TACOMA, Wash. ― It didn’t take long after the CBS Sports Network broadcast was over before Justin McBride walked into the locker room, the first person he saw was Gage Gay.
The 19-year-old wasn’t happy with himself or the way this weekend’s Built Ford Tough Series event in Tacoma, Wash., ended.
McBride, who was packing up J.B. Mauney’s bull rope, stopped long enough to tell Gay to keep putting himself in that position.
Gay was the No. 1 rider coming into the final round for the second time in four weeks. He was in the same position in Kansas City, Mo., where he lost out to Emilio Resende.
And for the second time he fell short of the whistle.
“Well, that’s just it,” McBride later explained, “on a lot of rank bulls everything has got to go right to stay on them and then there are days when they’re going to buck you off, but if you keep putting yourself in that situation time and time again, you’re going to get to the winner circle.”
Gay took Buck Wild, who lived up to his name in the chute, with the first pick in the bull draft.
During a television production meeting, which was held four hours prior to the start of the final two rounds, that was the same bull McBride had hoped would be matched up with the Staley, N.C., newcomer.
On his first attempt at pulling his rope, Gay was literally bucked out of the chute before a harness was put on the bull to keep him from rearing up again.
“He’s pretty testy in the chute and it’s hard to get a great shot at him,” said McBride, who added that in spite of Buck Wild having a weird trip out of the chute, there were no fouls.
Gay simply said the bull had an off-night.
Typically, Buck Wild is described as a good little bull that stays flat, kicks out and keeps riders on their bull rope. Riders have also been able to sit on their butt.
Gay intended to pick Buck Wild if he had the chance, and the rookie said he would make the same pick if he had to do it all over again.
“You just gotta let it make you mad,” Gay said. “You can’t take it and let it get to you. You have to make yourself mad about it and take it out on that bull. It makes me do better when I’m mad.
“I was definitely mad after the fact because I knew I let one get away.”
Gay earned 85 points in the opening round of the PBR Passport Invitational when he rode Kat Hour on Saturday night. He was one of 19 qualified rides, which tied a season-high for Round 1, and then split the round with Guilherme Marchi, who extended his lead to 726.62 points atop the world standings over Mike Lee, after riding Red Dingo for 89 points in Round 2.
Gay had a two-point lead over Stormy Wing – 174 points to 172 – followed by Matt Triplett, Marchi and Tanner Byrne.
According to Gay, judges like Buck Wild.
The stats prove it.
Four of the past five riders to make the whistle on the bovine have been 90 or better and McBride knew it was a good matchup for this year’s top-scoring rookie.
Four of the Top 5 in the average heading into the championship round had never won a BFTS event and the other is a former World Champion, who is also the No. 1 rider in the world; but it was sixth place Cody Nance coming from behind to win his first event of 2014.
Nance was followed in the average by Marchi, Byrne and Fabiano Vieira. The trio split second, third and fourth in the event with 251.25 points on three bulls, while Gay finished fifth by riding 2-of-3.
The story of the weekend is Gay moving into the Top 10 of the world standings – he is now in ninth.
Nevertheless, he’s still not happy with himself for letting an opportunity to win get away from him.
“It’s kind of starting to get to me, but I know I’ll get it done sooner or later,” Gay said.
McBride said he loves that about Gay.
McBride – a two-time World Champion-turned commentator – said he loves riders who predict they’re going to win an event and truly mean it. He also loves when they’re confident in picking their bull in the draft.
“I like that in an athlete,” he said.
McBride added, “First and foremost, (Gay) knows how to ride and it (has) to start there. You (have) to know how to ride. Looks to me like he has that part of it covered and then he has belief in his ability. I think people are drawn to that. I know as a fan now covering the sport and watching the sport, I enjoy that.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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