OKLAHOMA CITY – Here are three things we learned from the Express Employment Professionals Invitational this weekend at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Dirteater wins event and 90-point ride showdown (1-21-18)
Ryan Dirteater got vengeance against two-time World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser on an entertaining Championship Sunday that featured three, big-time 90-point rides.
Dirteater rode Bruiser for a career-high 93.25 points in the championship round and then looked on as Eduardo Aparecido, Fabiano Vieira and Dakota Buttar all bucked off to clinch Dirteater his first victory in his home state.
The 28-year-old’s ride on Bruiser capped off his 3-for-3 winning weekend. Dirteater began the event with 86.5 points on Blue Crush on Friday night before kicking off his Sunday with 86.25 points on Struttin Stuff.
“A Hulbert, Oklahoma, cowboy and an Oklahoma bull – dang that is a great feeling,” Dirteater said. “Especially, 93.25 points – a record score. Hopefully I can break a few more records this year.”
Dirteater was happy to see Bruiser available with the fourth pick of the championship-round draft after wanting a rematch against the D&H Cattle Company superstar following his 7.19-second buckoff against Bruiser at the PBR World Finals.
Bruiser was marked 45.5 points in his season debut.
Magic Train was the high-marked bull of the event with a 45.75-point score for bucking off Valdiron de Oliveira in 4.31 seconds. The buckoff ended Oliveira’s streak of nine consecutive rides to begin the season.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Oliveira also sustained a concussion during the buckoff. The 38-year-old is questionable for next week’s Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic in Sacramento, California.
Dirteater earned 545 points toward the world standings and heads in Sacramento fourth in the world standings.
Oklahoma City lived up to its reputation with a rank championship-round bull pen as 10 bulls were marked over 44 points.
However, the night will be remembered for Dirteater’s 93.25-point ride on Bruiser, which beat out Stetson Lawrence’s 92.25-point ride on Cochise and Derek Kolbaba’s 91-point ride on Big Dutch for the top score of the weekend.
“Overall, this was a tough bull riding,” Dirteater said. “This is a good one to win. Every year Oklahoma City is going to have the caliber of bulls that are going to be the rankest bulls in the world at these events.”
Barbosa takes over world lead for first time in his career
Dener Barbosa was the only other rider to go a perfect 3-for-3 in Oklahoma City and the 340 world points he earned pushed him into the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career.
Barbosa rode Wild Goose for 88.5 points during the championship round, but his 76-point score in Round 2 wound up costing him a chance at the victory.
The second-year pro had received a re-ride option on Sunday following his ride on Wild Sky’s after the bull fell over.
Barbosa said he wanted a high-pick in the championship-round draft so he decided to keep his score.
The strategy kind of backfired as he went into the final round with the seventh pick in the draft. However, Dirteater wound up being the only rider ahead of him to put up a qualified score in the championship round.
“This is one of the rankest pens beside Las Vegas, and I think the closest I get to the top to pick, the more chance I get to win,” Barbosa said in Round 2 via Paulo Crimber translating. “I am going to try for that. Based on last night and today, I figured two scores would give me a good chance for the draft.”
The 23-year-old leads No. 2 Cooper Davis, who went 0-for-2 in Oklahoma City, by 45 points heading into Sacramento.
Barbosa has begun the season 10-for-11 through the first three events of The 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast.
“I am really happy because I want to ride good this year,” Barbosa said. “I am riding much better than I was last year. I am very proud of that.”
Lawrence finishes third with career-high ride on Cochise
Normally, a 92.25-point ride would be good enough to win a round and sometimes 88 points in a long round would also result in a round victory.
For Stetson Lawrence, that was unfortunately not the case.
Lawrence was unable to win the championship round over Dirteater despite making a career-high 92.25-point ride on Cochise.
The 29-year-old was able to handle Cochise’s massive up-and-down movement in the championship round to propel himself to a third-place finish overall.
“He was big up and down,” Lawrence said on the back of the chutes. “I was floating there with him and just went to him and didn’t weaken.”
Lawrence previously rode Pick-It Construction’s Find Jesus for 88 points to finish Round 2 in third place. The Williston, North Dakota, bull rider is 3-for-3 against Find Jesus in his career.
“I just love that bull,” Lawrence said. “He just feels great. His timing, he just blows up underneath you. Every bull rider should like that bull.
Lawrence finished 2-for-3 in Oklahoma City and picked up 290 world points to move to No. 8 in the world standings.
“Just keep the momentum going and keep my confidence more than anything,” Lawrence said. “This is a little weight off my shoulders and I can just go back to doing what I was doing today.”
Rounding out the Top 5 was Dakota Buttar (2-for-3, 145 world points) and Jess Lockwood (2-for-3, 140 world points).
Derek Kolbaba’s weekend ended with a thump after he bruised his right pectoralis when he was hit by Smooth Wreck’s horn in the championship round. According to Dr. Freeman, Kolbaba is probable for Sacramento.
Kolbaba had previously won Round 2 earlier in the day with 91 points on Big Dutch.
“That is an awesome bull,” Kolbaba said. “He threw me off and made me look pretty stupid last year. Once you get in timing with him, hell he feels great.”
Luciano de Castro aggravated a pre-existing left arm contusion when he was stepped on after being thrown from Seeing Red in Round 2. He is probable for Sacramento.
Brock Radford avoided serious injury and is also probable for Sacramento despite twisting his knee when he was bucked off by Bezerk in Round 2. Freeman diagnosed Radford with a Grade 2 MCL/PCL sprain.
Lockwood rides through food poisoning (1-20-18)
2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood thought he was going to have to take his helmet off inside the bucking chute and vomit on Saturday night.
Lockwood had already thrown up seven times prior to climbing on the back of Bane after coming down with food poisoning earlier in the day.
The Volborg, Montana, native refused to let that slow him down, though.
Lockwood bit down on his mouthpiece and held on to Bane for 85.25 points to finish Round 1 tied for ninth-place with Dakota Buttar (85.25 points on Hy Test).
“As soon as Derek (Kolbaba) was done and I was climbing down, I almost had to take my helmet back off because I was about to throw up,” Lockwood said as he used a wall outside of the locker room to keep himself from falling over. “I thought I can stick it out. It is 10 seconds. I can last that long.”
Lockwood added that his knee was fine after his bull rope got caught in his spur during his get-off and Bane yanked on him a couple of times.
“Oh, it is not hurt at all,” Lockwood said. “I am so tired and wore out that I was almost a rag doll when he was dragging me. That is the best situation. If I would have tensed up it could have got bad.”
Lockwood has been trying to gain some weight this season after dropping down to close to 130 pounds in the offseason, and he had begun a custom meal plan as a result. He believes that the eggs he had in his breakfast were the culprit to his bout of food poisoning.
He has drawn Joe Blow (15-0, PBR UTB) for Round 2 on Sunday.
“I will eat eggs again, but maybe I won’t pack those meals with me on the weekends again. They may have gone bad.”
Oliveira makes it eight consecutive rides to begin the season
It took him a little bit longer to walk out of the arena on Saturday night, but 38-year-old Valdiron de Oliveira continues to insist age is just a number.
Oliveira rode Budakon for 85.5 points to finish Round 1 in eighth place and extended his season-opening ride streak to eight.
“Eight in a row is pretty good to me,” Oliveira said. “I don’t worry about my age. Age is just a number. You need to think about that. You need your mind to be right and you will ride all of the bulls. I am trying to concentrate more when I am on a bull. I am just thinking about me, myself and the bull. I don’t think about nothing. I don’t think about the guys talking to me. The judges. The clock.”
Oliveira’s eight rides is tied with Dener Barbosa for the PBR lead. Barbosa finished Round 1 tied for second place with Eduardo Aparecido (87 points on Lightning Before Thunder) after riding Monster for 87 points.
Oliveira – the No. 5 ranked bull rider in the world standings – hit the ground extremely hard during his disembark as he was flipped around by Budakon with ease.
Oliveira gingerly picked up his bull rope and only did a few pushups with PBR Exclusive Entertainer Flint Rasmussen before making his way pedestrianly to the locker room.
The 11-year veteran shook off any concern of his health.
“I feel great,” Oliveira said. “I am sore a little bit – my groin. My whole body is, but I will be OK.”
Oliveira has drawn Tan Lines (6-0, PBR UTB) for Round 2 on Sunday.
A qualified ride would be his ninth consecutive on The 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast and 10th in a row dating back to his final ride at the 2016 PBR World Finals before his retirement.
This is Oliveira’s best start since beginning 2011 with nine consecutive rides. Oliveira finished that year runner-up in the World Championship race to Silvano Alves.
Dirteater hopes to hit payday in front of OKC fan base
The loudest moment of the night came when Ryan Dirteater hit the 8-second mark aboard Blue Crush for 86.5 points in Round 1.
The home state cowboy from Hulbert, Oklahoma, tied with Fabiano Vieira (86.5 points on Last Chance) for fourth-place in the round.
“The older you get, the stronger your mental game gets,” Dirteater said. “That is really what I believe. I am just maturing and I love these home state events. The crowd is outstanding. I love riding here. All of these events, the crowd and energy is outstanding, but there is something special about these events.”
Coincidentally, Dirteater rode an Oklahoma bull in front of his fellow Okies.
“I talked to Cord McCoy a few days ago when I got my draw,” Dirteater said. “He said I was going to love him and it worked out. It was good.”
McCoy Ranches is based in Tupelo, Oklahoma.
Dirteater is hoping on Sunday to finally hit payday in Oklahoma City for the first time in his 12-year career.
He has drawn Struttin Stuff (6-0, PBR UTB) for Round 2.
The closest Dirteater has come to winning the longest-running PBR event in Oklahoma was a second-place finish in 2012 and a third-place showing in 2009.
“I would like to scratch that one off my list,” Dirteater said. “That would go right to the top. Here in my home state.”
To earn that win, Dirteater will have to not only leapfrog Barbosa and Aparecido, who each picked up 55 world points in Round 1, but Round 1 winner Juan Carlos Contreras.
The two-time PBR Mexico champion was a special invite from the PBR to Oklahoma City, and Contreras didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of the handout.
Contreras rode Lethal Larry for 88 points to win Round 1 and 100 points toward the world standings.
It is his first ride of his career on the PBR’s premier series.
“This is special for me,” Contreras said. “This is my first ride at the top. This is so significant to me.”
World leader Cooper Davis was bucked off by ABBI Classic winner Big Black in 5.26 seconds.
Wing returning for Oklahoma City; Mauney still week-to-week (1-17-18)
PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney will miss a second consecutive event following a right groin strain he sustained at the season-opening Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden.
Mauney told PBR.com on Wednesday that the injury is improving, but that he is out for this weekend’s Express Employment Professionals Invitational in Oklahoma City. The 31-year-old is hopeful for a return in Sacramento, California, on Jan. 26 for the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic.
“It’s getting better,” Mauney said via text. “It’s getting better and should be back next week.”
One rider that is returning in Oklahoma City is Stormy Wing.
The 28-year-old missed the Chicago Invitational because of a concussion when he was knocked out by Clemon Time during Round 3 of the Buck Off at the Garden.
Wing has drawn Detective Crockett (0-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1.
The Dalhart, Texas, cowboy has begun The 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast 0-for-4.
Fans can watch Round 1 of the Express Employment Professionals Invitational Saturday night exclusively on CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET.
Also not riding in Oklahoma City is Gage Gay (torn right ACL/MCL), Chase Outlaw (reconstructive shoulder surgery), Matt Triplett (reconstructive shoulder surgery), Rubens Barbosa (back injury), Shane Proctor (personal decision), Marco Eguchi (lower back), Mike Lee (personal decision), J.W. Harris (personal decision), Sage Kimzey (personal decision) and Koal Livingston (reconstructive shoulder surgery).
Eguchi has begun the season 2-for-6, but said his back has been giving him problems this week.
“I feel sore in my lower back,” he said. “It will take rest to get better.”
Barbosa said he has been dealing with a back injury since the Dec. 16 Kearney, Nebraska, Velocity Tour event.
"I have been treating it and doing therpay," Barbosa said. "It did get a little better, but I am not 100 percent."
As a reminder, riders that placed 1-30 in the 2017 world standings are guaranteed eight events before being subject to the cutline, while riders ranked 31-35 are guaranteed five events before being subject to being cut.
There will be a total of 12 alternates, injury exemptions and invited riders competing in Oklahoma City: Troy Wilkinson (alternate), Alex Marcilio (alternate), Jordan Hansen (alternate), Nathan Burtenshaw (alternate), Kurt Shephard (alternate), Brock Radford (alternate), Skeeter Kingsolver (alternate), Cody Rodeo Tyler, Wallace de Oliveira (injury exemption), Garret Lange (Velocity Tour winner), Valdiron de Oliveira (invited by PBR CEO Sean Gleason) and Juan Carlos Contreras (invited by PBR CEO Sean Gleason).
Lange is making his 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast career debut, while Shephard, Kingsolver, Tyler and Contreras are making their season debuts.
Lange earned the invite after scoring 86.5 points aboard Wicked Ways in Round 1 before bucking off in the championship round. The 27-year-old has competed in four Velocity Tour events in 2018, and his winning ride is his only qualified ride so far.
The Kingsburg, California, native is 5-for-24 in 19 events at all level of PBR competition since 2012.
Lange has drawn No Prisoners (0-0, PBR UTB) for Round 1.
Shephard is 9-for-21 at all levels of PBR competition in 2018 and is coming off a third-place performance (2-for-2) at the Portland, Oregon, Velocity Tour event last weekend.
The Australian Shephard faces Striker (1-0, PBR UTB) on Saturday night.
Kingsolver went 2-for-5 in two November Velocity Tour events after failing to win the 2017 Velocity Tour championship after entering the Velocity Finals No. 1 in the standings.
The 28-year-old will take on War Cloud (0-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1.
Tyler is 2-for-9 this on the Velocity Tour. He will face A.J. (3-0, PBR UTB).
Contreras is making his first appearance at the PBR’s highest level of competition since going 0-for-2 at the 2012 PBR World Finals. The 27-year-old is 1-for-4 in three non-25th PBR UTB events in 2018.
He has drawn Lethal Larry (0-0, PBR UTB) for Saturday.
World leader Cooper Davis will look to extend his 80-point lead atop the world standings when he faces off against Big Black (2-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1.
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