Having recently witnessed the birth of his daughter, Kody Lostroh has been inspired in and out of the arena.
Lostroh and his wife, Candace, welcomed Sheridan Diella Lostroh on the evening of Friday, July 27.
Two weeks later, Lostroh captured his first event win, in Tulsa, Okla., since winning in Anaheim, Calif., early in the 2010 season.
"Experiencing stuff like that always helps not only in riding bulls," he said afterward, "but in every area of life because it breaks stuff down to what's important and what we're really about. Sometimes I get too caught up in the riding bulls thing. When it's a bull and I'm trying to ride him for eight seconds. It's a pretty simply concept."
Lostroh covered three of four bulls at the Express Classic.
He was the first rider out of the chutes, on Friday, in the opening round. He rode Joker for 86.5 points and then moved to second in the average when covered Jack Daniel's After Party in the first short round for 90.25 points.
Only he and Chase Outlaw entered Saturday night's final rounds a perfect 2-for-2. Outlaw was 178 points on two followed by Lostroh, who had 176.75 points.
Outlaw bucked off in Round 3, while Lostroh took one bull lead in the average when rode Bad Blake for 87 points. That would prove to be the only points he needed to win after all 10 riders in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round came down shy of the 8-second whistle.
"It's been a long time," said an elated Lostroh.
"It feels great just to have this buckle, but it feels terrible to fall off my last one. That's not how I like to win. It's kind of anticlimactic for me, but the bottom line is I'll take the points and I'll dang sure take the money."
The win vaulted Lostroh to 18th in the world standings and the more than $40,000 that he won put him at $119,007.42 for the season. He's now 13 in the qualifier standings and all but assured himself a spot in the World Finals.
However, as gratifying as it is to win in the arena, Lostroh's attention quickly turned to fatherhood.
"I feel great," said Lostroh, who with his wife are getting used to their new schedule, "and alive is the right word.
"Just to sit there and hold her for the first time and cry like a little baby--I can't put words to it--it's awesome and I'm just to be able to do this and support my family."
He later put his personal and professional life into perspective when he said, "Having a baby was better than winning a world title, but I worked my whole life to be a World Champion and I'm still going to pursue that dream, but most important now is working the rest of my life to be a great father."
Just like old times: It was the ninth time in the past two years Bushwacker and Asteroid were in the same Championship Round, but only second time this season and in both cases the reigning World Champion Bull won--at least on the judges' score cards.
Bushwacker was the high-marked bull of the event with 46.25 points followed closely by the 46 points Asteroid earned.
"I'm past the jitter point right now," said Kent Cox, who has hauled and handled Bushwacker for four years, "but definitely had some before we bucked him. I thought he looked really sharp."
Bushwacker was competing for the first time since mid-March in Kansas City. He was slated to buck in Pueblo, Colo., but was held out after his back, right hock was swollen for no known reason. He rested all spring and summer before being hauled to Tulsa.
Cox along with Bushwacker's owners -- Julio Moreno and Richard Oliveira -- all thought he had looked sluggish in Arlington, Texas, after being off following surgery to remove bone chips in both back legs in early January. Cox worried he might look sluggish again after being off over four months.
"I think he was a little crisper, a litter sharper," said Cox, after watching him buck off Mason Lowe in 2.31 seconds. Cox said the plan is to have Bushwacker in San Antonio next weekend, but he will evaluate him during the week "just to make sure that hock doesn't swell back up."
Cox added, "At this point, we're happy to compete and stay sound."
Welcome to the Big Time: Newcomer Lowe made a good first impression when he rode Super Cool Cat for 87 points in the opening round, which in turn split second, third and fourth place in what was his BFTS debut. That earned him a trip to the first short round, where he nearly made the whistle on RMEF Gunpowder & Lead be coming down at 6.79 seconds.
The 18-year-old bucked off his third round bull before selecting the reigning World Champion Bull with the eighth pick in the bull draft. He chose Bushwacker over Rock & Roll and Quiet Riot. Bushwacker bucked him off in 2.31 seconds en route to scoring 46.25 points.
Also making their BFTS debuts were Josh Ehlers, Cody Johnson and Tanner Byrne. The other three newcomers were a combined 0-for-6 at their first BFTS.
The streak of eight consecutive Top 10 finishes came to an unceremonious end for L.J. Jenkins. The 25-year-old was 1-for-2 and finished the event in Tulsa by splitting 12th and 13th in the average.
The streak of eight consecutive Top 10 finishes can to an unceremonious end for L.J. Jenkins. The 25 year old was 1-for-2 and finished the event in Tulsa by splitting 12th and 13th in the average.
Because of an injury to Ben Jones that kept him out of the Championship Round and the fact that Chance Roberts, who finished 11th, was nowhere to be found during the intermission Jenkins actually the 10 rider represented in the bull draft. He did not make a pick, but was instead seemingly left with Quiet Riot and one last chance to earn a qualified ride and, perhaps, move into the Top 10 of the event average.
However, Roberts made his way to the back of the chutes prior to the bull being loaded and competed instead of Jenkins.
Injury Report: Jones, who finished fifth in the average, in Tulsa, was poised to select Bushwacker in the bull draft for the Championship Round when Dr. Tandy Freeman sent a surprising text message that read: "Ben Jones is out of competition in the Championship Round in Tulsa after sustaining a lower abdominal strain in the 3rd round. He is question able for San Antonio."
Moments later, he sent a second message, "Change of presumptive diagnosis--fractured pubis (pelvis)." No other information is available regarding Jones's injury other than he will be further evaluated this week.
According to another message from Dr. Freeman, "Shane Proctor sustained a right shoulder (riding arm) 'burner' during his 3rd round ride in Tulsa. He is probable for San Antonio."
On Friday night, Dr. Freeman reported, "Fabiano Vieira bruised his right calf when he was stepped on after dismounting his 1st round bull in Tulsa. He is probable for subsequent rounds."
Another Classic Matchup: The opening round of the Express Classic was just that: an ABBI Classic round featuring the best three and four year old bulls. To this point, the most talked about Classic bull had been Shepherd Hills Tested.
Prior to Tulsa, he won all but two Classic events--Ft. Worth, Texas, and Stephenville, Texas--and was heavily favored this weekend.
He wound up splitting fourth and fifth in the round with Jet Set. They scored 87.75 points to finish behind Mickey Mouse (90.25), Fairy Tattoo (89.75) and Carney Man (88). He still remains a heavy favorite to win this year's Classic title.
Unlike the four judges used by the PBR, the ABBI uses a six-judge system in which they discard the highest and lowest scores in determining the bull score.
"I worked my whole life to be a World Champion and I'm still going to pursue that dream, but most important now is working the rest of my life to be a great father." -Kody Lostroh
Back Seat Buckers: Long Shot 2 won the second of four Back Seat Buckers events with 92.5 points, but it was a big weekend for Excel LaFayette, Jr., who had two bulls finish in the Top 10.
The Shadow Man was second with 89.5 points and was the top performer of the Top 10 bulls from the first event back in Pueblo, Colo., where he split fifth and sixth with 88 points. LaFayette and his wife Josephine also watched as Shaft scored 87 points, in Tulsa, to split sixth, seventh and eighth place. He was 12 in Pueblo.
The only other bull as consistent as The Shadow Man and Shaft was Trauma 1, who scored 87 points in both Pueblo and Tulsa. The Pueblo winner, Booger Red Skoal, finished Tulsa in 72nd place. The only other Top 10 from the Pueblo event to finish in the Top 20, in Tulsa, was Lock N Load. After splitting 10th/11th last time, he was 17th this weekend.
Cox, who along with Joe Baumgartner and Dean Wilson, oversee the handling and training of the Back Seat Buckers program estimated that, as a group, the two-year-old bulls were about 150 pounds bigger than they were in mid-May--some more, some less--and that on average they'll gain another 200 to 250 pounds between now and the Finals.
Hand in a bind: Arkansas native Justin Koon is competing with not only an injury could impact this season, but the rest of his professional career. Koon is in the midst of a career-defining year, but is now dealing with a significant injury to his left riding hand.
However, that didn't stop him from selecting Asteroid with the seventh pick in the bull draft. Koon said he thought Asteroid and Bushwacker were the "more honest" of the four bulls left and took Asteroid based on how he felt in their previous match up. He said this time he "was in a hurry" to scoot up and nod his head, which got him back on his pockets and he was promptly bucked off in 2.19 seconds compared to the 6.7 seconds he lasted in Houston, Texas.
According to the 29 year old from Grapevine, "There's a conglomeration of stuff going on in (his right hand). … I don't even know what all." One has to do with a torn tendon behind his thumb, but he also some cartilage damage on the top of the same hand.
Koon consulted one doctor at the start of the summer break, who suggested surgery. However, he said after speaking with Dr. Freeman, he'll forego having it surgically repaired. Koon said Dr. Freeman indicated that in some cases if the tendon becomes too tight the rider would be unable to get his hand in a bull rope.
Instead Koon is working with Dr. Freeman and his staff to get through the 2012 season and assess the injury in November.
Koon is currently ranked 13th in the world standings and split second, third and fourth in the opening round of the Express Classic. He attended only TPD event--Springdale, Ark.--during the break from the BFTS and that was only because he was part of the Ford Invasion promotion, but he never made it out of the chute.
"I had been resting it," said Koon, is unsure of his treatment plan in November. "It was like it hadn't even healed."
All in the Family: This weekend marks a first for the PBR. With Jesse Byrne bullfighting and his younger brother Tanner having qualified for the BFTS with a one-event exemption after winning a 3D Bull Riding event in Canada, it's the first time brother combination fought bulls and rode at the same BFTS event.
Earlier this year, Jesse was bullfighting at the same BFTS event in which his father Ryan Byrne was working as a judge. Jesse is the first Canadian-born bullfighter to work the World Finals, while the elder Byrne was once the first bullfighter to work the National Finals Rodeo.
Ryan was on hand, in Tulsa, to watch his two sons. However, for obvious reasons, Ryan cannot judge an event in which his youngest son is competing as a bull rider.
Coming to America: The next cut will take place following next weekend's BFTS event in San Antonio, Texas. Three Brazilian riders--Edevaldo da Silva Ferreira, Eneas Barbosa and Ademir Candido da Silva--are atop the alternate standings, but have not yet come the United States. They continue to compete at PBR Brazil events and would significantly impact the alternate standings when they do decide to head north.
Two of the three have already earned enough money to compete at the World Finals and are expected to compete on the BFTS at some point, but no arrival date has been confirmed. Eduardo Aparecido Silva is fifth on the alternate list and would also earn a spot in the BFTS draw if and when he decides to come to the U.S.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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