BALTIMORE, Maryland – Ask PBR bull rider Travis Briscoe what his favorite month is and odds are he will say January.
In January 2008, the 21-year old won three PBR Built Ford Tough Series events, in Worcester, Mass., Albany, N.Y. and Fresno, Calif.
He started 2009 off right, taking the first round of the first event of the new season, in 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, on Friday, Jan. 2.
Yeah, odds are the redhead from New Mexico would definitely pick January.
After round one of the “Baltimore Invitational” got off to a slightly sluggish start, with seven consecutive buck-offs, the riders got into gear and by the end of round one, 24 of the 45 riders put up scores.
Briscoe, who at the ripe old age of 21 appears to have shifted from “young gun” to veteran rider, led the way with his 90-pointer on Aerial Assault (Sonny Williams). The bull got as many cheers as the rider, though, as stock contractor Sonny Williams and his bunch of buckers are Maryland residents, only about an hour outside of Baltimore.
With a lot of new names appearing on the daysheet for Baltimore as this season starts off, it was definitely a night for veteran riders to show the youngsters how it is done. Following Briscoe in the points standing in the round was Kody Lostroh who, despite a less than his usual blazing hot PBR Finals, finished the year in fifth place. Lostroh is hot on Briscoe’s heels, posting 89.75 points on Lil Feller (Jeff Robinson).
JB Mauney, a definite favorite of fans in Baltimore, followed up his three winning rounds in Vegas at the finals with splitting third and fourth place in the round, with 89.5 points on Booger Butt (Robinson/Tedesco/Larry the Cable Guy/Broken N-N). He tied two-time world champ Chris Shivers, who showed the form that earned him the two titles, getting his 89.5 on another local bull, Superman (Williams/Roth). For Shivers fans who have been waiting to see the champ regain his winning form, Shivers continued his high scoring riding that started at the PBR Finals with a commanding ride on a tough bucking bull, as this Superman was determined to fly.
Rounding out the top five in the opening round in Baltimore was PBR World Finals winner Robson Palermo. Palermo thrilled the crowd to the tune of 89 points on Full Throttle (Mike Solomon), and added another $5,000 to his more than $300,000 won at the 2008 PBR Finals, taking the Enterprise Ride With the Best check home with him as well.
Number four man heading into the new season, Valdiron de Oliveira, took sixth in the round, with 88 points on Wrangler Magic (Jerome & Sandi Scallions). Hot off an impressive World Finals performance, Texan Zack Brown scored 87.75 points on Wrangler Big Rig (Robinson/Broken N-N/C&D Bulls/Skyhawk Rugs). That score was enough to keep Brown in the top ten in the round, splitting 7th, 8th and 9th places with LJ Jenkins, who rode Why Not Minot (Chad Berger/Roger Ward) and Shane Proctor on Chance (Teague Bucking Bulls).
Closing out the top ten was Mighty Mike White, who showed where the “mighty” part comes from, making a great recovery after being way out of shape for the first two seconds of the ride. White earned his 87.5 points by not only hanging on to I’m A Crook (Teague Bucking Bulls), but getting back to center and finishing the ride strong.
The other qualified rides in the round were:
11th & 12th, at 87.25 points: Colby Yates aboard Cooper (Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Julie Rosen) in his third match-up against the bull and Brendon Clark, riding Rebound (Jeff Robinson) for the first qualified ride of the night.
13th belonged to Kasey Hayes, riding Chief of Staff (C Berger/J Rosen), for 87 points.
14th & 15th spots were shared by Nick Landreneau on Countersink (Williams/Roth) and Renato Nunes on another Maryland bull, Final Approach (Sonny Williams).
16th was fan favorite Ross Coleman, who scored 86.5 on Eviction (Robinson/Tedesco), a bull that didn’t have a lot of kick but is a really fast spinner, working against Coleman, one of the taller riders in the PBR.
17th was 2004 world champ Mike Lee, who also followed Coleman out of the chutes, riding Booker T (Teague) for 86.25 points.
18th, Kolt Donaldson rode One Eyed Willie, another Sonny Williams hometown bull, for 86.0 points.
19th went to Nebraska’s Dustin Elliott, who scored 85.75 on Mean Machine (C Berger/Struve/Rosen), after Mean Machine gave Elliott a tough time in the chute, including rearing up over the crossbar twice.
20th was Ednei Caminhas who, after announcing his retirement last year, rescinded it and showed up in Baltimore to prove he still has some good rides to go. Caminhas got his season started right, looking strong on Lil Wicked (C Berger/Struve) for 85 points. It was a rematch between the two, after Caminhas rode the bull for 86 points last year in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Finishing the night with low scores, but qualified rides nonetheless, were:
21st, Ryan McConnell with 83.25 points on Catie Done It (C Berger/R Ward);
22nd, local favorite in Baltimore, Virginia’s Billy Robinson, with 82.75 points on Cowboy Cut (C Berger/C Struve);
23rd, newly crowned 2008 PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi, on Catie Did It (Berger/Struve). The bull didn’t commit to a spin until nearly halfway through the ride, but Marchi made the best of it and took his first step toward a repeat title.
24th was Canadian Aaron Roy, with 81.25 points on Wrong Face (Cary McNeil). Roy took everyone by surprise at the 2008 PBR World Finals, appearing to come out of nowhere to ride strong through the entire championship.
Also noteworthy in round one of the Baltimore Invitational:
Bull fighter Joe Baumgartner made his return, after a nasty ankle injury knocked him out of commission during the first weekend of the PBR Finals in October.
Luke Snyder didn’t make the 8-second mark aboard Hammered (Davis/DX3) but he continues to set new records, as Baltimore is his 238th consecutive event, having never missed a PBR BFTS event since his rookie debut in 2001.
Australian Greg Potter made his return, after a seven month layoff for shoulder surgery. Potter stayed aboard Dismal Swamp Jack (McNeil/Weeks) for 4.4 seconds.
There were few injuries apparent during the round. Kolt Donaldson dislocated his shoulder when hitting the ground after riding One Eyed Willie (Sonny Williams) , in Friday night's round and is considered questionable to ride on Saturday. The injury came not from the bull ride, on which Donaldson scored 86.0 points, but from the position he was in when he hit the ground after coming off the bull. Leonil Santos had to be helped out of the arena by the sports medicine team after Blueberry Buckle (Davis/Wilson) bucked him off and then ran him over. No update was provided by the end of the event. Luke Snyder appeared hurting and shaken after his buckoff, but left under his own power.
Three rerides in the round went to 2008 Rookie of the Year Reese Cates, whose bull, River City Dreams (McNeil/Weeks/Porter) gave a choppy stop-and-start trip, popular veteran Wiley Petersen, whose bull Skinner (Berger/Struve) didn’t wait for the 8-second buzzer, coming to a total stop in the arena just past the 6-second mark, and Cord McCoy, whose bull, The Senator (C Berger/Rosen) stumbled during his ride. None of the three were able to capitalize on their reride options, bucking off Live Wire, Fully Loaded and Gold Bell Wine respectively.
The action continues in rounds two and the championship round on Saturday night, Jan. 3, as fans wait to see which rider will jump out to the lead as the number one bull rider for the 2009 season.