BILLINGS, Mont. – For Bushwacker, it was just another buckoff in a long and growing list of riders.
For L.J. Jenkins, it was another valuable lesson learned in the past three weeks and one that left the veteran rider wondering if he or anyone else will make the whistle the rest of this year on the two-time World Champion Bull.
“That bull is strong,” said Jenkins, who matched up with Bushwacker in the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Billings, Mont., to close out a full night of bull riding on Friday. “He uses his weight to his advantage. The bull’s rank and he’s the greatest bull out there, but he’s getting older and if you looked back a few years ago he would have been a little faster. Now he’s using that big weight and kind of lumbering out there and getting guys back on the end of their arm just like he did me two times now.”
Jenkins bucked off at 3.28 seconds.
Judges only marked Bushwacker with 44.25 points.
It was the first time Bushwacker has been marked under 45 points sinceShane Proctor bucked off of him in 4.8 seconds at a Built Ford Tough Series event in Springfield, Mo., back in September 2010.
More telling, it was his lowest score ever at a BFTS event. Early in his career, Bushwacker was marked under 45 points at a couple Touring Pro Division events, but has averaged 46.284 points throughout his BFTS career, including 57 buckoffs in 59 outs.
However, having been on him twice in the past three weeks, Jenkins said he’s as great as he’s ever been.
“Knowing what I know, I don’t know if we’ll see that bull get rode this year,” he said. It’s going to take the right trip, the right guy. He’s just so long. He’s a beast. That’s basically what it is.”
Jenkins added, “He’s smart. Not only is he big and rank, he’s also smart and if you put that all in on one bull you’re going to have the greatest bucking bull of all time. That’s what we (have) right there.”
Bushwacker, who will turn 8 on June 1, has now had 77 total career outs and 57 times he’s been the high-marked bull.
Earlier this year, owner Julio Moreno announced that 2014 will be Bushwacker’s final season.
He is in the midst of a highly-publicized farewell tour.
This was his fourth BFTS event in a row – a first for him in his career – and will next compete in May at the Last Cowboy Standing event in Las Vegas. He is also expected to buck once during the summer break at a TPD event in Bismarck, N.D., before competing three of four times this fall in anticipation of concluding his final season at the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“I’m not going to say that I don’t want to get on him again,” Jenkins said, “but I’ve done what I thought I could to ride him and obviously I can’t make it past two jumps on him. It would be nice to say I rode one of the greatest bulls of all time, but I don’t know. I really don’t know how I would go about it next time.”
Gage Gay won the 15/15 Bucking Battle, which will be broadcast Saturday afternoon on CBS at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Gay, who will be profiled this coming week on PBR.com, rode Percolatorfor 91.5 points, had admittedly been struggling since being pulled over the frontend of Corpus Red at the BFTS event in Albuquerque, N.M., and hit in the head and shoulder with a horn “about as hard as I’ve ever been hit.”
Following his second 90-point effort of the season, Gay said, “To be 91.5 on one after you’ve been falling off a few, it really boosts your confidence to the sky.”
Gay was one of four riders to make the whistle and one of three 90-point rides—all of which came in the first four outs of the round.
The 15/15 Bucking Battle features the Top 15 riders in the world against the rankest bulls at the event and in addition to ride scores, riders making the whistle are awarded double average points.
Montana native Matt Triplett finished second with 90.5 points on Mr. Bull, while Sean Willingham started the event with a 90-point effort on Pound the Alarm.
Fabiano Vieira was the lone rider currently ranked in the Top 10 to also make the whistle in the 15/15. He rode Palm Springs for 89 points and earned an additional 140 points in the average to close within 24.06 points of the No. 1 ranked rider in the world Guilherme Marchi.
Marchi bucked off Wicked in the 15/15 and both he and Vieira were unsuccessful earlier in the evening in the opening round of a long three-day event at the Rimrock Auto Arena.
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