Behind the chutes: Portland

Highlights

  • Jordan Hupp went into Portland relaxed, and left ranked eighth in the world.
  • Valdiron de Oliveira still leads the standings, but Austin Meier and Luke Snyder are close behind.
  • Train Wreck has fallen on J.B. Mauney twice. Last weekend, he stayed on his feet, and helped Mauney to a tie for the round win.

In This Article

PORTLAND, Ore. - It all started with a good breakfast and a relaxing flight from Texas to Oregon.

Friday morning, Jordan Hupp and his wife Philicia had time stop and have oatmeal and a healthy protein pack on their way to the airport in Dallas. From that point, the 26-year-old never felt rushed as he rode all four bulls and won the third Built Ford Tough Series event of his career.

"My wife took me to the airport and we stopped and ate breakfast and it was really enjoyable," said Hupp, after winning the Portland Invitational on Sunday afternoon. "I felt great when I got into town.

"You have to be able to work in all conditions, but it makes it so much easier when you can be relaxed."

The win completely turns around his season.

To this point, Hupp had ridden only one bull in the past two events, but a 4-for-4 performance at the Rose Garden vaulted him all the way to eighth in the world standings, and well above the pending cut line.

"Huge, oh, this is huge," he said. "You know it's there, but you don't think on it and dwell on it because that's the wrong thing to do. … I had time, but I knew the time was now."

Hupp earned the last of 13 qualified rides in the opening round when he covered Wild Child for 86.5 points. Though he had to work hard to make the 8-second whistle, he had the intermission to regain his focus and concentrate on Cooper Tires Wild & Out.

He was one of only two riders to get a score in the first short round.

'Huge. Oh, this is huge.'

His 85.75 points gave him 172.25 points at the end of the first of two days, and he trailed only newcomer Marco Eguche, whose 90.5-point effort on Priceless gave him 174 points on two bulls.

Hupp added 84.75 points to his total after just barely making it to the whistle in Round 3, but his effort on Amy's Pet secured the second pick in the bull draft for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. He took Lincoln Electric's Bring It, and after Eguche bucked off Buckey, Hupp claimed the win with 86.5 points.

Rounding out the Top 5 in the average were Eguche (261.25), Ryan McConnel (260.5), L.J. Jenkins (259) and Austin Meier (253.25).

"It's very hard to win an event, and everything has to come together perfectly," said Hupp, who added that he has bigger plans than simply making the first cut. "People don't realize how much stuff does have to come together, and I feel like it came together perfectly for me."

Although the pressure is off - he's now only 570.75 points off the No. 1 spot in the world standings - Hupp said the key is to continue competing with a sense of urgency as if every BFTS event were his last.

NEWS & NOTES

RISING: With the third pick in the final round, Luke Snyder was one qualified ride from being the No. 1 ranked bull rider in the world for the first time in his 12-year career. His sixth-place finish in Portland still moved him from sixth to third in the world standings.

Austin Meier finished fifth in the average to move from fifth in the overall standings to second behind Valdiron de Oliveira, who, despite competing with a left shoulder (riding arm) separation sustained at a Touring Pro Division event in Denver, predicted a BFTS event win next week in Sacramento, Calif.

Oliveira was 0-for-2 this week and grimaced in pain after both buckoffs. He leads Meier by only 80.25 points and Snyder by 130 points. After three of 28 events, the Top 7 riders are all within 500 points of the No. 1 position.

LOTS OF SPRING, NO FALL: J.B. Mauney laughed when asked if he was a glutton for punishment. Train Wreck had fallen on him in their previous two matchups, yet Saturday night he selected the same bull in the draft for Round 3 of the Portland Invitational.

"No," he said. "Somebody said that last night, they said, 'What are you thinking?' He's a good bull. I saw him in Denver the other day and he was right there around to the left and bucked hard, so I figured I'd take him.

"I been on him once when he did stay on his feet, and we were 88 or something, so hopefully that's the way it's going to go again today. He's getting older and he fell on me a couple times, but that's the way it goes. I mean, hopefully he doesn't do it today."

Train Wreck stayed on his feet Sunday, and Mauney stayed on him to split the round win with 89.5 points in qualifying for the championship round.

Mauney, who is competing with a wrist injury to his riding hand, is ranked 10th in the world. After riding the past two weeks with what could be a broken bone, he'll be in Dallas on Thursday afternoon to be examined by Dr. Tandy Freeman.

"It's not bad," he said. "They have it taped to where it works, I guess."

LOWER PICK, HIGHER FINISH: L.J. Jenkins was happy to have ridden his way into the final round, but admitted he hates being near the bottom of the draft in a round with as much bull power as the championship round. He fully intended to select Asteroid if he was still available with the eighth selection.

Mauney took him with the fifth pick, though, and Jenkins took King of Hearts instead. On his way to the chutes, he said, "I still got the one I really wanted." He won the round with 89.5 points and finished fourth in the average with 259 points on three of four for his first Top 5 finish of 2012.

colby helmet interior
Colby Yates prepares to leave the chute in his new headgear in Portland, Ore.

HARD HEAD: Colby Yates is happy with his new In-Vinci BULL helmet except for one issue: "I have to figure out how to see through it." He could see perfectly wearing it around his home and hotel room, but as he joked, "I hadn't been on a bull."

Yates likes to keep his chin tucked, and when he does, he can see fine. But once he's leaned back or out of position, he can't see the bull through the eyeholes. The other holes in the mask are a bit too small, so this week he's going to call and either have the mask holes re-cut or switch to the same motocross-like mask being used by Meier. He'll likely have to wait for a new mask to be made, but is continuing to wear it like it is in the meantime.

Saturday night, some of the riders who are wearing the helmet compared notes. It's universally liked, but a lot of the riders are also probably going to make some adjustments going forward.

Yates raved about the fact that it doesn't pop off. "Oh no, it's not coming off," he said. "I can't even get it off when I want it to come off."

NO RUST FOR BERGER'S BULLS: PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert promised the bulls would be the best they've ever been in Portland, and as a whole, the pen lived up to expectations. All four of the biggest stock contractors - Jeff Robinson, Chad Berger, D&H Cattle and Circle T Ranch - were in the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

Berger was nervous when he arrived in town Friday. It's the first time his bulls had been out since the World Finals, and a few hadn't bucked since the Columbus, Ohio, event back in early October. "They're going to be a little sluggish and rusty," said Berger with a smile. "We'll see how they do."

Smackdown was marked 45 points in the championship round. He easily bucked off Paulo Lima and was only three-quarters of a point behind Asteroid.

LOSTROH'S LEG:  "I've been better," said Kody Lostroh, after it was officially announced that he would not be competing Sunday, "but I can't complain. I'm not lying in a hospital with a broken femur like Pistol (Robinson)." Lostroh was the last rider in Round 1 and had to be helped from the arena after being stepped on by T-Rex.

"A bull stood on me, so you can use your imagination," said Lostroh, who took the full weight of T-Rex on the outside of his left thigh. He wasn't sure exactly what happened, but in the fray, either the bull or a bullfighter stepped on his chaps. "I couldn't get away and I was pinned where I was, so at that point your mind starts to get a little nervous at the fact that you can't get away and the bull is spinning on top of you."

'A bull stood on me, so you can use your imagination.'

He added, "Whenever we're in a bind, it's get to your feet and get away - anything but laying flat on the ground. As long as you're moving, trying to get up and anything but laying flat."

Lostroh said he's not sure how his femur held up, but he's glad it did. No decision has been made about this week's event in Sacramento, Calif. "We really hadn't talked about next week," he said, "but I think it should be all right. I'll ice and stretch it a bunch this week, and you know, do what I have to do.

"If it works out next week, it works out, and if it doesn't, I'll be back the week after that."

CANADIANS DWINDLE: A record five Canadians were in New York for the first BFTS event of 2012, but that number was cut to four for the past two weeks, and that figure could now be cut in half. Tyler Thomson is slated for knee surgery and will miss four to six months, and Sunday afternoon, Aaron Roy said, "I might be out for a little bit with surgery."

Roy's left knee has been injured since before he even made his BFTS debut, and he initially injured his right knee last year in Indianapolis, but now he's thought to have torn the meniscus in the right knee. He's scheduled to see a specialist.

The hope now is that the specialist can scope the injury, which means Roy would be out a week or two, but if it requires surgery, it'll be substantially longer. According to Roy, after speaking with Freeman, he's lasted as long as he can without having it corrected.

Ty Pozzobon and Dusty Ephrom have also been competing with injuries. Pozzobon has a right knee injury and Ephrom is contending with back issues. "I don't know what it is," said Roy, when asked about the series of injuries. "I don't know if we're trying too hard or what it is."

JACOBY BACK: After missing several BFTS events with post-concussion syndrome, Elliott Jacoby made his first qualified ride since last August in Tulsa, Okla. He covered Norris for 86.25 points in the opening round, and was all smiles afterward as he high-fived several riders.

Jacoby tried on a few occasions to return to competition, but said, "My balance wasn't what it needed to be." He added that he was "pissed" having to sit at home and not have an opportunity to make a living. He was equally nervous about the long-term effects of his health.

"I was worried about that, too," he said. "It wasn't good."

IN THE BIG LEAGUES: Although he was 0-for-2 in Portland, newcomer Bonner Bolton was glad to finally make his BFTS debut. The Texas native had to postpone his two previous call-ups because of injuries. A couple of years ago, he missed his first opportunity when he tore the bicep on his right (riding) arm.

"I tore it off the bone and sat out for a year, came back and about another year later tore ligaments in my riding hand, so it's been a tough time," he said. "I was about to make the tour both times, but I'm real thankful to be here now.

"Right now I'm just thankful to be here among all the great riders and bulls."

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