LAS VEGAS – The bull riding pulse of The Strip is a familiar adrenaline rush to PBR rookie Brennon Eldred.
The 22-year-old grew up watching the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on television, as well as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and Eldred always dreamed of one day going toe-to-toe against the toughest bulls and riders in the game in Las Vegas.
Eldred got his first taste of PBR bull riding in Las Vegas on Friday night, and the Okie is loving it so far.
“This is awesome,” Eldred said. “I love this town. This is where it all started. This is what I watched on TV as a little kid and I always dreamed of. Now I am doing it at the highest level. I couldn’t be happier with where I am at. I am blessed. Really.”
The Sulphur, Oklahoma, native rode Mortimer for 87 points in Round 1 to advance to Round 2 of Last Cowboy Standing later this evening.
In the progressive-elimination formatted event, Eldred knew he didn’t have the luxury of a top-ranked rider that could have potentially got drawn back in – as 12 riders eventually did for Round 2 – if 25 riders didn’t make the 8-second mark.
Eldred, competing in just his third event, was 41st in the world standings and had basically no chance of drawing back in if he were to buck off. Instead, he made the best ride of his young Built Ford Tough Series career.
“I knew it was going to be a good matchup,” Eldred said. “I knew I had to come here ready to ride.”
“Brennon makes a great ride on this bull,” Ty Murray said during the CBS Sports Network broadcast. “The thing I want you to notice about this bull. He bucks good.”
The now No. 35-ranked bull rider is the lowest-ranked rider remaining in the 25-rider field and is joined by four additional rookies – Claudio Montanha Jr., Koal Livingston, Cody Rodeo Tyler and Cody Teel – trying to make a name for themselves by winning the prestigious Last Cowboy Standing event crown, which is accompanied by a fat $100,000 check.
This weekend could be Eldred’s PBR welcome party, however he has already caught the attention of rodeo fans and PBR fans following his last performance in Sin City.
Eldred made waves at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo when he rode 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser for 94.5 points five months ago.
It was one of two 90-point rides during Eldred’s 5-for-10 performance at the NFR.
“The atmosphere (of the Built Ford Tough Series) is completely different than rodeo,” the three-time NFR qualifier said. “It has taken me a little bit to adjust to because all I have done is rodeo. I am starting to get used to it and I really enjoy it.”
The fact that Last Cowboy Standing is being held outside at the Las Vegas Village also adds another sense of normalcy for Eldred, who has competed at multiple outdoor rodeos the last three years.
Eldred takes on Bad Moon Rising (12-8, BFTS) in Round 2.
Fans can watch the conclusion of Last Cowboy Standing Sunday on CBS national television at 4 p.m. ET.
If he gets passed Bad Moon Rising, Eldred will then need another rank ride like that one he had on Bruiser, though, if he wishes to advance to Round 3 on Saturday night.
Round 3 is a star-studded, rank bullpen featuring the likes of Pearl Harbor, Jared Allen’s Air Time, Seven Dust, Smooth Operator and Deep Water.
Eldred grew up 10 miles from D&H Cattle Company in Sulphur, Oklahoma, and was getting on H.D. Page’s 2-year-old bovines by the time he was 10 years old. Once he turned 13, he began attempting to ride some of Page’s best stock.
In other words, he isn’t intimidated by the rankest bulls of the PBR.
RELATED: NFR star Eldred ready for PBR run
Eldred is also competing at the Helldorado Days Rodeo on Sunday and is ranked 20th in the PRCA bull riding standings.
He is hoping to qualify for both the 2017 NFR and PBR World Finals.
Eldred understands a big finish on Saturday at Last Cowboy Standing could help solidify his position in the PBR world standings heading into the BFTS summer break.
“That has been the biggest deal,” Eldred said. “I know where I should be, and where I want to be. I got to go to the last two events and I haven’t gotten to where I want to be. It is tough being on that bubble. Right on that edge. You have to come riding every weekend.
“Hopefully I can get over that and keep the momentum rolling. I am looking forward to it for sure.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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