DENVER – Derek Kolbaba spent last weekend rooming with mentor Shane Proctor and fellow bull rider Markus Mariluch at the Built Ford Tough Series opener in Chicago.
Now Kolbaba has some bragging rights on Proctor after the 19-year-old bested his Jedi master at the Denver BlueDEF Tour event on Wednesday night.
Kolbaba rode Compact for 85.5 points in the championship round to knock Proctor off of the leaderboard and earn himself the eventual victory.
“That is a great bull,” Kolbaba said. “I knew he was going to be right there away from my hand and have a little bit of hesitation. I did my job of just staying down and letting him back me around there and it worked out.”
Kolbaba was perfect in Denver this week, going a combined 3-for-3 and earning himself an automatic bid to the BFTS event in St. Louis on Feb. 12-14
He rode Smokin’ Gun for 86.5 points in Round 1 on Monday and Day Job Voodoo for 86 points in Round 2 earlier on Wednesday.
“Once he turned back, I felt pretty good getting around there and when he went back the other way I was able to pick him up pretty good,” Kolbaba said of Day Job Voodoo.
St. Louis will be Kolbaba’s second BFTS exemption after earning a spot in the Chicago draw courtesy of his BlueDEF Tour event win in Bakersfield, California, last November.
“This is where it all works out,” Kolbaba said. “The BlueDEF Tour is a big help and another step to get you up to that level to where you can ride against the best guys in the world. It gives me a lot of confidence to go in there and compete and show them what I am made of.”
Kolbaba didn’t need the BFTS this week to show some of the top competitors in the PBR just how good he may be.
He finished ahead of the likes of not only Proctor – the 2011 PRCA champion – but also three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee and multiple other BFTS riders.
“Hell if I lose to anybody, I am super stoked it was to him,” Proctor said. “He has had an old cowboy soul for as long as I have known him and he has always been real chill, especially in those pressure situations. You saw it last year at the (BlueDEF Tour) Finals in Louisville. He stepped up when he needed to with that last ditch effort to make the PBR Finals.”
Alves said just before Kolbaba nodded his head in the championship round, “That kid is pretty good.”
Proctor (255 points) rode Night Train for 82.5 points in the championship round to edge past Fabiano Vieira (3-for-3, 252.5 points) for the lead. He finished 3-for-3 and earned 50 points toward the world standings with a second-place finish.
Vieira placed third and picked up 30 points toward the standings, while Alves (3-for-3, 229.5 points) and Sean Willingham (2-for-3, 175.5 points) rounded out the Top-5.
Alves earned 20 points toward and the standings and Willingham earned 15.
Alves jumps from 12th to 10th in the world standings.
Willingham won the championship round with an 89.5-point ride JJ’s Pride.
“I remember watching Kaique (Pacheco) and that bull last night,” Willingham said. “I knew he looked like a bull that would fit my style to a T the way he is up and down and round and round. I was excited to have him, especially coming off a buckoff at 7.8 (seconds on Joe’s Over The Top). I was still kind of pissed off about that. I was able to capitalize and fix it within a short period of 10 or 15 minutes of intermission.”
None of those BFTS savvy veterans were able to overcome Kolbaba though.
The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider is the second consecutive young gun to win the PBR event in Denver. Cooper Davis won the 2014 event and used that to propel himself to a full year on the BFTS and a sixth-place finish in the world standings.
Kolbaba earned 80 points with the victory and sits seventh in the world standings with 170 points.
He is scheduled to compete at the Touring Pro Division event in Pueblo, Colorado, Thursday night before heading off to Reno, Nevada, for this weekend’s BlueDEF Tour event.
“(Denver) is a great event and a pretty big event,” he said. “A lot of the Top 35 guys come to it. To be lucky enough to get in and show them what I am made of, and ride all three of my bulls, is what I have been working for.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Professional Bull Riders BlueDEF Tour Event Results:
Jan. 11-13 Denver, Colorado
Results (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3- Total Points - Event Points)
1. Derek Kolbaba, 86.5-86-85.5-258-80 points.
2. Shane Proctor, 88.5-84-82.5-255-50 points.
3. Fabiano Vieira, 83-86-83.5-252.5 points.
4. Silvano Alves, 85.5-59-85-229.5-20 points.
5. Sean Willingham, 86-0-89.5-175.5- 15 points.
6. Cody Johnson, 87-0-85.5-172.5-10 points.
7. Bryan Titman, 86-86-0-172-0 points.
8. Kaique Pacheco, 87.5-83-0-170.5-0 points.
9. Ouncie Mitchell, 84-86-0-170-0 points.
10. Tanner Byrne, 85-85-0-170-0 points.
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