Behind the Chutes: Triplett Returning for Home State Event

PUEBLO, Colo. – It hadn’t even been 24 hours after he had torn his MCL that Matt Triplett sat in the locker room inside the WisePies Arena in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he said that he would be back in time for the Built Ford Tough Series event in Billings, Montana.

It didn’t matter that his crutches were propped up against his chair and that in the moment there was fear he may need surgery.

Triplett was prepared to do anything possible to try and return in time.

Now, Triplett is set to return to action four weeks after tearing his MCL this coming Friday at the Stanley Performance in Action Invitational in Billings, Montana.

The No. 2 bull rider in the world has been rehabbing at the Michael Johnson Performance facility in McKinney, Texas, and is waiting to receive a left knee brace that he will compete with Friday.

“It is going great,” Triplett said. “They really worked it good and things are feeling a lot better.”

Triplett has never ridden with a brace before.

The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider is excited to be able to compete in his home state event for the second time after finishing in third place last year.

“I just love the atmosphere in Billings,” Triplett said. “The fans that come out to it make it a lot easier for us to make better bull rides. It is kind of like the Ty Murray Invitational, everybody knows what is going on. There is a bull riding world in Montana so it is cool to have that fan base where they know what is going on and they get really excited when you make a great bull ride. That motivates most of the riders.”

Triplett trails world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira by 295 points heading into this weekend’s event. He will also compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night against Wicked (14-3, BFTS).

The 15/15 Bucking Battle can be seen Sunday on CBS network television at 2 p.m. ET.

Here are the matchups for this weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle

Cody Nance vs. Walk Off

Stetson Lawrence vs. Percolator

Shane Proctor vs. Beaver Creek Beau 

Mike Lee vs. Spotted Demon

Fabiano Vieira vs. Little Red Jacket

Nathan Schaper vs. Mick E Mouse

Ben Jones vs. Stone Sober

Reese Cates vs. Boot Jack

Kaique Pacheco vs. Jeremiah

J.W. Harris vs. Cooper Tires Brown Sugar

Guilherme Marchi vs. Smooth Operator

Tanner Byrne vs. American Sniper

Valdiron de Oliveira Sweet Pro’s Long John

Matt Triplett vs. Wicked

Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. I’m A Gangster Too

Wicked is 5-0 this season and recently bucked off Nathan Schaper in 7.99 seconds in the Nampa, Idaho, 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Triplett admitted it was hard to helplessly watch Vieira overtake his spot atop the world standings.

“That is kind of why I took last weekend off,” Triplett said. “I knew I wasn’t quite ready to come back and perform like I had at the beginning of the year and I wanted to make sure everything was right before I came back. In the beginning I wasn’t going to be back in Billings, but after the MRI and everything I was really shooting for Nampa. I could have rode in Nampa, but I went and talked to Tandy (Freeman) and he said it would be a good idea to give it one more week. I am expecting to come back and do as well as I can and stay on every bull that I can.”

Triplett acknowledged he is roughly at 75-80 percent, but he is still ready to try and hunt down the No. 1 ranking in the world standings one bull at a time.

“Coming in not being number one gives me a little bit more of a motivational advantage,” Triplett said. “I am really hungry right now, having to take (two events) off. Really, I can’t wait to get back on bulls right now.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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