CHICAGO – Derek Kolbaba quickly found a new use for the massive big check he was awarded at the WCRA Windy City Roundup on Friday night.
Kolbaba was standing inside Allstate Arena when he noticed that he had split open the backside of his jeans during his event-winning ride aboard Reign Lashes Testified (84 points).
With his Levis’ shredded and a nice cool breeze coming in, Kolbaba decided the check could be a decent cover up as he began to put winning the bull riding competition and $67,675.91 at the $1 million rodeo into words.
“I blew my Levis out there, but we will get our self another pair and be ready for the weekend,” Kolbaba said with a laugh. “That is the price you pay.”
Kolbaba had to bust his rear every second of the way during his Championship Match Round ride aboard Reign Lashes Testified.
The 22-year-old was reared way back at the 3-second mark before Reign Lashes Testified then attempted to whip Kolbaba down to the left and into his riding hand.
Kolbaba was able to hang on just in time for the 8-second buzzer, but not without consequence as Testified stepped on Kolbaba’s butt and ripped his jeans.
“It felt about the worst bull ride I ever made because it was just so ill-timed,” Kolbaba said. “There was no kick at all, and when that happens, all it does is want to run you off your rope.
“It was a fight until the end and I am glad we won the battle.”
Kolbaba beat out Chandler Bownds for the victory and earned 207.5 points toward the PBR world standings. The Walla Walla, Washington, cowboy is now ranked 11th in the world standings.
Bownds was bucked off by Handsome Jeff in 4.87 seconds prior to Kolbaba riding in the championship round.
The two riders split the long round victory with 88.5-point rides.
Bownds rode Biker Bob to earn a berth in the Championship Match Round.
“He was a little in and out, but he gave me enough time to get around there,” Bownds said. “Right out of there he kicked in the bucking chute and he set me right up there where I needed to be. He felt really good when he was around to the left. I kept fighting to get to the front and stay in there a little bit. It was awesome. It worked out.”
Bownds earned 127.5 points toward the world standings and is 17th in the world standings.
Kolbaba rode Soup In A Group for 88.5 points in the long round.
“He left really hard out of there,” Kolbaba said. “Once he hit and come right, I knew that was kind of his memo. Once he turns back, he is going to be 100 mph and we just have to keep up.”
The only other rider in the nine-man field to reach 8 seconds was Brennon Eldred, who rode The Hard Stuff for 86 points.
“That bull is a bucker and I knew he was going to buck,” Eldred said. “I knew I had a chance to win on him, but eventually he hipped himself and went a little longer. It might have cost me a point or two, but I am happy to get a score on a good bull. I got some points and some money. I got my weekend kicked off right.”
Eldred picked up 65 points toward the world standings.
Bownds was given the choice to select either his bull for the Championship Match Round or whether or not he wanted to ride first or second. The Lubbock, Texas, bull rider opted to select Handsome Jeff, which allowed Kolbaba to choose to ride second.
Kolbaba said one of the advantages of going second was knowing exactly what you have to do to earn the victory.
“That is one of the other reasons why I wanted to go last,” he said. “The pressure kind of builds on you and you have to rise up and let it boost you up. At that point, you just put it all on the line to make the whistle no matter what it looks like. I didn’t hear the whistle. I didn’t even know I made the whistle to be honest with you. It made the pain go away a little faster.”
Kolbaba qualified for the Windy City Roundup courtesy of his victory at the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo in Salt Lake City in July.
He has won $125,675.91 in two WCRA rodeo competitions.
“It is a cool organization and they are making a lot of opportunities for rodeo cowboys that they don’t have every day,” Kolbaba said. “As bull riders, we are lucky to have the PBR to have that. For these guys, it is big time. For anybody, really. It is huge to be able to ride one day and walk away with over $50,000.”
Two-time World Champion and RidePass analyst Justin McBride had been waiting for Kolbaba to break through.
“That is huge,” McBride said. “That is what I have been waiting for out of Derek Kolbaba. When he decides he is not hitting the ground, and Testified is not kicking. He knows he is back and he can stay there because the bull is not kicking.”
McBride congratulated Kolbaba following the event.
“That is what it takes right there,” McBride said to Kolbaba.
“That is what it does take,” Kolbaba said. “It is not going to be the pretty ones that make it. It is going to be the ones that weren’t any fun. You just have to dig down and get through it. That is what it takes. We have to do that from here on out.”
Outside of making a boatload of money on Friday night, Kolbaba was happy to get things back on the right foot following his 0-for-5 performance last weekend at the Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden, presented by Ariat, in New York City.
Kolbaba now heads into the Unleash The Beast Chicago Invitational on Saturday night for a Round 1 date against Checkmate (5-1, UTB).
Fans can watch the action on RidePass at 7:45 p.m. ET and CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET.
Kolbaba will have plenty of momentum on his side too.
“It is funny how it works,” Kolbaba concluded. “One weekend you are zero and this weekend you are actually riding like you know how. That is the biggest key. Getting out of your head and remembering you are supposed to be at this level and be a Top 5 contender week in and week out.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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