PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood is making sure he has no regrets this summer.
The No. 4 rider in the world standings has aggressively been hitting the PBR summer grind despite having the option to take some time off during the Built Ford Tough Series break, and he finally hit payday this past weekend at the Bleacher Builders Inc. Touring Pro Division event in Binford, North Dakota.
Lockwood earned his first TPD victory of the year by riding Red Bandana for an event-winning 89.5 points during the championship round on Saturday night.
The 19-year-old was aggressive on the back of Red Bandana, taking the fight to the bull vs. having Chad Berger’s bovine athlete carry him to the 8-second mark. Lockwood eventually found a good seat on Red Bandana and then whipped his free arm emphatically as the bull spun into his left-riding hand.
“Oh heck, it was just kind of my instincts there,” Lockwood said. “Just sit up and ride him. That was a cool bull. He doesn’t kick much. He is just really brute and fast.”
Lockwood earned 60 points toward the world standings to cut world leader Eduardo Aparecido’s lead to 1,047.5 points.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider bounced back from his Round 1 buckoff against Fist City (4.03 seconds) to ride Hello Darlin for 88.5 points with his second entry in the event. Riders are allowed to enter multiple times in non-BFTS events when there are extra openings in the draw.
“That was a pretty young bull of Chad Berger’s,” Lockwood said. “He was right there around to the left. He was throwing his head all funny, and he felt really weird to ride. Each round he would make, he was throwing his head so much that he would reach back and he would hit my inside riding knee. I had a little skin taken off.
“He wasn’t the most fun thing to ride, but he was pretty cool at the same time.”
Lockwood’s Round 1 victory in Binford allowed him to select Red Bandana during the championship-round draft with the top pick.
Red Bandana has been a fantastic championship-round bull this year. In the four times Red Bandana has been ridden, each rider was scored 86.75 points or higher.
“I knew he was pretty good, but I didn’t think I would be close to 90 on him,” Lockwood said. “He was one of the more rider-friendly bulls in that short go. I knew I just had to ride in the short go and win it.”
Instead of resting in his laurels, and his body for that matter, Lockwood has hit the ground running since the end of Last Cowboy Standing.
Lockwood has earned 190 points toward the world standings in one month.
He has competed in five events and has a first-, second- and third-place finish under his belt by going 9-for-14.
“Since we are off the break form the Built Ford Toughs, there is no reason to be staying home and sitting around,” Lockwood said. “You might as well keep riding and keep your body feeling good. As long as your body is feeling good, you might as well go as much as you can in the summer. That world title race can come down to 10 points. You will feel kind of dumb if you sat around all summer at home and end up losing it by 10 points because you didn’t do all you could and go all summer.”
Lockwood believes he is finally closing in on riding like he was prior to tearing his left groin in February.
With each TPD event and Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event he goes to, it only feeds into his growing confidence.
“After I tore that groin, I wasn’t being aggressive,” Lockwood said. “I am finally being aggressive again and that is everything. If you aren’t aggressive on the back of the bull, it is going to go bad. When you are getting on bulls this often during the summer, you are going to get things back. Once you get it back, it is going to carry on because you are getting on every two-to-three days and not getting much of a break.”
Lockwood has no plans of slowing down either.
He is flying back to Bowie, Texas, on Thursday before driving to Rock Springs on Friday night for the two-night Slick Rock Challenge TPD event.
Lockwood is one of eight riders inside the Top 35 tentatively scheduled to compete at the Edwards County Fairgrounds. Top riders joining Lockwood include No. 12 Rubens Barbosa, No. 14 Cody Teel, No. 16 Marco Eguchi, No. 17 Cody Nance, No. 18 Fabiano Vieira, No. 29 Koal Livingston and No. 33 Luis Blanco.
Following Rock Springs, Lockwood will then fly to Calgary for two PBR Canada Touring Pro Division events on July 4-6 and Pool A action at the 2017 Calgary Stampede on July 7-10.
It will be a Cowboy Christmas kind of run for Lockwood as he will compete in seven of 10 days beginning on Friday. He will then ride every day from July 4-10.
“I love to be able to travel all over,” Lockwood said. “I love outdoor bull ridings and I love it when it is hot out. I get to travel all over and keep myself busy. There is nothing better than riding bulls and doing what you love all summer long.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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