SACRAMENTO, Calif. ― Two weeks ago Guilherme Marchi was ranked outside of the Top 35.
That was then and this is now.
After a pair of Top 10 finishes, including a Built Ford Tough Series win this past weekend in Sacramento, Calif., the 2008 World Champion is back in the Top 10 of the world standings.
Marchi said he was "so happy to win this event and that's what I needed to push me up."
He said he hopes the two-week turnaround to close out the first month of the season is enough to "keep me going." Marchi then added, "The year just started ― just the fifth event ― and I wish I could win again."
When he talks about winning again, he could just as easily be talking about another world title. Four times he's finished second in the world standings, including last season, which wasn't bad for a 30-year-old ― he turns 31 in July ― who has described himself as "getting old and getting slow."
"This event comes at a great time for me," Marchi said. "I start to believe in myself, I start to ride better, I start to draw good bulls and I worked really hard at home."
Marchi made three solid rides in the event to win.
He split second with Billy Robinson and Jordan Hupp on Friday night with 85 points each and then split sixth and seventh in Round 2 with Emilio Resende.
"This event comes at a great time for me. I start to believe in myself"
His 171 points on two bulls edged out J.B. Mauney and Aaron Roy, who both came in with 170, to earn the first pick in the bull draft for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, where Marchi took Showboat.
Despite never seeing the bull prior to Saturday night, he selected him after talking with Silvano Alves, Renato Nunes and Ben Jones. All three said the bull would turn back to the right as soon as he cleared the gate.
"That's what he did," Marchi said.
Brendon Clark, Alves and Roy all covered their championship round bulls, which pushed Marchi down to fourth by the time he climbed into the chute to close the event.
The right-hander rode Showboat for 88.75 points and comfortably won the event with 259.75 points.
Roy finished second with 252.5 followed by Alves (248.75) and Clark (246). Mauney rounded out the Top 5 with 170.
"That's what I used to do, ride all my bulls and be strong," said Marchi, who added that he feels confident and is having fun.
He concluded by saying he will immediately prepare and focus his attention on next weekend's event in Anaheim, Calif., "I'm going to keep training hard at home," he said.
Battling Asteroid: Mike Lee said he recognized how weird it was to feel so calm before his matchup with Asteroid on Friday night during the 15/15 Bucking Battle, but, then again, the Decatur, Texas, native didn't realize an additional $33,000 bonus was also up for grabs until he arrived at Sleep Train Arena for the Sacramento Invitational.
"I don't know, shoot, I was really calm today," said Lee, who added, "It felt like I was in the practice pen."
Lee was the last out of the 15/15 and lasted 3.4 seconds before the reigning World Champion Bull put him on the dirt. Asteroid was marked 46 points and tied with Lightmaker's Rango as the high-marked bull of the round.
A couple seconds into the ride, Lee thought he might have a chance to ride him all the way to the whistle.
But just as quickly, everything seemed to change.
"He landed on all four feet," Lee said, "and then it felt like I did 180 to the right and he's real athletic. I got set down just a tad and if I would have just bent my hips just a little bit more I might have made that corner. Shoot, I felt really good today and he just got the better of me."
Lee deadpanned, "He's pretty good at bucking."
Lee wasn't joking when he said he and Cody Nance felt hungry on their way to the arena and stopped to buy some cake.
"Yeah, I was feeling kind of hungry," he explained, "so I bought some sausage and some cake. It was pretty good."
However, that's where the story about a piece of cake takes a strange international turn.
"It was a German place and the lady was real nice," Lee continued. "She wanted to adopt us and take us home, I think. She just kept on talking to us. She was a real nice lady. She tried to escape Russia because of the hardship over there. She's really enjoying living over here in the States and being free ― free to do what you want to do and free to be what you want to be."
No one's sure if she's German or Russian, but one thing is for certain: an American and a Brazilian won the 15/15 on Saturday night. Kody Lostroh and Agnaldo Cardozo split the round with 89.75 points each.
Cardozo led off the round by making the whistle on Buckey, while Lostroh rode Meat Hook.
Alves stays on top:The top three riders in the world - Alves, Shane Proctor and Mauney - covered their first two bulls and found themselves in the championship round this weekend.
Mauney entered the final round second in the average with a chance to win, while Proctor was fifth and only one point behind Mauney. Alves was seventh, but nine full points behind Mauney until he rode Woody for 87.75 points.
Alves finished third in the average to extend his lead over Proctor to 491.29 points and 575.42 over Mauney, who both bucked off short of the whistle in the final round. Alves is the two-time defending back-to-back World Champion and this is the first season in which he's been atop the world standings for the entire first month of the season.
Setting the draw: Beginning this weekend in Anaheim, the draw will be set using the Top 35 riders in the world standings. The standings will be set Tuesday afternoon once the Touring Pro Division events have been updated.
However, following this past weekend Caleb Sanderson, Austin Meier and Ryan Dirteater are outside the Top 35 and will not be seated in the draw for the next BFTS event. Three other riders, who qualified for last season's World Finals, moved into the Top 35 in Sacramento.
Clark finished fourth to move up to 19th in the world standings, while Stormy Wing, 32, and Harve Stewart, 35, are awaiting the TPD results. L.J. Jenkins will have three injury exemptions to move from 79th to the Top 35.
Cody Johnson will have one injury exemption upon his return.
Fabiano Vieira will have four exemptions when he returns from his injury and Valdiron de Oliveira will have five injury exemptions. Oliveira is believed to be planning a return to competition in two weeks for the three-day event in St. Louis, Mo., while Vieira is hoping to return a week later in Kansas City.
Justin Koon is out for the foreseeable future and may not return until 2014.
Several riders who did not qualify for last year's Finals are currently ranked in the Top 35, including Proctor, 2, Sean Willingham, 5, Billy Robinson, 13, Nathan Schaper, 17, Brant Atwood, 22, Joao Vieira, 30, Jason Malone, 31, Reese Cates, 33, and Troy Wilkinson, 34.
INJURY UPDATES: The most notable injury this weekend involved Robson Palermo, who dislocated both shoulders on Friday night. On Saturday evening, Dr. Tandy Freeman released the following update, "Robson Palermo is not competing in the second round in Sacramento after dislocating his left shoulder (riding arm) in the first round and spraining his right shoulder (aggravation of a previous dislocation with stretching of his axillary nerve) during the 15/15. He is questionable for Anaheim."
Palermo had his left shoulder surgically repaired following the 2011 World Finals when he finished the season competing with a torn rotator cuff. He missed the start of the 2012 season while recovering and later rehabbing from the injury. However, began experiencing issues again prior to the 2012 World Finals.
A week before leaving for Las Vegas, Palermo dislocated his left shoulder for the first time and then again during this past off-season when it slipped out of place while he was sleeping. He dislocated it a fourth time when he landed on his left elbow at a TPD event in Denver, Colo., and again this weekend in Sacramento.
In the 15/15 he then landed on his right elbow and experienced another shoulder injury.
He is scheduled to meet with Freeman today, in Dallas, where he'll undergo further evaluation, including an MRI and X-rays. Palermo is hopeful that a week of rehab of physical therapy will be enough to compete in Anaheim.
"I'm going to do everything I can," be said. "I just want to know about this right shoulder."
He said his left shoulder doesn't bother him when he's competing and has only become problematic in situations when he lands on it after dismounting.
"I just need to be careful when I jump off the bull, the way I hit the arm on the ground," Palermo said. "(Friday) night, I didn't think too much and I just jumped off the bull and I hit my arm on the ground again. It's disappointing. This race is so important for me and I'm so close. I'm number seven right now and if I ride a little bit better I can be there."
Friday night was a rough night for bullfighter Frank Newsom, who was slammed into the gate by Maverick late in Round 1. He suffered a concussion and laceration above his left eye. He was unable to continue working Friday, but returned Saturday after passing a concussion test administered by the PBR sports medical staff.
Jory Markiss sustained a right hip pointer when he was hit by the bull's horn after he was thrown off in the first round and Wing sustained a concussion when he was kicked in the head after he was thrown from his first-round bull. He was questionable for Saturday, but, like Newsom, passed a concussion test.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC
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