PUEBLO, Colo. – Cody Jesus’ Facebook inbox is growing every day, especially on weekends when he makes an 8-second ride on the PBR’s premier series.
Jesus estimates that he has about 200-300 unread messages since he went a career-high 3-for-3 in Fairfax, Virginia, a month ago to surge to 38th in the world standings.
The 20-year-old has quickly put himself on the map for the PBR’s international audience and placed himself in the 2018 World Finals conversation.
Jesus may have been relatively new to the PBR fan base, but those that have been following the International Finals Rodeo for the last few years, especially those from the Navajo Nation, have been waiting for this moment.
“The whole Navajo Nation has been wanting me to go to the Finals,” Jesus said this past weekend in Nampa, Idaho. “That puts a little pressure on me. My Facebook blows up a bunch. I haven’t been able to get back to everyone. They all say, ‘We want you to make it.’”
Jesus is one step closer to qualifying for his first PBR World Finals after going 2-for-3 at the DEWALT Guaranteed Tough Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa for 120 world points.
The Navajo bull rider began his weekend with 88 points aboard Homegrown and then rode My Creation to the tune of 86.75 points.
However, Jesus was unable to convert on Check Mate in the championship round (3.28 seconds).
It was a strong bounce-back performance for Jesus after going rideless in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Jesus is now on the doorstep of the Top 35 ahead of this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Fans can watch the final RVT regular-season event on RidePass beginning at 10 p.m. ET on Friday night.
The Window Rock, Arizona, bull rider is ranked No. 36 and is only 22.5 points behind No. 35 Chase Outlaw.
Jesus admitted he had to take a step back following Greensboro as he let the expectations of the Navajo Nation wear him down some.
“That is what it is,” he said. “That is what got to me last week. The expectation. It put me so high up there that I kind of forgot how to ride bulls. This week I had to forget about bull riding for a little bit. I still sat on the barrel and did my usual, but I tried to forget about bull riding as much as I could and just focus on myself. Come here and take care of business.”
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Jesus did strain his right groin during his second-round ride in Nampa. Jesus, though, is still expected to ride in Colorado Springs.
Jesus won the Indian National Finals Rodeo in 2016 by going 4-for-4, including a 93-point ride in the championship round.
The INFR championship gave him the confidence that maybe he could indeed take his talents to the professional level, says Jesus.
“The INFR, when I stayed on four bulls in a row, it carried a lot of confidence for me,” he said. “That is all I wanted to do. Shoot, ever since I rode four.
“I want to ride every bull I get on and that is how it is.”
Jesus finished third at the 2017 INFR as he was bucked off in the short go.
Tyler Rogers went 4-for-4 to win the 2017 bull riding INFR championship.
Fans can watch every round of competition from the 2018 INFR in Las Vegas exclusively on RidePass. The INFR began on Tuesday and ends on Saturday at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa.
Team USA Wolves coach Wiley Petersen named Jesus to his 2018 WinStar World Casino & Resort Global Cup USA Cup squad on Sept. 4.
Jesus expects the winner of this week’s INFR to have to go a perfect 4-for-4.
“It is pretty hard to win,” Jesus said. “You get guys coming from all over to ride. It is pretty much a clean slate so you can’t fall off anything over there.”
Fellow bubble rider Cannon Cravens, who is also riding in Colorado Springs, competed at the INFR two years in the junior bull riding.
“The very first year I went, I had it wrapped up and I fell off my short round bull,” Cravens, a Cherokee, said. “The second year I just didn’t draw to good. I never tried to make it for the big bulls. It was a pretty cool experience. I liked it. With all the Indians going, it was different and it was cool.”
A victory at the INFR may also give another young, upstart Native American the confidence to pursue a World Finals dream as it did for Jesus.
“I am not sure who all made it, but I feel like whoever wins it will give them the confidence to come here,” Jesus concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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