PUEBLO, Colo. – Dakota Louis wasn’t as surprised as the rest of us when reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger called him last week.
Berger and Louis had chatted a few weeks earlier about the possibility of the three-time Indian National Finals Rodeo champion being added to Berger’s $100,000 Match of Champions.
It was then that Louis stepped up his training regimen, just in case a rider would be unable to compete in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Sure enough, Louis’ phone rang last Wednesday when Berger learned that 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi had returned to Brazil following the PBR Sydney Global Cup.
“I trained as hard as I could,” Louis said. “It was like I knew I was going to get in. Once he called and confirmed I was in, I was ready to go.”
Louis finished third in the Match of Champions and was one of only three riders in the 13-rider field to reach the 8-second mark.
The 25-year-old rode South Texas Gangster for 88 points on Saturday night. The ride is tied for the fifth-best of his non-premier series career.
“Oh man that was awesome,” Louis said. “He kind of had a rough start, but once he picked it up, it was 100 mph both ways. He was one of the bulls where you couldn’t think and you just had to go. Just everything fell together. Luckily, I heard the whistle before I hit the ground.”
Louis got hung up just past the 8-second buzzer and got wrung around, only adding more pain to his already injured shoulder.
“My hand was in there. After bucking off in the Champions Challenge yesterday, I made it extra sticky today.”
RidePass commentator Colby Yates was impressed with Louis’ ability to spur during the final few seconds of the ride.
“That bull turns out backwards into his hand. He is pumping over his hand, spurs with his outside foot back to the other direction,” Yates said during the broadcast. “He picks up that so smoothly and then back around. You see that arm twist around. That hurt so bad. The adrenaline is going now. He won’t feel it until he goes back to the locker room.”
Louis had previously injured his shoulder earlier in the night attempting to get out of the chute with Moleek.
“The first bull jumped in there. It was a freak deal,” Louis said. “My arm went through the slide and he just kicked. My hand was tied in and it just popped in the back. I thought I was alright and I could just take a break. Then it started to hurt more and more. I think it is something in my joint.”
Louis also rode Boy Named Sioux for 83.5 points on Friday night to finish the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Touring Pro Division event in 16th place.
The Browning, Montana, bull rider is one of two three-time Indian National Finals Rodeo champions and he felt it was extremely important to show he could hold his own alongside the PBR and PRCA World Champions also competing.
“Being around the group of guys I am riding against, it definitely wants you to step up more,” Louis said. “When they announce you as a World Champion that makes you puff your chest out and want to be your best.”
Louis credits his dad, Greg, for being an inspiration to him in his life.
Greg won two Indian National Finals Rodeo championships.
“He dang sure is my hero and he showed me everything,” Dakota said. “I always wanted to match him, and to have him beat I know he is just as proud.”
Louis is 4-for-17 (23.53 percent) at PBR-sanctioned events and is 165th in the world standings.
The Northern Cheyenne Native American has yet to qualify for the PBR World Finals.
His best finish in the world was 63rd in 2015 and 2016, but he still hopes to one day make his dreams a reality.
“We are working on PRCA and PBR world titles,” Louis concluded. “We aren’t going to stop until we get them.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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