Behind the Chutes: Anaheim, Day 3

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Here are three things we learned from the Anaheim Invitational this weekend at the Honda Center.

Mick E Mouse wins rematch against Harris in stellar fashion

Mick E Mouse continuously paced back and forth in his pen in the minutes leading up to the start of the final day of the Anaheim Invitational.

He spun around and flicked his ears into the air as his impatience continued while waiting for his chance to compete.

Marlene Henry glanced over the rail and smiled.

She described her bull as “salivating” for the bucking chute to swing open and let her bovine athlete take charge inside the arena.

It was as if she knew her bull had something special brewing in his final out until Iron Cowboy.

Henry wasn’t joking, and when Mick E Mouse finally got his opportunity three hours later he let all of his pent up frustration out against four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris.

Mick E Mouse lunged powerfully forward just outside of the left bucking chute and swung Harris to the side in 2.65 seconds in an act of brute strength that resulted in a season-high 47-point bull score.

“Today we could just tell he was on his game,” Henry said. “His motor was running all day and I was really excited J.W. Harris picked him. It is a great matchup and hats off to J.W. for picking him.”

Harris selected Mick E Mouse with the 12th pick of the bull draft, but could not overcome Mick E Mouse’s trademark shoulder dip.

“He just kind of dropped that shoulder a little bit and then my left foot come up and I had nothing to stop it,” Harris said.

Mick E Mouse is averaging 45.5 points per out in 2015, but his previous two outs were no comparison to what he did on Sunday.

Henry said she and hauler Kevin Loudamy cut back some of Mick E Mouse’s hay the past few weeks to tighten up his stomach and get him a little leaner.

They try to keep him around 1,940-1,950 pounds.

Harris called Mick E Mouse the best bull currently in the PBR.

“He has been outstanding,” Harris said. “If we got to pick them, he would be my pick for Bull of the Year right now.”

Mick E Mouse overshadowed another strong out by Long John, who ripped 2004 World Champion Mike Lee over the front end in 1.92 seconds.

“He felt pretty rank,” Lee said. “I didn’t put my legs down because he was pretty nervous in the chute and I didn’t want to make him to upset. I was just a little touch behind and he got me.”

It was Long John’s second consecutive out with a bull marking of 46 points or better.

Sunday was the second time Harris faced Mick E Mouse. He nearly rode the bovine athlete last year in Thackerville, Oklahoma, before bucking off at the 7.47-second mark.

However, this time around Harris was nowhere near making the 8-second mark on Mick E Mouse, who has bucked off 31 consecutive riders on the BFTS.

“He bucked a lot harder this time than when I got on him at Thackerville,” Harris said. “He had a lot more up and down, but I will stick pick him every time.

“If you ride him, you are going to win.”

Matt’s monkey is off his back

World leader Matt Triplett has said continuously this year that he has to learn how to convert in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

The 23-year-old has taken pride in his early-season success, but there was no hiding the fact that he was frustrated – if not even angry at times – with his 0-for-5 performance in the championship round this year heading into Anaheim.

Triplett finally got to shed that goose egg from his stat line by riding Mr. Bullon Sunday for 89 points to win his BFTS-leading fifth round of the season and clinch his second BFTS victory in three weeks.

“That was my fifth time getting on him and I finally got it done in the short round,” Triplett said. “I did what my dad (Pat) told me and I listened to him. He told me to stay loose, calm and collected and don’t even think about it being a short round. Just go at it as a long-round bull and that is what I did.”

Triplett said his trip on Mr. Bull was kind of what he expected, but he tried to not even think about what Julio Moreno’s bull would do. Instead, he just remained confident in the fact that he covered the bull for 90.5 points last year in Billings, Montana, and tried to treat it like another long round.

He has now ridden Mr. Bull two out of the six times he has faced him on the BFTS.

Triplett earned a total of 615 points toward the world standings this weekend. He earned 400 points for winning the event average, 100 points for winning the championship round on Mr. Bull, 60 points for placing second in Round 3 with his 85.5-point ride on Super Cella and 55 points for splitting second-place with Tanner Byrne in Round 2 with his 87-point ride on El Capitan.

He extended his lead over No. 2 Silvano Alves, who earned no points toward the world standings in Anaheim, by 780 points.

“I have to keep working as hard as I am during the week,” Triplett said. “Six hundred points is obviously just an event win. I have to keep on the grind, keep hustling, keep getting on the bucking machine, keep doing yoga, keep spending time in the gym and keep on working my butt off.”

A year after breaking his leg, Schaper goes 3-for-4 in return to Anaheim

One year ago, Nathan Schaper left the Honda Center on a stretcher after Bushwacker snapped the Grassy Butte, North Dakota, bull rider’s left leg during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on national television.

This weekend, Schaper exited the arena happy following a 3-for-4, third-place performance that pushed him inside the Top 10 of the world standings for the first time since breaking his leg.

Schaper won Round 3 on Sunday afternoon with an 86-point ride on Classic Whoppin’.

It was the first BFTS round win of Schaper’s career.

“Douglas (Duncan) got on him last weekend and he made a really great bull ride on him,” Schaper said. “He is a very, very little bull and he sure bucked for a little bull. It worked out pretty great.”

Schaper earned 100 points toward the world standings thanks to the round win.

“It is pretty cool,” Schaper added. “With this new points system, I will take it.”

Schaper finished the event third overall with 280 points. He earned 180 points for finishing third in the event average (250.50).

The 24-year-old heads to next weekend’s three-day BFTS event in St. Louis ranked ninth in the world standings.

Injury updates

Reese Cates got to the Honda Center around noon Sunday to get his left shoulder looked at by sports medicine after feeling some discomfort following his 4.36-second buckoff on LL Cool J in Round 2.

Originally, Cates felt the injury wasn’t too serious in the moments following the the buckoff Saturday night, but when he went to hang up his bull rope inside the locker room he began to feel some pain.

Cates eventually decided to not attempt to ride on Sunday after consulting with Dr. Tandy Freeman, and he is now set to undergo X-rays on Monday in Dallas to determine the severity of the injury.

“It is one of three things,” Cates said. “It could be a slight tear in the labrum or the bicep tendon. It could be a fracture on the humerus or it could just be the way I got hit. Either way, my shoulder blades aren’t firing and it is my free arm and I can’t raise it.”

Cates, who missed six months last year because of right shoulder surgery, could have taped the shoulder and attempted to ride Sunday, but the No. 3 bull rider in the world didn’t want to try riding with the inflamed shoulder and risk having it dislocate.

“I’ll get X-rays tomorrow and go from there,” Cates said.

Valdiron de Oliveira also did not compete Sunday. Oliveira sat out with bruising to his abdomen after being struck by Super Kool Cat on Saturday night. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, he is probable for next weekend’s BFTS event in St. Louis.

Marco Eguchi is also probable for St. Louis despite missing the Built Ford Tough Championship Round with a thigh contusion that has left his leg extremely black and blue.

J.W. Harris is probable for next week after he injured his left thumb on his free arm when his hand was hit by Mick E Mouse’s head. The 28-year-old says he may get X-rays this week to determine if he broke the thumb.

Cody Nance competed in the third round with a cast on his forearm after Freeman determined that he broke his right forearm last week in Sacramento when he was kicked by Boot Jack in Round 1.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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