FORT WORTH, Texas - L.J. Jenkins is among 11 bull riders arriving in Canada today for the start of the Pool B competition tomorrow at the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.
Jenkins will join the likes of Robson Palermo, Renato Nunes, Kody Lostroh and others, as follow-up to a strong showing from the Pool A riders, led by Austin Meier. The Top 4 from each pool, as well as two wild cards, will advance to Sunday's final two rounds. The wild card round will take place on Saturday.
Although he's focused on winning the $100,000 payout, Jenkins' ultimate focus is on the $1 million bonus PBR awards to the World Champion in October.
"I'm just having fun again and trying to take it one week at a time," Jenkins said. "My goal every week is to be in the Top 10. I strive on that."
From mid-March to mid-May, he experienced the most prolific two months of his entire Built Ford Tough Series career.
He's recorded eight consecutive Top 10 finishes - one shy of the record set by Ednei Caminhas in 2002 - including an event win in Kansas City.
Jenkins could tie the record when the BFTS resumes in Tulsa, Okla., on Aug. 10-11, and break the record a week later in San Antonio.
"That's great," he said. "I want to try and get as many Top 10s as I can.
"Usually, I don't ride very good during the first part, and I start warming up during the end of the year. Luckily, I've been real consistent during the (past) 10 events and kind of made a run at it. I feel very confident."
He's second in the world standings behind Valdiron de Oliveira, who holds a 632-point advantage.
Jenkins has covered a career-high 55.74 percent of his bulls, and in the past 10 events he's ridden 26 of 40 (65 percent).
"It comes down to consistency," he said. "Every time you stay on a bull, it counts. Whether you're 70 or 80, it's going to count. Every time you can get a score on the board, it helps."
One big difference between this year and previous seasons is that Jenkins has noticeably pared down his schedule.
Unlike a year ago, when he was focused on qualifying for the World Finals and the National Finals Rodeo, he spent the early part of the 2012 season only competing at BFTS events. This summer, for the most part, he's stayed home.
He's been on what he called a "cow-buying spree," and also bought another 305 acres of land to go with the 240 acres he already owned outside Porum, Okla.
"I've kind of smartened up. You can't win every weekend on this BFTS, so I made a goal of being a Top 10 guy every single week."
A week after the Pueblo, Colo., event, he rode in Decatur, Texas, and since then has focused on his Oklahoma ranch. This week, he'll compete in Calgary and he said he's considering competing at the rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyo., but otherwise, he has been giving himself some much-needed rest.
"That road takes a toll on people," he said. "I think it started showing toward the end of the year, and the first of the year. I got tired. I was just worn out and I quit going to my rodeos earlier this year. I'm just a totally different person. I'm rested every week that I come here. I think that'll be a big deal at the end."
This is the best position he's been in to win the world title this late in the season.
Instead, having to come from outside of the Top 10, this year, he's already inside the Top 5 and considered a legitimate contender.
Last year, he said, by the time October came around he was tired. Afterward, he took a step back and looked at the other top contenders - most of whom are Brazilians - and said they weren't going to rodeos, and therefore, were not nearly as worn down as the competition.
Part of his newfound decision-making process is the fact that at 24 years old, he's maturing as a professional athlete
"Oh, definitely," he agreed. "I was a kid and I was wanting to go out and win every weekend. Well, I've kind of smartened up. You can't win every weekend on this Built Ford Tough Series, so I made a goal of being a Top 10 guy every single week, and you can do that.
"I'm getting old, but I'm getting wiser."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
© 2013 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.