CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Sept. 25, 2010) – The feast of rides in round one of the PBR’s Charlottesville Invitational turned into famine in round two on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Of the 40 riders in Friday’s round, 38 stayed healthy enough to make it to Saturday’s round two. But of those 38, only five hung on for the full eight seconds in round 2 and got a score. In fact, it took nine riders to get the first score of the night, and 29 riders to get the second.
Those stats, while not necessarily impressive, were not from a lack of trying on the riders’ parts. The bulls were just that tough, and won more battles than they lost.
An impressive stat was that of the five who posted scores, four had qualified rides the night before, and went into the championship round with two scores on the books.
And with all the focus on the race to the PBR World Championship – just 24 days away – the top three riders in the weekend’s stop on the campus of the University of Virginia are not in position to claim that championship. They were, instead, riding for the round, the event win and prize money.
When the final buzzer rang in the John Paul Jones Arena, it was Australian Brendon Clark who won the weekend. Clark was the only rider to cover all three of his bulls. In round two, he scored 72.25 points on “Ramble On” (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls). Coming off the bull clutching his riding hand and visibly in pain, Clark made the businessman’s decision to keep the score, decline an offered re-ride and hope to have enough hand left to ride in the championship round.
That decision paid off. Picking fourth in the championship round draft – with his riding hand packed in ice – Clark took “RMEF Bugle” (Jeff Robinson), then rode the bull for 88.75 points and his first event win since 2007.
Second in the event is the reigning PBR World Champion, Kody Lostroh.
Lostroh returned to competition last weekend in Springfield, Missouri after missing 17 events for surgery to repair injuries he rode through on his way to last year’s title. In Springfield, Lostroh went scoreless as he shook off the cobwebs.
Charlottesville was a different story, however, as Lostroh split the round one win with Clark and Cody Nance. After bucking off “Tragedy” (Jeff Robinson) in 4.3 seconds in round two, Lostroh picked fifth in the short-go draft, and took “I’m Back” (Jeff Robinson), a “Panhandle Slim” clone. The 89.25 point ride won the short-go and gave him the event lead, at least until Clark rode.
Third in the event was Aussie and new-found fan favorite Ben Jones. The wild-dancing bull rider took Deja Blu (Jeff Robinson/Cappello/Teague) in the championship round draft, picking 7th. He power-housed through the ride for 89 points, and then treated the cheering crowd to his trademark dance.
In round two, Jones faced off with “Road Daddy” (Dakota Rodeo/Lacey Berger/Ande Hawks), with the bull winning the match-up at the 3.6 second mark.
Valdiron de Oliveira finished the event in 4th place, scoring 88.25 points on “Uncle Buck” (Robinson/Cappello/Teague). Oliveira had won the match-up between the two at the start of the season as well, in Baltimore, Md., for 89 points. In round two, Oliveira flew off of “Mood Swing” (Box K Cattle) right out of the chute, stopping the clock at 1.5 seconds. Heading into the event in the number 5 position in the world championship race, Oliveira maintained his position in the standings.
The final qualified ride in the championship round – and the fifth place finish in the event – went to his countryman, Silvano Alves. Alves stayed perfectly centered on “Rippin’ Wrangler” (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Dallas Schutz), in the short-go, scoring 88.25 points.
But to get to the championship round, first the bull riders had to get through round two.
That was easier said than done, as the riders quickly learned.
Through the first three flights of riders, the lone score was by Colby Yates, who got his second score of the weekend, an 89-pointer on “Flashpoint” (Teague Bucking Bulls LLC). That was enough to win Yates the round and leave him high in the picking order for the short-go. He went into the championship round in second place, picking “Unabomber” (Robinson/Cappello/Teague). That ride lasted only 4.7 seconds. He finished tied for 6th/7th in the event.
Second in round two was JB Mauney, currently the number two man in the race to the world championship. In the round, Mauney put on a riding clinic of what to do, easily handling “Look Out” (Circle T Ranch & Rodeo) for 87 points. That, combined with his ride in round one, helped Mauney finish in 8th for the event, after he bucked off “Highway 12” (Robinson/Mesa) in a wild short-go trip that lasted only 2.8 seconds. The finish will help him gain a little ground on number one man Austin Meier, who finished 13th in the event, but wasn’t enough to displace him in the championship hunt.
Pistol Robinson finished third in round two, riding “Raisin’ Cane” (Circle T) for 86.25 points. That sent Robinson into the short-go in the number one spot, where he took on “Voodoo Child” (Robinson/Beutler/McNeely). That trip lasted 4 seconds, when “Voodoo Child” put an end to Robinson’s shot at a win, and clinched it for Clark.
Fourth in round two was Wiley Petersen, who scored 84 points on “Beener Keekee” (Jeff Robinson). Petersen’s only score of the weekend, it wasn’t enough to bring him back to the short-go, missing it by less than one point.
The only other qualified ride in round two went to Brendon Clark, who scored a lowly 72.25 points on “Ramble On” (Jeff Robinson), but declined the re-ride option because of an injured riding hand.
Ramble On wasn’t the only bull to give its rider a tough time in round two, as the bulls repeated Friday night’s pattern of being difficult or outright bad in the chutes and throwing up cowboys anyway they could.
The PBR riders went over the bulls’ heads, out the back door, off the side and got run over by the bulls. Pike safety man James DeBord was kept busy, providing tow-service to ornery bulls that just didn’t want to leave out of the arena – sometimes more than once. Riders went airborne more often than not, although each one managed to leave the arena at least partially under their own power.
Clock ticking down to the Finals
With only two more BFTS events – Mohegan Sun in Connecticut Oct. 1-3, and then Columbus, Ohio the following weekend – before everyone heads to the PBR World Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada on Oct. 20-25, tension is building as hunting season for a world championship buckle is winding down.
The top three riders – Austin Meier, JB Mauney and Renato Nunes – left Charlottesville in the same order they arrived, but Mauney gained a little ground on Meier and distanced himself from Nunes at least by a few points, by the end of the weekend.
Mauney posted scores in rounds one and two, and finished eighth in the event. Meier finished 13th, and Nunes was 15th. All three went to the championship round, but none managed to make the 8-second buzzer in that round.
The action – including the “Final Five Showdown” for the top 10 riders – moves up the East Coast to Uncasville, Connecticut, where the Mohegan Sun Casino hosts a three-day BFTS event starting on Friday. With four rounds, and the “Showdown” bonus points, it could make for some last minute shuffling in the World Championship standings as the cowboys start packing for Las Vegas.
©2010 story and all photographs by Mary Rudloff