BILLINGS, Mont. – The adrenaline rush and excitement of living out a childhood dream carried Alisson Souza to a ninth-place finish this weekend at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, this weekend.
Yet the deep bags under his eyes said it all.
Souza, who was making his career debut on the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast, was part of a group of bull riders, including Wallace de Oliveira, Danilo Carlos Sobrinho, Fernando Henrique Novais and Michael Lane, that made the 15-hour trek back to Billings following the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Des Moines, Iowa.
The group had previously competed in Billings on Friday night during the specially formatted premier series event that featured 60 bull riders.
Souza, though, was the only rider to cover his bull in Billings in Round 1 that also then went on to compete in Des Moines.
“I want to make the World Finals and chase them points,” Souza said.
The 30-hour road trip was well worth it, though, he explained.
Souza finished in third place in Des Moines thanks to his 87-point ride on Plum Crazy.
He then returned to Billings by 11 a.m. on Sunday to ride Parachute for 85.5 points in Round 2. Souza later bucked off Desperado in 7.84 seconds in the championship round.
“I slept on and off for about three or four hours,” Souza said. “I felt alright.”
Souza (2-for-3 in Billings) is now up to 45th in the world standings after picking up 112.5 world points this weekend.
“Without a doubt, I am really, really happy to be here today,” Souza said. “It is a dream come true to be riding over here in the big leagues.”
Not only did Souza drive to Des Moines, but he was also part of a caravan of cowboys that made the 19-hour trip to Billings from Decatur, Texas. The group began their drive back home on Sunday night after the event.
All in total, Souza spent close to 70 hours in the truck traveling 4,500 miles.
Souza is 8-for-19 (42.11 percent) at all levels of competition and trails No. 35 Brady Oleson by 68.33 points.
The talented 24-year-old Brazilian bull rider is quickly moving up the ranks since arriving in the United States two months ago.
The rookie is relatively new to the PBR scene after only competing in six PBR Brazil events last year, but Souza has won two of the largest rodeos in Brazil – Barretos (2017) and Rio Verde (2015) – and has arrived in the U.S. with an impressive resume.
“It was another dream come true,” Souza said. “Ever since I was a kid I dreamed to ride over there and to be a champion over there is real big. Besides here, that is the biggest you can go. I am happy to have won it.”
Souza got his start in bull riding at 10 years old. He and his twin brother, Alan, grew up on a farm in Taubate, Brazil, -- a medium-sized city in Sao Paulo – and the two kids met a local veterinarian named Reginaldo de Niz, who came to their ranch to check on their cattle.
“He and another local bull rider taught us pretty much everything,” Souza said. “How to sit on one. How to put a rope on.”
Alisson is adjusting well to the United States, but he admits he misses his brother.
The two are extremely close and do essentially everything together. Alan’s visa was denied in his attempt to come to the U.S. with his brother, but he plans to try again in the future.
The two talk daily, and they both offered each other advice about the bulls they had drawn for this weekend. Allan finished fourth at the Lagoa Formosa Rodeo. Coincidentally, Allan had drawn a bull on Friday that Allison had previously ridden.
“If my brother was here, it would be a lot easier,” Alisson said. “We help each other. Figuring out the bulls and stuff. I hope he comes soon. I am trying to do my work by myself for now.”
Many of the Brazilians that know of Souza or have begun to see him ride believe he will be joining them in the Top 35 very shortly.
“He is very, very focused on bull riding,” said fellow Brazilian Marco Eguchi.
Eduardo Aparecido said that he believes Souza has similar potential as Jose Vitor Leme and that there is much anticipation in Brazil to see how Souza performs in the United States.
“He is a champion at big events in Brazil,” Aparecido said. “He rode 89-90 percent of his bulls in Brazil. I like this guy. He rides the same as Silvano. He is similar.”
Souza said he is confident he will join his fellow Brazilians on the Unleash The Beast, and at the PBR World Finals.
“I am really confident, and I know I can be in the top with the other guys,” Souza concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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