TULSA, Okla. – Here are three things we learned from the Express Employment Professionals Classic on Saturday night at the BOK Center.
Aragao dances and rides his way to third-place finish
There have been many instances this season where Robson Aragao would be in his own head and be intimidated by the bulls he was drawn against.
This weekend, Aragao arrived to the BOK Center in a more relaxed and jovial mood than normal.
Aragao was boastfully walking around the locker room shirtless earlier in the day and flexing his biceps like the notorious pro wrestler Scott Steiner.
Aragao laughed and asked, “Hey, J.B., you jealous?”
J.B. Mauney simply rolled his eyes at Aragao and went back to preparing his bull rope an hour before the event.
Mauney had better things to do, such as winning his second BFTS event in a row.
Still, it was a big weekend for Aragao.
Aragao ended up going 2-for-3 to finish second behind Mauney and earn 320 points toward the world standings.
He is now the 19th bull rider in the world after entering Tulsa ranked 28th.
Aragao pushed himself to the second-place finish with the first championship-round ride of his career by riding Lane’s Magic Train for 87.5 points.
“Everyone is surprised. I am surprised,” Aragao said. “I thought, ‘What the hell?’ I rode two good bulls this weekend. That was a lot of fun. I tried my best.”
Aragao’s ride went to a review, but it didn’t stop the 35-year-old from dancing his way to the roar of the Tulsa fan base.
The ride is the second-highest of his career.
Aragao had planned on selecting Boot Jack in the championship-round bull draft, but Michael Lane picked him one spot earlier.
Luckily for Aragao, three-time World Champion Silvano Alves gave him some advice.
“I wanted Boot Jack because I rode him before,” Aragao said. “Silvano said, ‘You need to have another bull’. He said, ‘Sometimes he spins right and sometimes he spins left, but you try.’ I said, ‘OK. I trust you. You are a three-time World Champion.’
Aragao earned 60 points for placing second in the round and the ride placed him second in the event average for 240 points.
He earned 50 points for a third-place finish in the second round. He rode Little Joe for 86.5 points.
Aragao is now one step closer to qualifying for his second career World Finals. He last competed at the Thomas & Mack Center for PBR’s showcase event in 2010.
“I had more confidence because I have been getting more preparation here on the Built Ford Tough,” Aragao said. “I ride pretty good in the Touring Pros. I need to make the Finals this year. It has been a while.”
MAUNEY MAKES SURE HE FINISHES THE JOB
When J.B. Mauney won his first BFTS event (Des Moines, Iowa) back after sustaining a torn ACL earlier this season, the 28-year-old was disappointed he didn’t finish the job with a ride aboard Modified Clyde.
On Saturday night, Mauney convinced himself that he needed to earn the victory atop DaNutso even though his event win was already locked up.
“I felt like, if I pick one I should ride him,” Mauney said. “I was coming back sitting in first. Whether or not I had to ride him, I told myself when I got in the chute that I had to and made myself believe I had to ride him to win it.”
He did just that by riding DaNutso for 89.75 points to win the championship round on top of his event victory.
The two previously met during the Champion’s Challenge in Decatur, Texas, when DaNutso bucked him off in 7.4 seconds.
“In Decatur, he was pretty much the same,” Mauney said. “I made a mistake on him down there and he got my hips to the outside and that bull has enough backup and whip to him if you get behind you just a little bit he is going to slam you. That is why I was really making sure I kept my hips up on my bull rope and to the inside where they needed to be.”
Mauney earned 200 of his season-high 630 points via round victories. He won Round 1 on Friday night with a 91.25-point ride on Buck Autism.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider earned 30 points with a fifth-place finish in Round 2 after riding Gentleman Jim for 86 points.
Mauney will head to Nashville for the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout – the last PBR Major of the season – trailing world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira by 167.5 points. Mauney was 1,662.5 points behind Vieira when he returned from that torn ACL in Des Moines.
Vieira (1-for-2) earned no points toward the world standings in Tulsa.
Rounding out the Top 5 in Tulsa was Aragao, Shane Proctor (180 points), Reese Cates (115 points) and Eduardo Aparecido (105 points).
CATES WINS ROUND 2; SURVIVES CLOSE CALL
Reese Cates won Round 2 with an 87.5-point ride on Crazy Horse, but it wasn’t exactly easy.
Cates was able to handle the bovine athlete, but it was his decision to run toward the bucking chutes after dismounting that got him in trouble.
The El Dorado, Arkansas, bull rider ended up getting trapped against the chute and getting struck by Crazy Horse.
Cates was able to eventually shake off the blow and attempted to ride Mississippi Hippy to no avail (5.07 seconds) in the championship round.
The round victory helped give Cates 100 points toward the world standings and he left Tulsa with 115 total points.
Matt Triplett (60 points), Aragao, Mike Lee (40 points) and Mauney finished second through fifth in Round 2.
Triplett rode Legal Tender for 86.75 points and gained 70 points on Vieira. The No. 3 bull rider trails Vieira by 992.5 points.
“I was just overthinking things and trying to hard or maybe not trying enough,” Triplett said. “Tonight, my mom said the best thing to me. She said, ‘Quit trying too hard. Just stay focused. You are good at riding bulls and just need to start showing it again.”
Wicked bucked off Triplett for the third time in his career when he dumped the Columbia Falls, Montana, native in 3.77 seconds during the championship round.
Cates began the weekend 11th in the world and heads to Nashville ranked ninth.
“I knew coming into the round I had a good one,” Cates said. “The last few I had been on didn’t really fit me that good. They were really kind of getting up in the air with not a lot of kick. Sometimes that is hard for me to stay in time with them. Some guys fare better on those bulls.
“I had a great opportunity and I took advantage of it.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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