By: Justin Felisko
June 17, 2016
BISMARCK, N.D. – Reigning Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger wet his lips and awkwardly paced back and forth when asked who had the better ride on Crossfire this year following the first night of the 16th annual Dakota Community Bank & Trust BlueDEF Tour event, presented by Cooper Tires.
Berger wanted to, at first, call it a draw after watching Jess Lockwood become just the second rider to ride Crossfire in 53 outs at all levels of competition when he rocked the Bismarck Civic Center with a 92-point ride Friday night, but Berger could still vividly recall Cooper Davis’ sensational 91.5-point ride at the Ty Murray Invitational in March.
Put on the spot, Berger finally decided to give an answer.
“It was pretty darn close,” Berger said. “I want to call it a draw. Truthfully, if I was being honest with you, Cooper’s was (better). I am not taking anything away from Jess. That was one hell of a ride. He made that bull look easy. Hats off to him.”
Lockwood selected Crossfire with the 11th pick of the championship round draft after earning a spot in the final round despite bucking off Whiskey Talks (6.84 seconds) in the first round.
There were 10 qualified rides in Round 1.
The 18-year-old didn’t wait long to go find Davis behind the bucking chutes to pick the brain of the first man to conquer Crossfire.
“After I picked him, I went and found my good buddy Cooper Davis and he gave me some advice,” Lockwood said. “He just said to really ride the front and set your hips. Just really leave there good with him because he likes to beat a lot of guys out of there.”
Lockwood stayed in strong position from the moment the gate cracked open and was able to maintain control as Crossfire spun away from his hand.
“It ended up working,” Lockwood added. “I am glad to join an elite group with Cooper.”
Coach Davis, who is the only rider to make 8 seconds on Crossfire in 27 Built Ford Tough Series outs, came away impressed with Lockwood’s clutch ride.
“Heck, that was as good of a ride you are going to see anywhere,” Davis said. “He made him look stupid. That is something I didn’t do when I got on him. It was a whole lot of grit and not letting go. Jess rode him as good as you can ride that bull.”
Davis was bucked off by Grandpa Joe in 2.16 seconds in Round 1.
Lockwood watched the replay of his Crossfire ride – a new career-high for him – on his brother, Jake’s, cell phone with his dad, Ed, looking over his shoulder before he even got off the back of the bucking chutes.
“Highest ever. Holy cow, that is the greatest feeling,” Lockwood said. “He kind of had me tipped out of there right away, but I just hustled and got back in there and the key to that bull is just getting to the front of that bull, set your hips and he then rides like a dream.”
It was a strong rebound performance for Lockwood after a disappointing second-place finish at the Montana High School Rodeo State Finals in Baker, Montana, last week.
Lockwood had won the previous three state championships.
“Yeah, that makes me feel better,” Lockwood said. “State wasn’t the greatest, but I am glad to be at this level of bulls again. It feels good to get a rank one rode like that. I bucked off in the first round here and looked pretty stupid. It is good to show everyone I can ride.”
The No. 15 ranked bull rider in the world standings earned 80 points for the victory and now trails No. 1 Kaique Pacheco by 1,142 points.
It is his second BlueDEF Tour victory of the year.
“He just went to the high school state finals this year and comes here this week to Bismarck and rides against the best guys in the world and comes up with the win,” Berger said shaking his head in partial disbelief. “I am proud of that little kid. I had seen him last summer and he was just tearing them up at these amateur bull ridings. I called Cody Lambert and I said, ‘He will be here, and he will be here soon.’”
Lockwood agreed with Berger that Davis’ ride was probably the better of the two, pointing out that Crossfire had a little more kick with him, but less speed compared to Davis’ ride.
Davis’ ride was into his right-hand, while Lockwood is left-handed.
“He was better with Cooper,” Lockwood said. “He had a little more kick with me, but he was bucking hard with Cooper.”
Both rides are the highest in each riders’ young careers and will go down as marque rides of the 2016 season.
And unlike other World Champion contenders Pacheco, J.B. Mauney, Fabiano Vieira and Joao Ricardo Vieira, who are a combined 0-for-8 against Crossfire, Davis and Lockwood have the prestigious honor of being the only two rides thus far to have successfully made the 8-second mark on the 2016 World Champion Bull contender.
Lockwood and Davis will be back in action Saturday night during the final night of competition in Bismarck. The event begins at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed exclusively on PBR LIVE.
The rider out of the 41 competing that earns the most money over the course of the two events will get an opportunity to take on 2012 World Champion Asteroid for an additional $10,000.
Regardless of which ride was better, Berger is happy to have seen two stellar bull rides aboard his 2016 World Champion Bull contender by two of the newest faces of the PBR.
“They are really close. I just thought he was a little snappier and a little quicker with Cooper,” Berger concluded. “Real comparable rides. I can see them both like it just happened, but I would have to give the edge to Cooper.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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