PUEBLO, Colo. – Robson Aragao’s eyes began to water as he ducked behind a corner wall inside Rimrock Auto Arena.
Despite being close to three years older than Guilherme Marchi, Aragao has always viewed Marchi as a big brother ever since the two first met in 2004 at a bull riding in Barretos, Brazil.
“He works so hard. A lot. I am very proud of Guilherme. I don’t have one bad thing to say about it. Oh my goodness,” Aragao said before wiping his eyes. “I am so excited to have pulled his rope for 600. It is very special for him and very special for me.”
Marchi had asked Aragao, who arrived in the U.S. during Marchi’s 2008 championship season, to pull his bull rope last Saturday night prior to Marchi riding Shocker for 86.25 points for the 600th ride of his Built Ford Tough Series career.
Just as Aragao was climbing over Marchi to get back on the bucking chutes, he whispered, “We are ready for 600 bulls. You won’t come down once you put your hand in the rope.”
Sure enough, Marchi didn’t.
Aragao is now fighting his own battle to stay on the Built Ford Tough Series so that he can continue to ride side-by-side with one of his best friends.
The 37-year-old heads into this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Yakima, Washington, ranked 35th in the world standings.
Aragao may be struggling to find his groove on the BFTS, where he is a mere 4-for-21, but he has been close to lights out at the PBR’s second-tier of competition and is No. 1 in the Velocity Tour standings.
The Aracaju, Brazil, bull rider is 13-for-20 (65 percent) at 10 Velocity events and is 30 points ahead of No. 2 Koal Livingston in the Velocity standings.
He won the Bangor, Maine, Velocity Tour event just days after his son, Roger, was born in early March.
“It was special to win that event,” Aragao said. “My wife said you are going to ride in Bangor, win and give the buckle to your son. I told my wife, ‘This I can do.’”
Aragao has drawn O Zone for Round 1 on Saturday night.
The competition begins at 7 p.m. PT inside the Yakima Valley SunDome.
No. 6 Derek Kolbaba, No. 13 Joao Ricardo Vieira and No. 34 Luis Blanco are the other Top 35 bull riders in the world standings schedule to be competing in Yakima during the BFTS off weekend.
Aragao continues to receive inspiration from Marchi this season.
Aragao last qualified for the Built Ford Tough World Finals in 2015. It was during that season that Aragao spent the first couple of months living in a guest house on Marchi’s property and training side-by-side with the future Ring of Honor inductee.
“I have pulled Guilherme’s rope for a long time,” Aragao said. “He is a good guy to me and helps me a lot and support me. We have a long story together. He is a pretty cool guy.”
Aragao is currently the oldest rider ranked in the Top 35 of the world standings. Marchi and Fabiano Vieira are the next oldest at 34 years old, just ahead of 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, 33, and Rubens Barbosa, 33.
Aragao is attempting to qualify for the Built Ford Tough World Finals for the first time since 2015, and third overall, and refuses to let his age be a detriment.
“I am 37 years old and I still ride bulls,” Aragao said. “I will try for a couple more years. It is hard because there are a lot of young boys riding good, but I can do it. I still have power in my arms and when I squeeze my legs.
“I can still ride bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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