Behind the Chutes: St. Louis, Day 1

ST. LOUIS – Here are three things we learned following Round 1 of the Bass Pro Chute Out on Friday night at Scottrade Center.

Triplett extends streak of perfection despite flu

Even the flu can’t slow down world leader Matt Triplett.

The 23-year-old bull rider was able to make a veteran adjustment around the 2-second mark against Easy Money before holding on for 86.25 points to finish Round 1 in second place behind Ryan Dirteater despite coming down with flu-like symptoms Friday morning.

“When you are not feeling 100 percent, and you have the flu, you just need to dig down deep,” Triplett said. “That bull really wanted to well-me-in there and I just let him pick me back up and went on with him.”

Triplett, who earned 60 points toward the world standings, has now ridden all 13 bulls he has attempted this season in the first and second rounds of Built Ford Tough Series events. He has ridden five consecutive bulls overall and eight of his last 10.

He also edged Silvano Alves by .25 points in the round to extend his world lead over Alves, who earned 50 points for finishing the round in third place, to 790 points. Alves covered XD Sports Double Agent for 86 points before being tossed into the Wrangler sign near the exit gate.

Prior to climbing in the bucking chute, Triplett listened to motivational speaker Eric Thomas’ speech about Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who famously scored 38 points in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals for the Chicago Bulls.

Triplett may not have appeared as ill as Jordan did during that legendary game, but he was beginning to look quite pale as he walked back to the locker room.

“If you can just stay focused even when things aren’t going your way it will pay off no matter what,” Triplett concluded.

Dirteater wins his second round of 2015

Ryan Dirteater jumped to 11th in the world standings after winning his second round of the 2015 BFTS by riding Little Joe for 87 points after the bull nearly slammed Dirteater’s head into the front of the bucking chute just as he nodded his head.

“I just knew he was good and, sure enough, it worked out,” Dirteater said. “It got the job done. The bull felt good, right around the right, up and down and just what I wanted in the first round.”

It is his third-highest scored ride of the season and the third that he has scored in the 87-point bracket. Dirteater won Round 1 in Sacramento, California, two weeks ago with an 87.5-point ride on Houla Hoop.

Dirteater’s father, Randy, was in attendance Friday and made the 6-hour drive from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with his son to the event.

“It was a pretty sticky bull ride,” Randy said. “He did what he had to do and that is about all you can ask for in this sport. It was a good rank bull and he did his job.”

Dirteater earned 100 points toward the world standings for the Round 1 win and will take on Spin City in Round 2, as well as Mississippi Hippy during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.

Colorful shirt pays off again for Mason

Dave Mason decided to keep his lucky trend going on Friday after notching two rides in Anaheim wearing colorful shirts.

Mason rode re-ride bull Dakota Style’s Hy Test for 82.25 points in St. Louis while wearing a bright orange shirt that was given to him by his friend and fellow bull rider Sam Dillon in Australia.

“Everyone is different and we all have our own things,” Mason said. “I have always been a real out-there-sort-of-fella having fun. Even at home, when everybody is looking for me, they just look for the brighter shirt and there I am.”

Mason finished the round in eighth place.

Coincidence or not, Mason began last weekend 2-for-2 in Anaheim before bucking off his final two bulls after switching from two colorful shirts to a black one. He has three packed for this weekend.

Mason’s ride in St. Louis was actually very similar to his second-round ride in Anaheim as he got hung up in the final second for the second consecutive week.

“I started good and that bull sort of got to working on me,” Mason said. “He wanted me in there, then out of there and pulled me down. He just got me shook loose there at the end. You just keep your hand shut and stay on.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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