August is known to bring the dog days of summer, and with temperatures in Nashville hovering just above the hot and humid 100-degree mark, there was no mistaking that summer is in full swing.
But in the arena, riders in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) consider it the start of their fall season, as they race toward one of two goals: earning enough to make it to the PBR World Finals that are just slightly more than two months away, or winning the PBR World Championship at those finals.
Whichever was the goal, the riders on the PBR Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) tour turned in some hot rides. Those battling for the PBR’s closest points race for the season championship did their best to not lose any ground while trying to close in on current number one rider Renato Nunes.
And in round one of the PBR Jack Daniels Invitational, on Saturday, Aug. 14, the current number two – and former number one – rider closed the gap just a little bit. Austin Meier took round one, riding “Red Hot” (D&H Cattle Co.) for 89.5 points.
That ride – which included several big corrections by Meier to keep his ride alive – and Nunes’ buck off from Jr. (Jim Bollinger) at 6.3 seconds - helped Meier inch a little closer to his former number one spot.
Until Meier’s ride – third from the end of the night – the round belonged to the Aussie dancing machine, Ben Jones, who jumped out to the lead in section one, riding “Super Hou” (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls) for 88.75 points. That had Jones dancing on the shark cage, to the delight of fans, and it was only Meier that could finally pass Jones in the round standings, as Jones finished 2nd for the night.
Trying to find a permanent spot on the BFTS tour was Michael Manes, who finished third in the round, riding “I’ll Make You Famous” (Kooper Branum & Gene Baker) for 87.75 points.
Right behind him by only a quarter-point was the upstate New Yorker-turned-Oklahoman, Sevi Toturo, who finished 4th in the round on “RFD-TV” (Teague Bucking Bulls, LLC/RFDTV LLC).
Rounding out the top five was a tie at 87.25 points, between a very determined JB Mauney, who had a textbook perfect ride on “Outa Da Blue” (Circle T Ranch & Rodeo); and McKennon Wimberly, on another Circle T bull, “Shortcut.”
In 7th was two time world champ Chris Shivers, putting up 87 points on “Toe Breaker” (Jim Bollinger), followed in 8th by the hot-riding Brendon Clark, who rode “Outa Da Red” (Circle T) for 86.75 points. Clark has been burning up the PBR’s Touring Pro standings, earning his way back onto the BFTS tour.
Shane Proctor rode “Comet’s Gold” (Box K Cattle) for 86.5 points and 9th place in the round, followed by Caleb Sanderson, who is working his way back onto the tour, in 10th with his 96.25 points on Ghost Road (Box K).
A total of 15 of the 41 bull riders in the Jack Daniels Invitational posted qualified rides in the round. The other riders putting up scores were:
11th, Douglas Duncan, 86.0 points on “Segs the Juice” (Jeff Robinson Bucking Bulls);
12th/13th, Mike Lee on “Freakazoid” (Walton & Wagoner Bucking Bulls) and Ned Cross on “Bone Daddy” (K-C Bucking Bulls), at 84.5 points;
14th, Wiley Petersen, 82.5 points on “Scorpion King” (K-C Bucking Bulls);
And 15th, Valdiron de Oliveira, with 81. 75 points on “Yellow Dog” (Walton & Wagoner), after the bull had more loping hops and jumps than bucks.
Two re-rides were offered in the round, but neither rider could capitalize on the opportunity. Cord McCoy got a re-ride after “Player” (D&H Cattle) ran and jumped the length of the arena, leaving McCoy a long walk back to the chutes for his re-ride bull. He bucked off “RMEF Bugle” (Jeff Robinson) at the 5.2 second mark.
Travis Briscoe got a re-ride after “Cajun Blast” (Circle T Ranch & Rodeo) stalled in the chute, standing still when the gate swung open, to the amusement of the crowd, and never taking its first buck until almost the four second mark. Briscoe’s re-ride bull, “Loaded Gun” (Jeff Robinson), fired Briscoe off its back at the 4.1 second mark.
Tennessee bull rider Cody Nance gave the home-state crowd a big thrill, but not the kind either he or the crowd wanted. Nance, who just a few weeks ago won the BFTS San Antonio event, got hung up on “Stretch Armstrong” (D&H Cattle Co/Crazy G&E Bulls), and ended up under the bull for several jumps before the bull finally stepped on Nance, pulling him loose. Nance walked away from the hang up.
In an amusing moment – and probably a PBR first – Kasey Hayes bucked off “I’m Back” (Tony Sharp/Zaunbrecher) at the 6.0 second mark … and landed right on top of the “shark cage” in the center of the arena.
The rest of the night kept bull fighters Joe Baumgartner, Frank Newsom and Shorty Gorham busy, along with pick-up man James DeBord, as many of the bulls wanted their extra time in the spotlight after the ride, whether it was taking a few extra shots at the riders or bull fighters, sending everyone scurrying up the chute gates or taking a victory lap at the far end of the arena.
The action resumes at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, with round two and the championship round, in what is the first of the PBR’s back-to-back weekends in Tennessee, as they head into Memphis next weekend.