PUEBLO, Colo. – 2015 Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco may have come up just short of becoming the first rookie to win a PBR World Championship, but what he did do last season was truly one of the best rookie seasons in PBR history.
While Jess Lockwood, Derek Kolbaba and Wallace de Oliveira have begun their rookie seasons this year with big-time rides and victories, they still will have some ways to go to try and match what Pacheco accomplished last season.
The recent success of Lockwood and Kolbaba has brought with it added excitement about the future of professional bull riding, but when talking about the PBR’s young guns you cannot forget about the 21-year-old Pacheco.
Pacheco set PBR rookie records with 37 qualified rides and seven Built Ford Tough Series round wins in 2015. He also tied Silvano Alves and Joao Ricardo Vieira’s rookie record of three event wins.
The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider went 37-for-78 and finished second in the world to 2015 J.B. Mauney, who himself won the 2006 Rookie of the Year award.
In comparison, Mauney won only one round in his Rookie of the Year season.
Pacheco’s 78 outs were the second most by a rookie behind 2008 Rookie of the Year Reese Cates (79).
Pacheco, who is competing at this weekend’s Uvalde, Texas, BlueDEF Tour event, said in Billings, Montana, that he was impressed by the performances of this year’s rookie class.
“I am very proud because I was the rookie last year,” Pacheco said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “(Lockwood) is only 18 years old and he proved to everybody he is one of the best bull riders.”
Coincidentally, Pacheco also won his third BFTS event during his rookie year like Lockwood did this season.
Pacheco went 3-for-4 last year in St. Louis for his first victory. It was technically his fourth career event though after going 0-for-1 at the 2014 Last Cowboy Standing in his career debut.
Lockwood went 4-for-4 with two round wins in Billings for his first event victory. Pacheco also had two round wins during his first BFTS victory.
Lockwood was 5-for-11 (45.45 percent) on the BFTS at the time of his victory; four of those rides were good enough for BFTS round victories. In comparison, Pacheco was 8-for-13 (61.54 percent) in is first three BFTS events with three round wins during the first three events of his rookie season.
Pacheco used much of the similar language that was once said about his quick rise last season when asked about Lockwood.
“He has a really good chance to be the Rookie of the Year this year,” Pacheco said. “He has a chance to be a World Champion too. He moves fast. He is strong and is kind of cold before he gets on. He has a lot of passion about what he does. He is going to be a superstar soon.”
Lockwood is currently third in the Rookie of the Year race and trails Kolbaba by 147.17 points, while Oliveira is only 10 points behind Kolbaba.
Oliveira, who is eighth in the world standings, is one of five Top 10 bull riders tentatively expected to compete in Uvalde this weekend at the Cactus Jack PBR Bull Riding.
Other Top 10 riders competing include No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira, No. 3 Fabiano Vieira, No. 4 Paulo Lima and No. 6 Eduardo Aparecido.
Oliveira – the 36-year-old elder statesman in the rookie race – knows a strong performance in Uvalde, and especially at Last Cowboy Standing – the headlining event of Las Vegas Helldorado Days, could help him not only jump back into the Rookie of the Year lead, but potentially even the world lead.
“Every guy has a dream to be here in the PBR, especially to try and win one of these special events,” Oliveira said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “You just have to go to Las Vegas and ride good because it is such a nice place to have a bull riding in. All of the good bulls and bull riders are there.”
Oliveira trails Mauney by 585 points in the world standings.
Pacheco headed into Last Cowboy Standing last year third in the world standings and 540 points behind then world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira. This year, he won’t head in at No. 3, but he still is only 722.17 points behind Mauney.
The second-year pro is fifth on the BFTS with a 46 percent riding average (23-for-50).
There are a total of 16 Top 35 riders expected to compete in Uvalde.
If Pacheco can repeat as the Uvalde event winner this season, the No. 13 ranked bull rider would move to 10th in the world heading into Last Cowboy Standing – final PBR Major and event of the first half.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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