SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 at the PFIWestern.com Invitational presented by Bass Pro Shops on Friday night at JQH Arena.
1. Jenkins wins after bull rope switch
A week after experimenting with an American bull rope, L.J. Jenkinsswitched back to his normal Brazilian-style rope this weekend.
The move back to familiarity seemed to pay off, as he rode Set ‘em up Joefor 88 points to win Round 1.
Jenkins had originally switched to an American rope last weekend at the Jack Daniel’s Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee, but still failed to record a qualified ride. He had reached the 7.95-second mark on Little Bighorn.
He tried to get on some practice bulls on Tuesday from Wolf Creek Cattle Company with Matt Triplett, who was bucked off by Savage in 2.76 seconds on Friday, but found little success.
“The American felt really good on my last bull (last week), but it felt like it was coming out of my hand,” Jenkins said. “I used it there in the practice pen the other night and the bull I rode, it felt like it was trying to pull me into my hand. It was sliding down really bad and the next two, it just run me into my hand.”
He then decided to switch back to his Brazilian instead of worrying too much about being stuck in a 1-for-6 slump to start the second half.
“I said it was all in my head and I am going to go back to using the Brazilian I have been using for years,” he said.
Jenkins grew up in Highlandville, Missouri, which is about 30 minutes from JQH Arena, before he moved to New Mexico in eighth grade. He first got started riding calves and steers in the Missouri Junior Rodeo Circuit when he was 6 years old and fell in love with the sport.
He has never won a BFTS event in Springfield and said he would love to do so Sunday when his family is set to be in attendance.
“It would be awesome, especially to get the last half of the season started right and kind of have some momentum going into the Finals would help me out a bunch,” Jenkins said. “To win here in Springfield, where I am from, would be that much greater.”
Rounding out the Top 5 heading into Saturday night’s Round 2 was J.W. Harris (87.5 points), Gage Gay (87.25), Fabiano Vieira (85.5) and Joao Ricardo Vieira (84).
2. Harris impresses, but suffers concussion from wreck into chutes
Harris put forth an impressive 87.5-point ride in a rematch against Long John, which earned the high-praise of PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
However, the ride brought consequences.
Harris, who was eventually awarded the points following a review, was thrown against the right side bucking chutes before being stomped on in the head by Long John.
Harris remained down for a few minutes prior to being helped to sports medicine.
The four-time PRCA champion was diagnosed with a concussion and an aggravation of a previous lower back sprain by Dr. Tandy Freeman. Harris is questionable for Round 2.
During a section break, Lambert went and checked on Harris before explaining how strong of a ride the May, Texas, cowboy made.
“J.W. Harris made a hell of a ride on one they don’t ride,” Lambert said. “The score won’t reflect it, but that is something special. You won’t see that bull get rode – maybe not again this year, and when he does, it is going to take somebody like that to ride him.”
Harris joins Douglas Duncan and Guilherme Marchi as the only two riders to have made the 8-second mark on Long John in his 11 BFTS outs this year.
He began the weekend as the top alternate and is ranked 31st in the world. If Harris is able to compete the rest of the weekend, he would be able to potentially crack the ever-important Top 30.
3. Joao Ricardo Vieira reclaims world title lead
Just like he did a week ago in Nashville, Joao Ricardo Vieira capped off Round 1 by reclaiming the top spot in the world standings. The 2013 Rookie of the Year dispatched Marchi from the No. 1 ranking after Vieira rode Cuervo for 84 points for the sixth and final qualified ride of the night.
Marchi was bucked off by Thunder Struck in 3.78 seconds.
Vieira leads Marchi by 119.44 points in the world standings.
Fabiano Vieira had a very brief stay atop the world standings after he rodeOne Shot for 85.5 points a ride before Joao. He remains in third place and sits 169.38 points out of the top spot heading into Saturday night’s second round.
World No. 4 Silvano Alves and No. 5 Mike Lee each bucked off their first-round bulls, Diesel and Lil’ Z.
With 1,200 points up for grabs during this weekend’s three-day event, both Vieiras made sure to start things off on the right foot in Springfield.
Markus Mariluch, currently 10th in the world standings, tore his right biceps (riding arm) attempting to ride Jo Jo in the first round. He is listed as doubtful for Round 2.
Scottie Knapp suffered a potential right ankle fracture when he twisted his ankle after being thrown from Bruiser in 3.86 seconds. He is probable for Round 2. Knapp had just returned to competition after missing the past two events with a separated right shoulder (free arm) that he sustained in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Jordan Hupp (pulmonary contusions/torn abdominal oblique muscle) andStormy Wing (concussion) both returned to action this weekend after getting hurt in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Six riders competed with injuries in Round 1: Marchi (sprained right knee), Fabiano Vieira (unstable right shoulder), Ryan Dirteater (unstable left knee), Renato Nunes (unstable right shoulder), Zane Lambert (sprained left knee) and Billy Robinson (sports hernia).
J.B. Mauney did not compete due to a lower back injury that he suffered last week after being bucked off by Spotted Juice in Nashville, while Kody Lostroh also was out after aggravating his chronic wrist injury last week when riding Deer Me for 86.5 points.
Kasey Hayes remained out after fracturing his jaw two weeks ago in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Other riders that are not competing in Springfield include Robson Palermo (right shoulder surgery), Shane Proctor (right shoulder surgery), Sean Willingham (dislocated hip) and Ty Pozzobon (right knee).
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