By: Justin Felisko
April 14, 2018
TACOMA, Wash. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, on Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Castro wins Round 1 to become world No. 1 rider
Luciano de Castro’s voice may have been a little uneasy on Saturday night as he described his nervousness about returning to competition for the first time since tearing his right MCL four weeks ago, but his riding was far from shaky.
Castro rode his re-ride bull Beast of Burden for 88.75 points to win Round 1 and take over the world No. 1 ranking.
“I just want to thank God,” Castro said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “It is a really special night. Every cowboy dreams to be in the No. 1 position. I have been hurt and I didn’t know how it was going to be like with my (knee) brace. Everything went fine.”
Castro earned 100 points for the round victory and moves ahead of No. 2 Ramon de Lima by 30 points.
Lima finished in fifth place in Round 1 for 30 world points by riding Stars and Stripes for 86 points.
Castro admitted earlier in the evening that he was unsure how his knee would respond in his first competition since tearing his MCL during his 87-point ride on Acting Crazy at the Ty Murray Invitational.
However, he didn’t hesitate when he was awarded a re-ride option after an underwhelming performance from Drain The Swamp and a 72-point score.
“My knee hurt a little bit, but I figured I could do another one,” Castro said. “It worked out perfect.”
Lima nearly regained the world lead from Castro in the 15/15 Bucking Battle before bucking off More Big Bucks in 7.79 seconds.
Castro had bucked off Livin’ Large in 3.56 seconds in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
The 21-year-old will now look to follow 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood’s lead and earn the event victory in his first event back from injury.
Castro has drawn Dusty’s Revenge (19-1, PBR UTB) for Round 2 on Sunday at the Tacoma Dome.
Lockwood, who was bucked off by Pearl Harbor in the 15/15 Bucking Battle before failing to reach 8 seconds on his re-ride bull I Always Stand, won the Unleash The Beast event last weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after missing two weeks with a riding hand injury.
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 1 was Sean Willingham (87.25 points on Jasper), Marco Eguchi (87.25 points on Freckles) Lockwood (86.25 points on Mortimer) and Lima.
Willingham had last made the 8-second mark on the premier series on March 20, 2015.
He also won a premier series event in Tacoma in 2006.
“It has been a long time ain’t it?” Willingham said. “I think it is time to change the date and do it again this year.”
Willingham moved from 50th in the world standings to 42.
The 36-year-old announced earlier this year that 2018 will be his final season.
Willingham is only 65 points behind No. 35 Cody Heffernan to re-gain a spot on the Unleash The Beast heading into Round 2.
“Time never runs out in this sport,” Willingham said. “You never know what to expect or what is going to happen. You just keep plucking along every weekend going, going and going. When it is meant to be, it is meant to be. I got the call late this week on Wednesday and I said I will be there.
“I am here now and I need to capitalize on it tomorrow and be here for the rest of the year.”
World No. 4 Leme tears left ACL during 15/15 Bucking Battle
Jose Vitor Leme sat in the PBR Sports Medicine room and tried to comprehend what tearing his left ACL may mean.
Leme was bucked off by Shelley’s Gangster in 4.94 seconds and landing awkwardly on his left knee.
The 21-year-old will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the extent of his injuries, but Dr. Tandy Freeman has initially diagnosed Leme with a torn ACL.
“When I got bucked off, I had one leg in the air and the other one touched the ground,” Leme said with the help of Crimber translating. “Then I felt my knee pop. I hope for the best it won’t be too bad. I feel like tomorrow I will be good to go, but I will do an MRI on Tuesday to make sure it is nothing worse.”
Leme is fourth in the world standings and only 120 points behind Castro.
The 2017 Rookie of the Year may still ride on Championship Sunday, but he is unsure of how his body will respond or how he will respond.
If the MRI confirms the tear, it would be the first time Leme has ever tore a ligament.
“It is hard to say how bad it is because I have never been hurt before,” Leme said. “I am not proud to be like this. I have never been injured in my whole life and to be out of competition. If it does get to a point where I can’t ride, this would be a first.”
Nance wins 15/15 Bucking Battle
In an unexpected turn of events, all it took to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday was a qualified ride.
Cody Nance was the only rider to cover his bull and rode Painted Pudge for 84.75 points as the other 14 riders in the bonus round all bucked off their respective bulls.
“A win is a win,” Nance said. “Painted Pudge was supposed to jump and kick and go out there either way. They said he had been rode a couple of times, but I never had seen him. I looked up some videos this week and he looked good. Justin (McBride) came up to me before the bull riding and said that bull fits me good. He said, ‘You just stay up there at that front end like you do and keep scratching and clawing and you will ride him.’ That is what I did. Praise God.”
Nance earned 150 world points for his second career 15/15 Bucking Battle win and the No. 3 rider in the world standings is a mere 64.17 points behind regaining the world No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2014.
“Every one of them counts toward the world title like they announce all night long,” Nance said.
It was a 15/15 Bucking Battle of what ifs and close calls with four riders bucking off past the 7-second mark – Lima, Lockwood, Eduardo Aparecido (7.51 seconds on Fire & Smoke) and Cooper Davis (7.32 seconds on Catfish John).
Spotted Demon was the high-marked bull of the 15/15 Bucking Battle with 45.5 points for taking care of Kaique Pacheco in 4.23 seconds.
“I was a little nervous because he had ridden him before so for him to have a good trip makes me happy,” stock contractor Julio Moreno said. “I want the guys to ride them, but to see him buck him off was pretty good. That helps Spotted Demon stay in the race.”
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Paulo Lima sustained a bruised right elbow (riding arm) when he was stepped on by Clifford in Round 1. Lima is questionable for Round 2.
Rosendo Ramirez is questionable as well after sustaining a concussion when he was bucked off by White Dynomite on Saturday night.
Wallace de Oliveira aggravated a pre-existing right knee sprain when he was
thrown from Humberto in Round 1.
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