PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood returned to his bull riding roots when he made a visit to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming, this week.
During the accompanying trade show, Lockwood sat down for an Ariat-sponsored Facebook LIVE question and answer session with fans. Over the course of the Q&A, Lockwood covered a range of topics, including his high school experience and what he has learned in his professional career.
Lockwood enjoyed a dominant high school career. The Volborg, Montana, cowboy was a three-time Montana State High School Rodeo Association bull riding champion and qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo all four years of his high school career.
When asked how important his high school rodeo experience was to his bull riding development, Lockwood was reflective.
“I grew up going to junior high rodeos and high school rodeos. It’s a good stepping stone,” Lockwood said. “Whenever you’re competing, you don’t want to go from the lower rungs to the very top because it’s a tough transition. High school rodeo is a great stepping stone for that.”
Lockwood also acknowledged that his trips to the high school finals did not end the way he wanted to.
Those failures, though, kept him humble and helped fuel him to be better.
“Three of the four years I was here, I was leading the bull riding heading into the short go but then I bucked off and ended up placing third or fourth,” Lockwood said. “Heck, it’s tough to be leading (and) then get bucked off because you’re expecting so much out of yourself.
“But you just have to forget about the past, and there’s always another rodeo to go to.”
Lockwood is currently fourth in the world standings and trails world leader Eduardo Aparecido by 945 points. The 19-year-old has earned 292.5 world points this summer, including 102.5 at the Calgary Stampede last weekend.
Over the summer, Lockwood has bounced back from a torn groin that that kept him out of competition for four weeks after getting bucked off by Cooper Tires Brown Sugar at Iron Cowboy in Arlington, Texas.
Lockwood has been putting in work since the Built Ford Tough Series summer break began. He opened June with a third-place finish at the Quebec City PBR Canada International Major, then followed that with a second-place performance at the Deadwood, South Dakota, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event.
“I’m feeling good and everything has been going good for me. It’s been pretty good all summer,” Lockwood said. “Heck, whenever you get to compete with those guys every weekend it gets you pretty excited.”
Given how far Lockwood has come since his days at high school rodeos, fans in attendance asked what kind of advice the 2016 Rookie of the Year had for them when it came to following their own dreams.
The ultra-competitive Lockwood simply wanted to remind the young rodeo stars to not forget to take in the moment.
“This is the most fun you’re going to have so take it in. I wish I could be here every single year because it’s the most fun you’re ever going to have,” Lockwood said. “Keep your head high. Things aren’t always going to go how you want them to but you just got to keep on keeping on.”
That sense of humbleness has stayed with Lockwood through his rise to PBR stardom, and some fans wanted to know how he manages to stay so down to earth.
“That’s just how I was brought up,” Lockwood said. “It’s rodeo. One day you might be on top and the next day you may be on the bottom, so you don’t want to get too confident in yourself because you can look silly quick.
“If you’re always a good guy and nice and you’re not overly confident, in the bad times people are going to help you.”
The second-year professional has earned the respect of many of his bull riding peers, and he has formed some of the best friendships of his life.
One fan asked just how close he and Derek Kolbaba (No. 3 in the world standings) are after Lockwood made his PBR debut last year.
“We keep in touch every single day, and he’s one of my best friends,” Lockwood said. “He’s a great bull rider and we fuel each other and help each other get better.”
He also mentioned his friendship with 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis.
“Friends wise I look up to my good friend Cooper Davis a lot,” Lockwood said. “He’s a great family man and was last year’s World Champion. He’s as nice and as good of a guy as they come.”
High school rodeo meant a lot to Lockwood, both for his development and growth as a person. He complimented the good competition and good people he met along the way and praised the National High School Rodeo Association for providing an avenue for aspiring rodeo athletes to hone their skills.
Though he never reached the top of the mountain while he competed at the high school level, Lockwood had a message for the weekend’s competitors.
“Just stay humble,” Lockwood said. “And have fun.”
© 2018 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.