PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood’s pursuit of becoming the youngest PBR World Champion hit a road block this past weekend in Uniondale, New York.
Lockwood broke four ribs, punctured a lung and lacerated his kidney when he was bucked off and stomped on by Blue Magic in 3.09 seconds during Round 1 of the Buck Off The Island, presented by Cooper Tires, on Saturday night.
The No. 3 rider in the world standings will miss at least four weeks, according to Dr. Tandy Freeman, but the good news for Lockwood is that he is not in danger of missing the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 1-5 in Las Vegas.
“I have to see more of the stuff, but in general we are probably looking at four weeks,” Freeman said on Sunday. “The Finals are not a problem. He may or may not be able to come back in time to go to San Jose. We will just have to see.”
Lockwood is 215 points behind world leader Eduardo Aparecido with four Built Ford Tough Series events remaining in the regular season.
The 19-year-old spent over 30 hours at the hospital this weekend before being released late Sunday evening.
Lockwood was unable to fly home because of his punctured lung, so he was therefore making the 25-hour drive to Bismarck, North Dakota, with the help of Stetson Lawrence.
Lockwood plans on spending the week in North Dakota with his good friend Weston Hartman.
“My ribs don’t even hurt at all,” Lockwood said Monday morning from Wisconsin. “My neck hurts. Frick, they said I have a pinched nerve or something in my neck from whiplash. I’ll go visit a chiropractor or something this week.”
Lockwood said he isn’t sure if he would return to competition before the World Finals or not.
“Tandy said I can probably be back by San Jose if I wanted to, maybe even earlier, but we will see,” Lockwood explained.
Freeman said the biggest concern for Lockwood is the broken ribs and punctured lung. The kidney laceration was small and shouldn’t limit him.
“The ribs need to be healed enough that they don’t have any sharp edges that can lacerate the lung,” Freeman said. “As long as they are minimally displaced, which my impression is they are, he should be able to ride in four weeks.”
Lockwood was unable to eat or drink while in the hospital as a precaution for his injuries.
“I was so pissed and crabby,” Lockwood said with a sigh. “I am used to not eating from wrestling, but that was unreal.”
This is the third significant injury that Lockwood has dealt with this season, including his second in three weeks.
Lockwood was knocked out by 2016 World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser and almost broke his back two weeks ago in Springfield, Missouri.
The 2016 Rookie of the Year bounced back to win the Wrangler Long Live Cowboy’s Classic, presented by Frontier Communications, in Austin, Texas, last weekend despite being unable to walk.
Lockwood also had to miss five events during the spring because of a torn groin.
“Yeah, that pops into your mind like, ‘What if I was healthy the whole time?’ But everything happens for a reason,” Lockwood said. “Everything has still been working out pretty good. I have been able to ride these past weekends thanks to PBR Sports Medicine and Rich Blyn stretching me out and helping me get healthy.”
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider will turn 20 years old on Thursday.
Lockwood actually broke four ribs and punctured a lung when he was 16 years old, so this current setback is something he is extremely familiar with.
“Heck, like I was talking in Austin, my junior year I had the same thing happened,” Lockwood said. “I was back riding in three weeks and I came back really good and strong. I won the amateur rodeo finals and it was good.”
Lockwood said some time off before the Finals will be beneficial for his battered body, but he added that it is frustrating to have to sit out with so much on the line.
“Yeah, that is what I was saying,” Lockwood said. “It will be good to be back at 100 percent instead of 75 or whatever.”
2016 World Champion Cooper Davis can relate to the emotional roller coaster Lockwood is going through.
Davis had to undergo surgery last September when he broke his collarbone during his pursuit of a world title.
The Jasper, Texas, bull rider missed two events before returning for the final four events of the regular season and going into the World Finals 222.83 points out of the world lead.
“It is hard to see a buddy go down, especially this late in the season,” Davis said. “I talked to him and he seemed like he was in good spirits this morning. It is tough because I went to Springfield last year and I thought my chances were over. I know where his head is at, but it is best to go at it by getting everything fixed and come back healthy when everybody else is banged up.
“You can look at it one of two ways. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or be ready when you come back to win. I think that is what Jess is going to do.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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