NAMPA, Idaho – Cody Campbell was in disbelief as he was waiting on the dirt just beyond the shark cage when 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi stepped up to select Jeremiah with the 14th pick of the championship-round draft on Sunday evening.
Just as shocking for Campbell, who was the last guy in for the championship round because of an injury to Shane Proctor, was that the 14 riders ahead of him passed on Hedoo.
Hedoo had surrendered two 87.25-point bull rides in his previous four outs.
Therefore, the 30-year-old bull rider was for dang sure not going to let a golden opportunity pass him by, especially with the clock dwindling down on his pursuit of his first World Finals qualification since 2011.
Campbell didn’t waste that chance.
The bull rider that was raised in nearby Summerville, Oregon, responded by aggressively riding Hedoo for a career-high tying 90.25 points to kick off the championship round and propel himself to a fourth-place finish at the DeWALT Guaranteed Tough Invitational, presented by Ariat.
“Yeah when they told me I was 15th, I just knew I was getting on Jeremiah for sure,” Campbell recalled thinking. “That didn’t bother me, but I knew he was going to be a handful. Guilherme stepped up there and picked him. I was like, ‘I don’t know what the other bull is, but I will take him!’
It had been eight years since Campbell last eclipsed the 90-point threshold at the Built Ford Tough Series level, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“He kind of hopped, skipped and came around,” Campbell explained. “He kind of kicked my outside foot around there. From that point, I was like, ‘It is out. I might as well go ahead and started throwing it.’
“I wasn’t spurring him, but I dang sure was hustling and throwing that foot.”
The ride capped off a 2-for-3 weekend in Nampa, which earned Campbell an extremely important 202.5 points toward the world standings.
Campbell moved up to No. 31 in the world standings and has a small bit of breathing room amidst the tight race at the bottom of the standings after spending the last two months hovering around the BFTS cutline.
He leads No. 36 Alex Marcilio by 161.55 points heading into this coming weekend’s Frontier Communications Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals begin on Nov. 1 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Campbell’s last 90-point ride on the BFTS came when he was 90.25 points on More Bucks at the 2009 Pueblo, Colorado, event. This weekend was Campbell’s eighth 90-point ride of his career at any level of PBR competition.
Campbell had bucked off consecutive 12 BFTS bulls prior to his 85-point ride on Yesterday’s Wine in Round 1 on Saturday night.
“Well, that is the deal. The last few weeks, I have been right there in and out of the bubble spot,” Campbell said. “I was right there and I wasn’t riding like I should. Then I didn’t do anything for a couple of weeks. That is what you have to love about this sport. You just have to keep believing.
“I know I can get bucked off 15 in a row, but I could be 90 on the next 15 too.”
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride was excited about Campbell’s heroics in the championship round.
“That was big stuff from Cody Campbell,” McBride said. “That is what I love about the PBR. Any given Sunday. All of these guys can really ride. What separates them is the consistency. Cooper Davis can ride rank bulls every weekend. Cody Campbell can’t, but he found one today. That was cool. He needed it to make the Finals. That was really good.”
Campbell is one of three riders ranked from 31st to 41st in the world standings that has previously qualified for the World Finals.
Outside of No. 34 Lachlan Richardson – a five-time World Finals qualifier – No. 37 J.W. Harris – a four-time PRCA champion with two PBR World Finals qualifications – and No. 36 Marcilio – a one-time international qualifier – the rest of the current bubble riders are all trying to make the World Finals for the first time.
Bubble riders that are currently trying to qualify for their first World Finals and are outside the Top 35 are No. 38 Jordan Hansen, No. 39 Nathan Burtenshaw, No. 40 Cody Rodeo Tyler and No. 41 Brock Radford.
Campbell believes Richardson, Harris and himself can rely on their age and experience to hold off the newcomers.
All three veterans moved up in the world standings in Nampa.
“That is something age gives you,” Campbell said. “Those young guys get to fighting their head. They start putting too much pressure on themselves. I used to do the same thing. You just have to keep showing up. That stuff will come around. Every bull rider on this tour will get into a slump. That is just how it is.”
McBride agreed with Campbell that veteran riders on the bubble probably have an advantage when it comes to handling the stress of the moment, but sometimes at this point in the season a healthier, young buck may be able to steal a spot from a proven veteran.
“Absolutely. I think they have a big-time advantage over an 18-year-old kid that is trying to make it,” McBride said. “What the 18-year-old kid has is youth, obviously. He doesn’t have the decade long injuries that are stacked up on him. He has all the motivation. All of the old guys have to deal with that, but as far as experience and the know-how, they got it.”
With two events left to truly punch his ticket to the World Finals, Campbell is telling himself one thing.
“You just have to keep showing up,” Campbell concluded. “It will come. It will come.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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