LAS VEGAS – Here are three things we learned from Round 2 of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday night.
Jared Allen’s Air Time explodes into World Champion Bull lead
Jared Allen’s Air Time set off a thunderous boom in the 2015 World Champion Bull Race with an explosive performance in the first of his two outs at the World Finals.
Just when it appeared Renato Nunes was going to potentially ride Air Time, the bovine athlete erupted high into the air and kicked his feet to bounce the 2009 World Champion off his front end for a 47-point bull score and a 5.84-second buckoff.
“He was really good,” Nunes said. “He kind of stopped in the middle, and he saw I had him, and he exploded hard. I know something came. It was a good day. I am happy for Jared Allen. I was so nervous too because that bull has some trouble in the bucking chute. That is the bull that should be the World Champion.”
Stock contractor Matt Scharping gave Nunes a big hug later on in Round 2 and thanked Nunes, who he talked to about the matchup on Wednesday and Thursday, for putting forth the effort to showcase his bull.
“That is Air Time,” Scharping said with a big grin. “That is the bull. That is how he is.”
Scharping arrived in Las Vegas early last Friday in hopes of making sure Air Time was acclimated before the Finals began following the three-day trip from Minnesota.
“When we got here, he didn’t want to eat right and I knew he would do that,” Scharping said. “That is why we did that. He still eats in his own way. He won’t eat during the daylight when the people are around. He eats at night in the dark when nobody is around.”
Air Time’s manners may involve no eating in public, but his in-arena attitude on Thursday was one of dominance.
2015 WORLD CHAMPION BULL STANDINGS
- Sweet Pro’s Long John – 45.25 points for 2.72 second buckoff of Alexandre Cardozo.
- Jeremiah – 45 points for 4.95-second buckoff of Fabiano Vieira.
- Roy – 44.75 points for 1.96 second-buckoff of Robson Aragao.
- Bruiser – 44.75 points for 2.94 second-buckoff of Eduardo Aparecido
- Stone Sober – 44.25 points for 1.5-second-buckoff of Douglas Duncan
- Smooth Operator – 42.75 points for 4.04-second buckoff of Guilherme Marchi
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said the World Champion Bull race is far from over, but Air Time certainly left a strong first impression.
“Air Time showed it, and Renato really put out the effort on him to showcase what Air Time has and that is what he needed to take the lead. If he has anything close to that again, he will be the World Champion; but he has to finish.
“He definitely is in the lead and he earned it.”
Rookies Bonner Bolton and Cooper Davis rising to the occasion
They may not have won the 2015 Rookie of the Year crown, but Bonner Bolton and Cooper Davis are proving at the Finals how strong this year’s rookie class is.
Bolton won Round 2 with a 90.5-point ride on Walk Off – the first 90-point ride of his career – and sits second in the event average behind Cooper Davis, who finished fourth in Round 2 with an 88-point ride on Cowboy’s Dance Hall’s Panda Trax.
“Man, all year has kind of been a warm up process for me to get comfortable at this level,” Bolton said. “To get on these bulls all the time is a little more than I am used to week in and week out. I am just thankful to put it all together here and be on top of my game where I know I can be. It feels good to brush off the rust and zero in on my skill-set.”
They are the only riders to go 2-for-2, and Bolton trails Davis by 13.25 points in the event average.
“It is awesome to be up there with a fellow rookie and fellow Texan,” said the Odessa, Texas, bull rider. “We are good supporters of each other and good friends. Everybody back here is rooting for each other. No matter Brazilian, Australian, Canadian, we are all cheering each other on.”
Davis added, “This is the first time I ever felt I could be a world title contender. I just feel great.”
Bolton earns 200 points toward the world standings to move from 34th in the world standings to 27th.
Bolton would guarantee himself eight BFTS events at the start of 2016 if he finishes the season inside the Top 30, which would be a huge accomplishment after missing all but two of the final eight events because of a broken collarbone.
“All I can do is focus on one bull at a time each night and that is all I got on my mind,” he said.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the round was Tanner Byrne (88.25 points on Who Dey), Gage Gay (88.25 points on Sasquatch), Davis and Silvano Alves (87.25 points on Swashbuckler).
Alves records highest-scored ride since March 28
Silvano Alves rode Highwood Squirrel for 88 points on March 28 in Seattle two weeks before he sustained a broken left hip in Nampa, Idaho, attempting to ride Legal Tender.
It has been a long road of recovery for Alves ever since he underwent surgery to repair the broken hip and it has been a process that has brought confusion, frustration and a little bit of anger for the three-time World Champion.
Two months into his return to competition and Alves finally has his highest-scored ride since his 88-point ride in Seattle.
Alves rode Swashbuckler for 87.25 points to place fifth in the round, and he will head into Friday’s Round 3 of the World Finals in contention for his second World Finals event title.
“It is both,” Alves replied when asked if he felt the ride was vintage Alves or if he could still be better. “I am very happy to ride tonight and I was happy to almost ride last night. Last night there was no pain, only a little bit for a short time. Tonight I tried hard and have gained more confidence to ride bulls because it was a big score and a good ride. It was perfect position and good momentum.”
It was the first time in months that Alves flashed a determined glare toward the CBS Sports Network cameras instead of a dazed and confused look following a buckoff.
It is too early to tell, but the ride may have indeed just awakened a sleeping giant inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Now I have more confidence to ride bulls all week,” Alves concluded.
World leader J.B. Mauney said during the Round 3 bull draft that he was fine after being helped to sports medicine following his 2.52-second buckoff against No Regrets on the final out of the evening.
Mauney aggravated a previous elbow injury and said he will be ready for his Friday night meeting against Say Goodbye.
In other injury news, Robson Palermo twisted his left knee in the chute at the outset of his ride attempt on David’s Dream. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Palermo sprained his MCL and is probable for Round 3.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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