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Behind the Chutes: Des Moines, Day 1

DES MOINES, Iowa – Here are three things we learned following Round 1 and the 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Des Moines Invitational at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night.

Air Time and Boot Jack lead bull parade

The Top 35 bull riders in the world were no match for the rankest bulls on Saturday night.

Jared Allen’s Air Time and Boot Jack may have tied for the highest bull score (45.25 points), but the bulls were dominant as an overall group.

The bulls limited the riders to just seven qualified rides in the first round and 15/15 Bucking Battle combined, and stock contractor Chad Berger believes a lot of it had to do with this weekend being the 16th stop on the Built Ford Tough Series and fourth straight event with a 15/15 Bucking Battle.

“All of these guys are pretty sore and tired” Berger said. “The bulls definitely have an advantage. There are some great riders here that are pretty beat up. They are all trying to ride through the pain.”

Berger’s bull Boot Jack, who is a son of three-time World Champion Bull Little Yellow Jacket, downed Kaique Pacheco in 2.1 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

“He was the best bull out tonight,” Berger said. He really bucked. I was real proud of him. Air Time had a good day too.”

Berger credited all of the bulls for putting forth a strong effort.

“The ground isn’t the best here, but them short-round bulls are special and seem to battle through them kind of things,” Berger said. “The bulls were pretty impressive overall.”

Air Time received his 45.25-point bull score by eliminating J.B. Mauney in 3.52 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle after wearing the 2013 World Champion down inside the bucking chute.

Mauney, who is riding with a torn left ACL, was jerked forward inside the chute by Air Time and had to re-pull his bull rope on three occasions. After the first incident, Mauney grabbed at his knee before getting situated again on Air Time.

He eventually got out on the Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team athlete, but was unable to reach 8 seconds.

“J.B. jumped in there expecting him to go left and so (Air Time) went right,” stock contractor Matt Scharping said. “Besides his stumble, he was rank.”

Nance wins 15/15 Bucking Battle

Cody Nance didn’t expect that keeping his 76.5-point score on Yo Yo in the 15/15 Bucking Battle would net him $21,000, 150 points toward the world standings and the first 15/15 Bucking Battle victory of his career.

Yet sometimes you just get lucky like that.

“I didn’t know,” Nance said. “It was just a blessing. God has done crazier things. I just, I don’t know. With this caliber of bulls, there is always a chance that something like that could happen. You just have to hope that good things are to come. If you don’t have hope, it is hard to expect anything good I guess.

Nance said that in the moment he wasn’t too concerned about taking the re-ride option because he simply just wanted to place in the Top 5 of the round.

“It was something I felt good about,” Nance said. “I am not going for average points in the 15/15 round, so I figured the odds were pretty good. You got a score and are one out of 15.”

The ride is also just his second qualified ride since Fresno.

“I have been in this 15/15 round three weeks in a row as an alternate,” Nance said. “Maybe now I will actually be in the Top 15. It just feels good to finally break through that barrier.”

Nance’s score is the lowest qualified ride to ever win a 15/15 Bucking Battle in PBR history – the previous low was Matt Triplett’s 87-point ride on Oklahoma Bell at last year’s Bulls on the Beach event in Huntington Beach, California.

Schaper wins fourth BFTS round of 2015

Nathan Schaper was able to notch his fourth round win of the season – the second most on the BFTS – to move to fourth in the world standings.

Schaper won Round 1 with an 86.25-point ride on Air Bender and earned 100 points toward the world standings.

“I have been on that bull before,” Schaper said. “I was happy to have him. I really like that bull a lot. He feels good. You can’t ask for anything better. He is just honest.”

Schaper previously rode Air Bender for 85.25 points at the Monster Energy Buckoff at The Garden in January.

The 24-year-old had ridden six consecutive bulls before being bucked off by David’s Dream in 3.29 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle. Schaper is riding at a career-best clip of 49.02 percent.

Schaper takes on Aunt Mimi in Round 2 and trails world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira by 865 points.

Vieira, who is still battling a rib injury, was bucked off by Cash Ya Out in 3.04 seconds in Round 1 after accepting his re-ride option following a 64-point ride on Super Cella. He later bucked off Barracuda in 4.3 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Injury updates

According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Renato Nunes sustained an abdominal laceration when he was gored after being bucked off by Lieutenant Dan in 2.81 seconds. He was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment. Nunes is doubtful for Round 2.

Kasey Hayes injured his lower back when Panda Trax fell on him during the 15/15 Bucking Battle.

According to Freeman, he went to the hospital for X-rays and to repair a fracture. He is doubtful for Round 2.

Ryan Dirteater has been ruled out for Round 2 on Sunday after injuring his right ankle Friday night at a non-PBR event in Oklahoma. He is questionable for Colorado Springs. Dirteater was bucked off by Chantilly Lace in 6.96 seconds.

There were 10 riders ruled out of competition by Freeman: Silvano Alves (broken left hip); L.J. Jenkins (broken neck- C1); Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction); Ty Pozzobon (concussion); Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture); Billy Robinson (left PCL tear), Chase Outlaw (right shoulder dislocation/torn rotator cuff), Sean Willingham (broken neck- C7); Ben Jones (herniated disc in his neck C6-C7) and J.W. Harris (herniated disc in his neck – C6-C7).

Eduardo Aparecido (bruised left hip) and Alexandre Cardozo (right elbow sprain), Stormy Wing (sprained left MCL) and Robson Palermo (unstable left shoulder) were competing with documented injuries.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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