PUEBLO, Colo. – Koal Livingston is still scraping the mud that is plastered on his bull rope and riding gear days after winning the Fairfield Auto Group Invitational PBR this past weekend.
Livingston went 2-for-3 during a rainy and misty weekend in Benton, Pennsylvania, to earn his second career victory at any PBR level of competition.
The conditions were not ideal, but those muddy, late-nights brought back memories of his childhood practice sessions in Burleson, Texas.
It was also the kind of moment Livingston missed during his five-month recovery from offseason reconstructive, left shoulder surgery.
“It was a muddy mess,” Livingston said with a laugh during a phone interview with PBR.com on Tuesday. “It was definitely fun. We made the best out of it. It isn’t something I would want to do all the time. It was old school.”
Livingston is 6-for-12 (50 percent) at all levels of competition with a victory and three Top-5 finishes since returning to competition almost one month ago.
In Benton, Livingston bounced back from a Round 1 buckoff against Bandit (2.5 seconds) by riding Hollywood Nights (86.5 points) and Sugar Boom Boom (89 points) for his first victory since his December 3, 2017, victory at the Hidalgo, Texas, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event.
Livingston would rosin his bull rope early in the evening before covering his handle with tape. Once he was about to ride, he would rip off the tape and pray that his rope would stay sticky enough for him to last 8 seconds.
“That only works for about one bull ride,” he explained. “It then gets muddy.”
2018 is the first year since 2010 that the PBR’s premier series does not have an outdoor event on its schedule.
Livingston hopes a premier series outdoor event returns in 2019.
“They are pretty cool when the weather is right,” he said. “I don’t know if I dang sure would want to get on if it is really cold or raining. But it would be cool.”
Therefore, Livingston said it is nice this summer to compete at some outdoor events, including the upcoming 15th annual J.W. Hart PBR Challenge on June 2 in Decatur, Texas.
The 20-year-old made his PBR debut in Decatur two years ago. He still remembers when Hart organized a Young Guns Challenge, featuring the eventual PBR World Champion Cooper Davis and 2016 Rookie of the Year Jess Lockwood.
“That was my very first PBR event and I bucked off,” Livingston said with disappointment. “It was a big ole’ step up. I was pretty nervous coming in to see what I would do in my first one.
“I am now feeling good. We are going to change it this year.”
Livingston is quickly becoming one of the PBR’s rising ,young guns after riding his entire rookie year with an unstable shoulder.
A healthy Livingston has been a vast difference compared to the teenager that valiantly, gritted his way to a 35th-place finish in the world standings with his shoulder almost never staying in place.
The second-year pro has already earned 245 world points in five events to rocket up to No. 46 in the world standings.
“I finally was able to crack a couple and get an event win, which is great,” Livingston said. “This is only one of my first few events back, especially. I am just ready to keep the ball rolling and keep the train on the tracks.”
Livingston is next slated to compete at the PBR Canada Monster Energy Tour event in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Saturday night.
Also competing at the Scotiabank Centre is No. 21 Tanner Byrne, No. 32 Marcos Gloria, 2017 PBR Canada champion Zane Lambert and Team USA’s Matt Triplett.
He said he has had no setbacks with his shoulder and that Dr. Tandy Freeman did an exceptional job with the surgery.
“I say it is 100 percent,” Livingston said. “I don’t have all of my motion back. My motion is not all there, but it is holding in place. It is not popping out no more.
“If it was up to me, I would have come back sooner. I was feeling good pretty quick, but Tandy wanted to make sure everybody is right. That is a good thing that we have him to keep us in check. I was hoping to be back by Arlington, but that would have been four-and-a-half months, but he said no to that one.”
Regardless, Livingston has no qualms about the late-start to the season.
He is happy to finally be healthy once and for all.
“I am definitely putting in the work every day,” he concluded. “All the hard work is paying off.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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