only way they can keep up with the higher riding percentage guys. The lower the riding percentage the more important it is not to let those qualified rides go to waste. If a guy is riding 40 percent on the season he won't be in contention unless his 40 out of a hundred rides produce more wins and bonus points than his competitor's 60 rides out of a hundred.
"Two-day events are where the lower percentage guys can gain ground. At three-day events with an extra round, the higher percentage guys again have an advantage."
THE DIRT: Despite an even layer of small, round stones atop the arena dirt, bullfighter Shorty Gorham said, "I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was the best dirt of the year." When asked why, the veteran said, "Because when the last bull bucked it looked like it did when the first one went." Gorham said this week's arena looked like it was covered with a mixture of dirt, gravel and sand.
SNOW PATROL: A few riders ― Luke Snyder, Sean Willingham, Jory Markiss and Chase Outlaw ― arrived in Washington early and hit the nearby slopes a day before the event with the folks from SAYiWON'T apparel.
For Outlaw, it was only his second time on skis and first time on a snowboard. Willingham and Snyder regularly ski, while Markiss hadn't been on a mountain in nearly seven years. Markiss, a Montana native, said he "picked it right up" on Friday morning when he took Outlaw to the top of the black diamond run on their first trip up the mountain.
He said Outlaw didn't want to try it at first, but, at that point, his only other option would have been to hike two miles back down the mountain through the snow. They skied down the mountain without ski poles because, as Markiss noted, "It makes you concentrate on your skis."
Added Markiss, who was proud of his ski instructor-like methods, "Chase was cutting it up by the end of the day."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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