PUEBLO, Colo. – Brennon Eldred plopped himself into an open seat between 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis and 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel inside the Built Ford Tough Series locker room last weekend.
Eldred was preparing to make his BFTS debut in Billings, Montana, and was already beginning to feel the adrenaline rush being amidst the best bull riders in the world.
To his right, Davis was offering advice to 2016 Rookie of the Year Jess Lockwood, while a few feet away 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi was laughing with fellow BFTS-newbie Ramon Rodrigues and three-time World Champion Silvano Alves.
Unlike other young riders that are sometimes awe-struck by seeing their childhood idols, Eldred felt relaxed and at home.
Eldred is now even more motivated to get back to the Built Ford Tough Series as soon as possible following his 1-for-3 performance at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
“There is definitely that atmosphere in the locker room I crave,” Eldred said. “I crave that. For sure, seeing all of these world champs. It is the best of the best and I try to feed off that. I love it.”
Eldred was competing in Billings as an alternate and began his career with an 82.5-point ride on Stars & Stripes in Round 1.
“I am kind of disappointed I didn’t finish him like I started,” Eldred said. “I got lazy and he was kind of big and strong. I was lazy and didn’t finish him off right.”
Eldred was then bucked off by Kookaburra (4.79 seconds) and Good Ride’s Jailhouse Jr. (4.4 seconds) in Rounds 2 & 3.
It was a disappointing debut for Eldred, but the No. 43 ranked bull rider knows he can make up some ground in the world standings this weekend at the Iowa Tribe Touring Pro Division event on Friday and Saturday in Perkins, Oklahoma.
Perkins is only 100 miles north of Eldred’s hometown of Sulphur.
Other riders scheduled to tentatively compete include 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, No. 31 Cody Rodeo Tyler and No. 32 J.W. Harris.
Eldred last competed at a TPD event two weeks ago, going 4-for-5 to finish in first and sixth place, and his performance earned him a shot at the BFTS level.
The 22-year-old is still only 108.34 points out of the Top 35.
“I wouldn’t say I was nervous at all,” Eldred said of his BFTS debut. “I am at the point in my career where the bright lights don’t bother me. I have been there and done that. It is different. The atmosphere is different, but I am liking it.”
Eldred has qualified for three consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and rode 2016 PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser for 94.5 points last year’s NFR in Las Vegas.
“It don’t matter where I am at,” Eldred said. “Bull riding is bull riding. You have to ride your bull. I just try to keep as calm as I can. I really didn’t feel any different being here than a little rodeo near the house.”
He is currently 23rd in the PRCA bull riding standings.
Eldred is 13-for-24 (54.17 percent) at all levels of competition. He easily could be on the BFTS full time by now if not for his 2-for-8 record in the championship round at Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour and TPD events.
“That is just part of it,” Edlred said of his pursuit of a BFTS draw spot. “I had to pay my dues in the PRCA. It is like starting over again, but that is part of it. It was tough on me. I went to eight events and made the short round in every single one I went to, but I was coming up short in the championship round. I would stub my toe a little.”
Teel said he expects Eldred to be on tour with him at the BFTS level in no time.
“He rides great and he got here,” Teel said. “He just has to keep doing what he has been doing all year long. He will fit in just fine. He has been one of the more consistent guys over the years. Being consistent is what pays, especially here in the PBR.
“You just have to not overthink it and stick to the basics of riding bulls. It is different here. It is fast-paced and you are getting on great bulls consistently. Day in and day out you are getting on great bulls. Any great competitor will rise up. You do this for the challenge.”
Meanwhile, Eldred said the recent success of Teel, who is 12th in the world standings, and Davis’ 2016 gold buckle serve as motivation for him to work his tail off to be with his buddies.
“My heart wasn’t really set on the PBR until this past year,” Eldred admitted. “Rodeo has been what I have been wanting to do for the last three or four years and going to the NFR. That has been my dream and my goal. Of course, I have always dreamed of coming here, but, for sure, seeing my buddies come up on tour and do what they do just motivates me that much more.”
He now hopes to follow in the footsteps of Shane Proctor and qualify for both the NFR and PBR World Finals later this fall.
“I still want to get back (to the NFR) in December, but I would love to go to (the PBR World Finals) in November and then ride in December,” Eldred concluded. “That summer run is where it is at. Hopefully I can keep picking away here and rodeo during the summer.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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