CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (September 24, 2010) – The University of Virginia turned into Cowboy Central, as the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) brought the Built Ford Tough Series tour to the John Paul Jones Arena on the college campus.
Friday, Sept. 24, saw nearly half the riders put up qualified rides in round one of the Charlottesville Invitational. It also saw a number of cowboys limping, being helped or in one case, carried out of the arena. The full moon may have been last night, but the bulls were showing the effects in round one, as close to half the riders had trouble with their bulls, either in the chutes before they were able to nod their heads, or after their rides ended in the arena.
With only two more tour stops after this one before the top 40 riders head to Las Vegas for the PBR World Finals, every ride counts, and getting sidelined by injuries could knock someone out of their place on the World Finals roster.
By the end of the night, three riders shared the top spot in the round, one inched his way closer to number one in the “Final Five Showdown,” and two sizable buck-off streaks came to an end.
At 87.5 points, a three way tie for the top of the round’s standings was split between birthday boy Brendon Clark (who turned 30 today), reigning world champion Kody Lostroh (returning but scoreless last weekend, after a 7-month layoff for surgery), and Tennessean Cody Nance, who was 18th in qualifier dollars heading into the round.
The round-topping scores were three of 19 in the round, including Lostroh and Clark who set the bar high as the first two riders out of the chutes in the round. Lostroh kicked off the night on “Outa Da Blue” (Circle T Ranch & Rodeo), followed by Clark on “Boone & Crockett” (Box K Cattle). Nance’s matching 87.5 came in the third flight, aboard “Off the Hook” (Davis Rodeo Ranch).
Just a half point behind, at 87.0, three more riders split spots 4 through 6 in the round. Ned Cross - who sits in the number 22 on the BFTS, but 10th in qualifier dollars - rode “Riddle Me This” (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve). Aussie Ben Jones - who has been riding like a man possessed including his first BFTS event win ever last month in Nashville – matched the score, riding “Uncle Carl” (Chad Berger / Dan Herner). Pistol Robinson came out firing aboard “Hou’s Ya Daddy” (Jerome Davis/ Ellis/ Hiatt Bucking Bulls), solid throughout including the reverse at the 6-second mark.
Jody Newberry broke the pattern, holding down the seventh spot as a solo act, at 86.5 points, on “Segs the Juice” (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls) early in the night’s round.
The eighth place spot saw Ednei Caminhas finally break a painfully long streak of 22 consecutive buckoffs. The 2002 world champion scored 86.25 points on “Short Cut” (Circle T).
Current number one rider Austin Meier kept his lead on JB Mauney and Renato Nunes intact, taking ninth spot with 86.0 points on “Lucky Toad” (Davis Rodeo Ranch).
He didn’t gain much ground, though, as both Mauney and Nunes – currently in 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the world champion race – each covered their bull in the round. Mauney rode “Buckshot” (Kerr & Wagoner Bucking Bulls) for 85.5 points and 12th place in the round. Nunes put up 84.75 points on “Evil Repeat” (Walton & Wagoner Bucking Bulls), finishing the round in 14th.
None of the three were able to use the “Final Five Showdown” after round one to their advantage, as they each bucked off their bull. Nunes came closest of the three, riding “RFD-TV” (Teague Bucking Bulls) for 6.2 seconds. Mauney or Meier didn’t make the 2-second mark, Meier called for slapping “Boot Legger” at 1.2 seconds. Mauney’s ride was more dramatic, and definitely more painful, when at 1.2 seconds he helicoptered over the head of “Chick’n Fried” (Dakota/Berger/Struve), but his hand held in the rope, and Mauney repeatedly banged into the bull’s head and horns. He looked battered and bruised, but left the arena under his own power.
The “Final Five Showdown” had only two riders gain any ground. Mike Lee, who has quietly slid into the number five position in the world champion standings, took the Showdown on “Bad Moon” (Circle T), for 89.5 points.
The focus Lee showed in the “Showdown” could have helped him in round one, when a solid ride came to a quick end when a mental error had Lee grab the tail of his rope at 7.8 seconds.
McKennon Wimberly also made good on his bonus ride, covering “Hot Blooded” (Dakota/Berger/Struve) to exactly the 8-second mark before going off the bull head first. He scored 84.25 points.
Skeeter Kingsolver, who at number 11, made it into the “Showdown” when Travis Briscoe was sidelined for the rest of the weekend with a concussion, was unable to capitalize on his unexpected bonus ride, with Kingsolver coming off “Very Smart Remedy” (Jeff Robinson) at 3.6 seconds. Kingsolver was already banged up and bruised, after coming down in round one, landing on the small of his back after coming off a big-leaping “Prosecutor” (Lufkin Ranch & Rodeo) at 3.6 seconds.
Briscoe was knocked out of both the “Showdown” and the rest of the weekend when his wild round one ride on “Bando’s Wild and Wreckless” (Dakota/Berger/Struve) lived up to its billing. At the 7.4 second mark Briscoe went head to head with the bull, then followed it by somersaulting off over the front of the bull.
The scariest wreck of the night was Ross Coleman, who was knocked out cold when his head crashed into the dirt when he came off “Lightning” (Lufkin) at 2.0 seconds. Coleman was carried out of the arena, motionless, on a backboard. It was later announced that he had regained consciousness and had suffered a concussion. No status update for the rest of his weekend was given.
The rest of the qualified rides in round one were:
Splitting 10th and 11th place, at 85.75 points, Jason O’Hearn and Valdiron de Oliveira. O’Hearn rode “Billy the Kid” (Gary Hershey); and Oliveira ended a 8-rider long dry spell when he covered “Alpha Male” (Jeff Robinson).
13th place, Silvano Alves, with 85.25 points on “Stiffler” (Robert Melton Bucking Bulls).
15th place, Harve Stewart, with 84.5 points on “Knot Head” (Gary Hershey).
16th place, Colby Yates, with 84.25 points on “Speck” (Dakota/Berger/Struve).
17th place, Paulo Lima, with 84 points on “Pushing Cotton” (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger).
18th place, Jordan Hupp scoring 83.25 points on his reride bull, “Space Chimp” (Circle T), after his first bull, “Carolina Cat” (Walton & Wagoner) fell down as it left the chute.
19th place, Cody Campbell, scoring 81.25 points on “Roll On” (Dakota/Berger/Struve).
Round two and the championship round will take place at the JPJ Arena tomorrow (Saturday), Sept. 25, beginning at 7:50 p.m. The PBR remains east of the Mississippi River for the rest of the 2010 season, with next weekend with three days at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, followed by a two-dayer Oct. 9-10, to close out the season in Columbus, Ohio, on the way to the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada on Oct. 20-24.
Story and all photos © 2010 mary rudloff