ANAHEIM, Calif. – Brady Oleson wiped his brow and let out a big exhale.
“Man, this thing just needs to get started already,” Oleson said as he paced around the outskirts of the locker room.
It was 7:40 p.m. inside the Honda Center and Oleson had already been at the arena for nearly 4 hours. The 21-year-old rookie had uncertainty in his eyes, sweat on the back of his neck and a tad bit of anxiety about making his PBR 25th: Unleash The Beast debut.
Oleson joked that he wouldn’t be too nervous once he slid inside the bucking chutes on Friday night, but he couldn’t hide the nerves that come with reaching the pinnacle level of professional bull riding.
It was less than nine years ago when he was 12 years old and competing at a mini bull riders event during the 2009 PBR event in Nampa, Idaho. Oleson still remembers the astonishment he had over the bright lights and the fireworks of pre-event intros.
And just like he did in Nampa that year, Oleson came through with a qualified ride – this time with the stakes a little bit higher – covering Make-N-Magic for 86 points in Round 1 of the Anaheim Invitational.
Oleson made a crisp adjustment when Make-N-Magic turned back into his hand, and he was then left smiling as he grabbed his bull rope following the first ride of his PBR career.
“I was super nervous,” Oleson said. “You have to tell yourself it is just another bull riding, but it ain’t.
Competing on the Unleash The Beast is the main reason why Oleson didn’t undergo surgery last month to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder (free arm).
Oleson had earned a future invite to an Unleash The Beast event (St. Louis) when he went 2-for-2 at the Oakland, California, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event. However, he injured his shoulder during his Round 1 ride on Blurred Lines (84 points).
The injury, which may need to be repaired with reconstructive surgery and keep him out for six months, hasn’t slowed him down too much yet. Oleson had arrived in Anaheim following three consecutive Top-5 finishes on the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour.
Stetson Lawrence traveled with Oleson a little bit two years ago and admitted he was surprised to see Oleson come through with a qualified ride, primarily because of Oleson’s shoulder injury.
Oleson finished tied for fourth in Round 1 and picked up 28.33 world points.
“He is a good kid,” Lawrence said. “He struggled in his head a little bit like any other kid does. He had the ability to be here, but like everybody else he would see the big lights. He did good. I was surprised. I was real surprised. He has a bad shoulder and everything.”
Oleson is a third generation cowboy.
His grandparents owned a ranch with beef cattle in Idaho, while his father, Josh, competed at PRCA events as a bronc rider and his stepdad, Jason Johnson, was a PRCA bull rider.
Josh won back-to-back Idaho High School State Rodeo championships in the saddle bronc.
“I got on two of them and that was enough to know I didn’t like it,” Brady said.
Brady’s brother Coby is a senior at Blackfoot High School in Idaho and won the 2017 Idaho state championship.
The brothers’ mother, Theresa, and their other brother, Wacey, who lives in Los Angeles, was in attendance for Brady’s first ride on Friday night.
Brady has been riding at PBR-sanctioned events since turning 18 years old in 2014, but he had not been able to put together enough consistency to qualify for the PBR’s premier tour.
“It was frustrating for sure,” Oleson said. “Little injuries. I just never could get it rolling I guess. I had won a couple of events. I would maybe win one or two a year and I just never got consistently going. Pretty much myself.”
In 2015, Oleson won the 2015 PBR Canada Finals by going 3-for-3.
“It was crazy,” Oleson said. “I had only been up to one event that year to qualify and then next thing I know I was up there riding three bulls and leaving there the winner.”
Oleson is 19th in the world standings heading into his Round 2 matchup against Deep Water (19-4, PBR UTB).
The Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour No. 1 bull rider has assured himself a spot in the draw for next weekend’s PBR 25th: Unleash The Beast Caterpillar Classic in Kansas City, Missouri, and once he gets seeded for that event he will be officially eligible for the 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year award.
“That is definitely on the list,” Oleson concluded. “Now that I am here, let’s just keep going and not be intimidated by it.”
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