Third time's a charm

Highlights

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“There’s always a chance to win if you just don’t quit.”

Until Sunday, Wiley Petersen hadn’t won a Built Ford Tough Series event since early last year in St. Louis, despite qualifying for five of six short rounds this year, and another nine last season.

Petersen was one of two riders to go 3-for3 at the Tampa Invitational. He took the lead with three riders to go when he covered RFD-TV for 90 points. It was his third attempt on the bull after bucking off twice before.

“It gets discouraging sometimes when you get bucked off,” said Petersen, who added that it feels good to get the win. “You just (have) to keep your head up and keep riding, put the buckoffs behind you and just move forward.”

The 30-year-old from Fort Hall, Idaho, said the entire experience is a “good lesson in perseverance.”

Three times in six events he’s finished in the Top 10. However, this was only the second time in five short rounds that he made the whistle, and it was by far his effort. His only other qualified mark was 85.25 points in New York, where he finished fifth.

Petersen was at a loss for words when asked what was different about RFD-TV this time.

“I don’t know,” he said. “You never know. It’s just little mistakes that get you, and I asked Adriano (Moraes). He helped me with a little bit of advice.”

The three-time World Champion, who was inducted into the Ring of Honor last May, wasn’t in Tampa, Fla., this weekend, but he was at the past three BFTS events working as the chute boss. It was then that Petersen confided in the former champ.

Petersen, who scored a combined 259.25 points in three rounds, acknowledged that the bulls aren’t getting any easier, and that he isn’t getting any younger, so he’s accepting any advice that helps with correcting mistakes.

Currently he is in seventh place in the world standings, having covered 12 of 20 bulls for a 60 percent riding average, which is well over his career average of 49.85 percent.

Rounding out the top finishers were Shane Proctor, who was the only other rider to cover all three bulls this weekend, opening round winner L.J. Jenkins, and Josh Koschel, along with Austin Meier and Aaron Roy, who split fifth and sixth place in the event.

Meier, who won the third round with an 98.25-point effort on Outa da Blue, held the overall lead after two rounds, and did not hesitate in selecting RMEF Bugle with the first pick in the bull draft for Round 3.

He had never been on the bull in the past, but had seen him enough to know what to expect—or so he thought. Meier said afterward he was expecting Bugle to turn to the left, which would have been into his hand.

“He kind of hung his head when he blew out of there and came back to the right,” Meier explained. “I started a great ride on him, but the bull bucks, you know. He’s a little long around to the right and just was better than I was today.

“Around to the left, he looks like one you’d want to be on all day and be a lot of points. Today he went right and I tried to get him rode, but I definitely say he’s a little ranker to the right than he is to the left.”

Meier is just happy to be healthy and riding well, and hopes to “keep the ball rolling.”

Next week the BFTS continues onward to North Carolina for its seventh event of 2010 season – the Winston-Salem Invitational presented by Troy-Bilt – at the LJVM Coliseum. The two-day event starts Friday night.

NEWS and NOTES

Show me the money:
Tampa’s opening round winner L.J. Jenkins became the latest rider to earn in excess of $1 million in prize money. Jenkins took home $14, 100.40 this weekend to cross the milestone. It’s just one more illustration of the amount of money available to riders in the PBR.

This year will also mark a milestone for the organization as it gets set to cross the $100,000,000 in money paid out to professional bull riders. In two weeks, the PBR will take a big step toward that historic payout when it awards the winner of the Iron Cowboy Invitational $260,000.

And the hits just keep on coming: Brendon Clark and Cord McCoy were the latest pair of riders to be cut from the BFTS, and Zack Brown faces the same reality in another week.

Clark made a successful ride in Round 2 for 86 points on Carolina Cat and then had to play the waiting game to see if he made it back to the short go on one bull. He nearly did when J.C. Navarro, who finished 11th in the event without competing in the short go because of a separated left shoulder, doctored out of the final round. That meant 15 of the Top 16 qualifiers advanced, but Clark disappointingly fell short in the draw by one.

The Aussie moved from 39th to 35th in the world standings and 98 points short of avoiding the cut. However, McCoy fell from 40th to 42nd in the standings and remained 217.5 points out of the Top 30.

Brown, who finished last season ranked 8th in the world after winning four BFTS events, is currently 40th in the standings and is still 188.75 points out of the Top 30. Next week in Winston-Salem, the adrenaline junkie from Hawaii needs two qualified rides and either a third in the short go, or bonus points for placing in one or both long rounds to avoid being cut.

Iron Cowboy: Kody Lostroh, J.B. Mauney, Guilherme Marchi, Valdiron de Oliveira, Robson Palermo, Austin Meier, Ryan McConnel and Zach Brown have all qualified for a first round bye at the Iron Cowboy Invitational because of their Top 8 finishes in 2009.

The 16 other qualifiers – all of whom would have to attempt five bulls as opposed to four – include Travis Briscoe, Shane Proctor, Josh Koschel, Wiley Petersen, Skeeter Kingsolver, McKennon Wimberly, L.J. Jenkins, Renato Nunes, Sean Willingham, Ross Coleman, Brian Canter, Dustin Elliott, Caleb Sanderson, Elliot Jacoby, Mike Lee and Ned Cross.

If, for any reason, one of the Top 8 cannot compete, then he would be replaced by the 9th ranked rider from the 2009 season standings, whereas if one the final 16 riders is out, he would be replaced by the next highest ranked rider based on the standings after the Tampa Invitational.

Cross, who competed in the first BFTS event this season as part of the Challenger qualifiers, is replacing Aaron Roy at the Arlington, Texas, event. Marchi is hoping to return to competition prior to the historic first of its kind tournament-style event.

Iron clad wedding vow: He’s only getting married once, and that’s why Aaron Roy elected not move his wedding date. Roy will not have an opportunity to ride at Cowboys Stadium or compete for the $260,000 paid out to the winner because he and his fiancée chose Saturday, Feb. 20, as their wedding day.

“Yeah, it’s a big bull riding,” he said, “but there’s big bull ridings every day, and I’m hoping to only get married once. … It is quite an event to go ride in that stadium and to be in the Top 25 to even be able to get there, but just to get married is even bigger.”

Cowboy up: Six months after making his Grand Ole Opry debut, two-time World Champion Justin McBride will perform at Cowboys Stadium.

“My first reaction was the same as when I heard I was playing the Opry,” said McBride. “I want to make sure I’m up for the task.”

McBride said he’ll have time for four or five songs and that he’ll likely close his short set with a Chris LeDoux cover, but he could opt for the Radney Foster classic “Texas in 1880.” To fill out the sound, he’ll perform with a two extra musicians, including a fiddle player.

McBride said that although he “won’t be completely in (his) comfort zone,” it won’t be nearly as nerve-racking as hosting a live TV show, “because there’s no eye contact.”

Beginners luck: As luck would have it, J.C. Navarro could not compete in Sunday’s short go after separating his left shoulder. The North Carolina newcomer scored 85.25 points on his first bull Saturday night and then added a second score in as many rounds when he made the whistle on Old Yeller for 81.5 points.

He would have had the seventh pick in the bull draft, but Dr. Tandy Freeman came out at the start of the final flight of Round 2 and said Navarro could not continue because of the injury. According to Freeman, he is also doubtful for next weekend’s event in Winston-Salem.

Welcome to the PBR:
In his first BFTS event, Fabiano Vieira found out the hard way that when you walk up on the shark cage for the bull draft you had better do so with a plan, especially if you don’t know how to read or speak English.

Vieira, who is heralded by many of his fellow Brazilians as one of the best bull riders to come from South America, had no intention of selecting Code Blue in spite of McKennon Wimberly’s suggestion. So as time expired and an unsure Vieira didn’t know what he wanted, an equally frazzled Wimberly went ahead and said, “Code Blue.”

Robson Palermo, who had the next pick in the draft, could only yell, “Why?” as he doubled over in laughter. Disappointed as he was confused, Vieira only shrug his shoulders and hobble back behind the chutes. He may have bucked off the reigning World Champion Bull, but he still finished 10th in his first event.

There’s a first time for everything: Fabiano Vieira
and Stormy Wing both made their BFTS debuts this past weekend in Tampa, while J.C. Navarro rode in only his second BFTS event. Navarro previously rode in one event two seasons ago.

Vieira went 2-for-3 and Wing was 1-for-2, while Navarro was 2-for-2. All three should be top contenders for the 2010 Rookie of the Year.

Roll call:
According to Chris Shivers, the two-time World Champion won’t be competing next weekend in North Carolina at the Winston-Salem Invitational presented by Troy-Bilt.

He’ll take the weekend to heal up before competing at a three-day event the following week in Oklahoma City. He did not qualify for the Iron Cowboy Invitational at Cowboys Stadium, so he’ll have two of the next three weeks to rest before resuming a stretch of 11 events in 12 weeks.

Don’t call me, we’ll call you: Last year, Rick Wagoner told PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert that no one would ever ride Code Blue. Lambert told him that if you bring a bull around long enough, eventually someone will make the whistle. J.B. Mauney did so in New York (even if he was nearly upside down).

Wagoner recently called Lambert again, and this time told him that after one look at Wolverine, he’ll be including the young bull in future short rounds. After bucking off Ben Jones in Round 1, Wagoner said he was happy with the out but that he should have given him a little more flank.

Wolverine wasn’t in Sunday afternoon’s short go, but did have a second out in Round 2, where he quickly put Cody Ford on the ground. No word yet whether or not Lambert saw enough from Wolverine to include him in any future short rounds.

In the coming days, fans can look for an extended feature on Wagoner and Jimmy Walton champion bovine Code Blue.

Now listen here: Also in the coming days, PBR fans can look for audio blogs from Flint Rasmussen, Ty Murray and Shorty Gorham, who will give some weekly insight into what it takes to be a bull fighter.

Performance(s) of the Event:
After taking a couple solid blows in Round 2 from Cash, L.J. Jenkins was dazed and confused, but he returned in the short go for a 90.5-point effort on Chance and a third-place finish in the Tampa Invitational.

—by Keith Ryan Cartwright

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