LAS VEGAS – It hasn’t been an easy stretch for Cody Jesus.
Coming into the 2019 PBR World Finals, Jesus hadn’t had a qualified ride on the Unleash The Beast since the Houston Invitational on Aug. 18, and his self-confidence was at an all-time low as he continues to battle through a torn left groin.
But before he went to sleep following Round 1 – a 2.91-second buckoff by Hocus Pocus – his dad gave him some simple advice: have fun.
When Jesus woke up the morning of Round 2, he was flooded with good juju almost immediately.
“Everything kind of felt good as soon as I woke up this morning,” Jesus said. “I woke up to some good messages, and good text messages, had a good breakfast, and it just worked out.”
That good breakfast was with head coach Ted Nuce and fellow Team USA Wolves hopefuls at Il Fornaio in the New York-New York Hotel & Casino to discuss the 2020 WinStar World Casino and Resort PBR Global Cup USA, presented by Monster Energy, but also to simply bond as a group.
Stetson Lawrence, Keyshawn Whitehorse and Colten Jesse were announced as team members for the 2020 Global Cup Thursday night. Jesus has yet to be named to the team, but he remains hopeful that he will earn one of the final four spots still up for grabs.
Nuce led the charge Thursday in sharing stories about his own life and dispensing some wisdom, and he too gave Jesus some advice earlier in the day.
“We had breakfast with Ted Nuce this morning, and he just told me to have fun and enjoy every moment of it,” he said.
So when Jesus headed to the PBR Rock Bar & Grill to have lunch with PBR CEO Sean Gleason and some PBR legends, he walked down The Strip with a new mindset.
“I just enjoyed every bit of that walk,” he said. “I walked around and said, ‘Not many people get to live this dream, and I work too hard to just be falling off like that.’
“I really never just looked at Vegas, like the big buildings. I just usually walk on The Strip and looked at the cool water stuff, and stuff like that. But today, I took a deep breath and just remembered where I was at and what I’m here to do, and that’s ride bulls and have fun.”
Jesus is ending the day even happier than he was when he started it.
In a rematch with Lil 2 Train, Jesus earned a massive 92 points to win Round 2, walking away with 300 world points and $35,000. Previously No. 20 in the world standings, he climbed to No. 18. He’s also No. 7 in the Rookie of the Year race, 814.58 points behind leader Dalton Kasel.
“Man, I needed that. Big time,” Jesus said. “I’ve been so hard on myself. I haven’t had a ride in I don’t know how long. I haven’t heard the whistle in I don’t know how long, and it really sucked coming in here without any qualified rides and without any confidence at all.
“I knew that bull would throw me off in New York, and I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”
Indeed, the two had previously faced off in the season-opening event in Madison Square Garden. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, Jesus hit the dirt in 2.19 seconds.
This time, however, he was prepared.
“I knew he was going to buck around in that chute a little bit, and Gene (Owen) just said, ‘Sneak out on him and be as fast as you can,’ and that’s what I did,” he said. “He bucked, and I just tried to match every move with him.”
World No. 2 Jess Lockwood finished just short for second place in Round 2 with his 91.5-point effort on Spotted Demon. No. 5 Cody Teel placed third with 91 points on SweetPro’s Bruiser.
Cliff Richardson (89.5 points on Cochise) and Matt Triplett (89.25 points on Magic Poison) rounded out the Top 5.
Jesus will take on Safety Meeting (3-2, UTB) in Round 3. Fans can watch Round 2 live on CBS Sports Network at 11 p.m. ET and on RidePass at 10:40 p.m. ET.
Jesus heads into Round 3 with a new buckle – and the first World Finals round win of his career – and a huge boost in confidence.
“My older brother’s at home, and it’s the first time he’s not with me at a major deal, and he just said, ‘Believe in every move you make. Don’t wait to make the moves. Don’t hesitate to spur the bulls,’” Jesus said. “He said, ‘You know how to ride. Do like you do.’”
Jesus did like he did, and says he didn’t think at all during his ride. He has no idea why it went so well, but he’s certainly not complaining.
“I just didn’t want to fall off him a second time,” Jesus said. “And Gene Owens’ bulls usually give me a 90. I’ve been on Cochise, and he said, ‘You’ll be 92 today. Let’s hopefully get the round win.’”
He then let out a huge sigh of relief and grinned, adding, “I don’t know what to say. Honestly, I’m lost for words right now.”