By: Justin Felisko
January 04, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2016 Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS) season kicks off Saturday night inside Chicago’s Allstate Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
Today, we look at Matt Triplett, who finished the 2015 season fifth in the world standings.
No. 5 Matt Triplett
World Championships: 0
Best World Standings Finish: 3rd (2014)
2015 BFTS Stats:
Riding Percentage: 42.31 percent
Top Ride: 90.75 points on Delco in Chicago
Wins: 2 (Oklahoma City; Anaheim, California)
15/15 Bucking Battle Victories: 1 (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
Round Wins: 7
Top 10: 14
Top 5: 6
90-point Rides: 3
2015 Recap: Matt Triplett took the next step in his career last year on the BFTS. He sat atop the world standings for eight consecutive weeks – the first time in his career that he was ever ranked No. 1 – and won his first two career BFTS events (Oklahoma City and Anaheim, California).
Triplett was cruising atop the standings before he faced his first major obstacle of his BFTS career. The 2015 World Champion contender sustained a torn left MCL at the Ty Murray Invitational when Coyote kicked him in the leg after being thrown at the 3.69-second mark.
Luckily, Triplett was able to avoid surgery, but the injury did cost him the world lead and two events.
It also halted momentum he built up through the first 12 weeks of the season.
He returned four weeks later for his home state event in Billings, Montana, but he couldn’t recapture his mojo from before the injury. He bucked off every bull he attempted in April and battled an 0-for-7 slump until the Rumble in the Rockies. In Colorado Springs, Triplett regained his confidence by going 4-for-4, including an 87-point ride on Redbone in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
However, Triplett would go just 8-for-27 (29.63 percent) in the final nine events of the season.
The PBR stretch run was a slow one for Triplett, who struggled outside of his 15/15 Bucking Battle victory in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The slow finish to the season prevented Triplett from setting a career-high in qualified rides as he wound up tying his career-mark (33).
Outlook: Triplett will not make his season debut until February after undergoing right elbow surgery on his riding arm on Nov. 6.
After admittedly returning too fast from a torn left MCL in April, Triplett has decided to take extra precautions this offseason as he recovers from right elbow surgery on his riding arm.
Triplett had two torn ligaments and bone spurs cleaned up after sustaining the injury during the fifth round of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals attempting to ride Calypso.
“It was a pain I never felt before,” Triplett said in December. “I couldn’t even really move my elbow. I figured something was really wrong.”
However, missing the first month of the season is by no means a deal breaker.
Just look at J.B. Mauney and his 2015 championship-performance.
The biggest question in 2016 for Triplett will be how he responds from the injury, as well as adversity.
During his breakthrough season in 2015, Triplett became a rising star in the PBR. With that success came an added responsibility with the media spotlight and interview requests.
Triplett will need to continue to learn how to deal with outside expectations, while continuing to build on his success of his first three years.
The 24-year-old has done a good job improving in each of his first three seasons on tour and 2016 should be no different.
The talent is there and Triplett shown the ability to win BFTS rounds (seven) in 2015, which helped him post his second consecutive Top-5 finish in the world standings.
One area that will certainly help elevate Triplett is converting in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round. The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider went 4-for-18 in the championship round in 2015.
If Triplett can continue to improve, make a healthy return to the BFTS and begin to convert more in the championship round it is likely he can put himself in the Top-5 conversation for a third year in a row.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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