Behind the Chutes: Last Cowboy Standing, Day 1

LAS VEGAS – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of Last Cowboy Standing on Friday night at the MGM Festival Grounds during Cowboy Spring Break.

World leaders advance to Round 2

The top four bull riders in the world standings – Joao Ricardo Vieira, Matt Triplett, Kaique Pacheco and J.B. Mauney – are all still in the hunt for a major payday and potential victory at Last Cowboy Standing.

All four came down with qualified rides in Round 1 on Friday night to advance to Round 2 on Saturday night.

Vieira finished tied for third in the round with Cooper Davis by riding KISS Animalize for 87.5-points on the final ride of the night to earn 67.5 points toward the world standings.

He now leads Triplett by 192.5 points in the world standings.

Triplett earned 45 points toward the world standings by placing fifth in the round with an 87-point ride on LL Cool J.

The 23-year-old said it was good to just get one out of the way at such a big event.

“It is a huge accomplishment,” Triplett said. “This event is so big that it puts a lot of pressure on everybody with double the points and what not. Like I have said all year, you have to have fun. If you are not having fun it is so hard. You just take it one bull at a time, and I am ready for tomorrow.”

It is obviously easier to have fun when you are riding your bulls, and Triplett has now ridden five in a row on the BFTS.

Both Triplett and Vieira took the past two weeks off, compared to Pacheco and Mauney who competed on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.

“It helped. I feel 100 percent again and I am just loving it right now,” Triplett said.

Pacheco and Mauney didn’t place in the Top 5 of the round, but both riders are still very much alive in the elimination-style competition courtesy of 82-point rides.

Mauney advanced to the second round with an 82-point ride on Celling Bioscience’s Jukebox Hero, while Pacheco heard the 8-second whistle aboard Hungry Eyes.

Valdiron de Oliveira, the fifth-ranked bull rider in the world standings, was bucked off by Mug Shot in 6.15 seconds, but Oliveira was the lone rider based on his world standings ranking to be invited back for the second round after there were 24 qualified rides in the first round.

According to the PBR competition department, there were to be a guaranteed 25 riders competing in Round 2.

2014 Last Cowboy Standing Guilherme Marchi was eliminated by Houla Hoop in 6.43 seconds. The 2008 World Champion was the lone Top-10 rider that failed to advance to the second round.

Triplett said that all of the riders, regardless of world ranking, understand how important the second PBR Major of the season is.

“Every good athlete loves pressure and when the pressure is on that is when you have to dominate,” Triplett concluded.

Cooper Davis rides for newborn son

Rookie Cooper Davis admitted it has been an emotional few days since his fiancé Kaitlyn Elliott, gave birth to the couples’ first child on Tuesday.

The couple welcomed Mackston into the world at 6:01 p.m. The little boy weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce.

Cooper said it was a struggle to leave Texas and head to Las Vegas this week, but the decision paid off in Round 1 when the 21-year-old used an 87.5-point ride on Heavy Dose to tie with Vieira for third place.

It is the second time Davis has covered the bull in his career after previously doing so in Laughlin, Nevada.

“I didn’t really want to do bad, but if I I did, I would have been on the first flight out of here,” Davis said. “Getting on the plane, I wanted to come out here and do good, but, at the same time, I didn’t want to leave my little boy. I kind of teared up a little bit leaving there.”

The 67.5 points he earned toward the standings moves him from 16th to 13th in the world standings.

“I am glad I did good, but I am ready to get home and see my little boy again.”

Close buddies Gage Gay and Michael Lane split Round 1 win

Gage Gay and Michael Lane live less than 20 miles apart in North Carolina.

On Friday night, the two close friends were separated by much less.

Gay, who lives in Staley, and Lane, a Randleman resident, split the first-round victory in Las Vegas with 88-point rides aboard Recovery Time and Gentleman Jim.

“That was a pretty good bull ride,” Gay said. “I thought he could probably be a point above me or so. That bull kept stumbling. That bull did pretty much everything but pull a knife on him to try and buck him off. He made him look stupid and that was good to see.”

Friday night was Lane’s first career qualified ride and BFTS round win.

“That was a really good bull,” the 24-year-old from North Tazewell, Virginia, said. “I had seen some videos of him. (Billy Robinson) told me he was going to want my feet pretty bad so I kept moving and just rode. I just love to ride bulls.”

The 120 points Lane earned toward the standings moved him from 41st in the world to 34th, while Gay goes from 29th to 25th.

After struggling during last year’s Built Ford Tough World Finals and missing out on the 2014 Rookie of the Year title, Gay was happy to get a qualified ride on the board.

“It feels good to finally get one rode here,” Gay said. “I have only rode one bull out of probably damn near 20 here. He just kept spinning right there into my hand and I couldn’t have asked for anything else better. I got on him in Fort Worth two years ago and he threw me off right at the whistle. I knew today I had his number. I was looking forward to it.”

The last time the two bull riders competed together on the BFTS was two years ago in Lane’s previous BFTS event – Last Cowboy Standing.

This year’s version already has gone much different for Lane and Gay.

“We got one rode and now it is just putting that one behind us and going out and getting another tomorrow,” Lane concluded.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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