FORT WORTH, Texas - For 25-year-old Emilio Resende, Sunday afternoon was only the beginning of the realization of a lifelong dream.
Completely surrounded by a horde of PBR fans seeking to have their picture taken with him and holding out everything from day sheets and programs to Brazilian flags and cowboy hats for the Rookie of the Year to sign, Resende soaked up as much of the moment as he could.
"I can't even explain how happy I am," he said after climbing back atop the shark cage.
He rode four of six bulls at the World Finals to finish second in the average behind Robson Palermo. The $181,833 Resende won in Las Vegas gave him $271,470 for the season and was more than enough for him to be named this year's Rookie of the Year.
Resende rode in only 13 of 28 Built Ford Tough Series events, but still arrived in Vegas with a chance to come from behind and surpass both Chase Outlaw and Chad Besplug.
Outlaw had a fantastic start to the season, winning several Touring Pro Division events; his success continued with his first BFTS event win in Houston at Reliant Stadium. He also won two of three events in Australia over the summer months, while Besplug asserted himself in the race by virtue of his win at the Calgary Stampede.
Only Resende, however carried his late-season momentum with him to the Thomas & Mack Center.
He had finished second in the average at two of the past five regular-season events and was poised to make a name for himself at the World Finals.
He scored 87 points on Lightmaker.com's Rango - one of seven contenders for World Champion Bull - to split third and fourth with Valdiron de Oliveira to open the event, and would have had a chance to move to the top of the average early on had he not bucked off Carney Man at 7.5 seconds in Round 2.
Resende responded in Round 3 by covering Joe's Boot Shop Bad Blake for 87.5 points.
He bucked off Wipeout in the fourth round and needed a strong finish to move back up in the average if he wanted any chance of winning the rookie title.
On Sunday, he rode Tapout for another 87.5 points and was eighth in the average going into the championship round, where he drew David's Dream - another of the World Champion Bull contenders. Resende rode him for a round-winning 89.75 points, hitting the dirt so close to the whistle that his score required a replay review.
One of the first riders to congratulate him as made his way out of the arena was Outlaw, who had gone 0-5 in his first Finals appearance.
"I'm sure it'll help with my confidence at a lot," Resende said. "I'm really happy with the result. Next year I'm going to dedicate myself even more."
It's the third year in a row - following Silvano Alves (2010) and Rubens Barbosa (2011) - in which a Brazilian rider has been named Rookie of the Year.
Like many of his fellow countrymen, he returned to Brazil this week.
He plans to compete in one last PBR regular-season event in Brazil before taking part in the Final Brahma Super Bull PBR, which will take place from Nov. 21 through Nov. 25 in Americana, Brazil.
"I think I can be in a better place by the end of the year and do better in the standings," said Emilio Resende.
In 2013, he said he intends to focus on the BFTS.
His goal, like everyone else's, is to win a world title. However, knowing how good the competition is and how difficult it is to win a gold buckle, he stopped short of predicting the outcome.
"I think I can be in a better place by the end of the year and do better in the standings," said Resende, who trains regularly and stays in shape by running daily.
"All year every arena is the same, the bulls are the same and the idea is to be looking at the goal."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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