UVALDE, Texas – Josh Faircloth’s right eye may have been swollen shut on Saturday night at the Uvalde County Fairplex, but the 26-year-old wasn’t going to let that stop him from making the 8-second mark for the first time since having his ankle snapped by Crazy Days earlier this season.
Faircloth had missed the past three months following ankle surgery and the Cactus Jack PBR Bull Riding BlueDEF Velocity Tour event this weekend was his second event since the injury wiped him off the Built Ford Tough Series in January.
After being bucked off in the first round on Friday night, Faircloth responded by riding Maximum Justice for 85 points on Saturday even though he couldn’t see out of his swollen eye which was getting progressively worse.
“No, I can’t see nothing,” Faircloth said. “I don’t know what is wrong. It is blurry and it hurts. All you think about is whatever it takes to make the whistle. It was good to just get one rode after being out.”
Instead of burning an injury exemption last weekend for the Rumble in the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Faircloth, who was cleared to return to action on April 28, decided to head to Bonifay, Florida, for a Touring Pro Division event in hopes of getting a couple of rides under his belt before returning to the BFTS in August.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel,” Faircloth said. “I didn’t want to go to Colorado and get on one bull and not be able to come back. I am going to go the rest of this summer and come back after the summer break.”
Faircloth was bucked off by Megaton in 7.6 seconds and I’m Lucky in 4.7 seconds in Bonifay.
He hadn’t attempted any practice bulls before Bonifay. Once Faircloth returned from Florida, he got on a few bulls at Jerome Davis’ ranch to help improve his timing before Uvalde.
Faircloth finished 1-for-3 in Uvalde, but finally felt like he was getting back to his previous form that helped him qualify for the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals with a strong second-half of the season.
He concluded 2014 a career-best 33rd in the world standings.
Prior to breaking two bones in his ankle and tearing a ligament, Faircloth admitted he was struggling to use his feet on the BFTS. He had gone 1-for-8 in four events, and he has only earned 10 points toward the world standings this season.
“Before I got hurt, I couldn’t get ahold of my feet and I went to trying different spurs,” he said. “Jay Miller had a set of spurs and he said, ‘Try these.’ I put them on earlier when we were sitting around doing nothing and I liked them. For the first time, I felt myself getting a good hold and I felt good.”
It took about a month and a half before Faircloth was able to start walking around on his ankle post-surgery. He then spent the rest of his recovery helping out Jerome Davis on the ranch, riding on horseback and doing limited workouts in the gym.
He also judged some local bull riding events.
Of course, it took much less time to miss being away from the sport as a bull rider.
“It was killing me after the first week,” Faircloth said. “I never took time off like that. That was the longest I have ever been without getting on a bull since I started riding bulls. I never had to sit out that long.
“I was sitting back watching Gage (Gay) do good, and my traveling partners all over have been doing good. It made me want to come back, and now I am ready.”
Faircloth said that he is leaning toward not attending Last Cowboy Standing, the featured event of Cowboy Spring Break in Last Vegas, in two weeks, and will use the summer break to gain points toward the world standings on the BDVT and in the Touring Pro Division.
The Randleman, North Carolina, bull rider is no stranger to the PBR’s developmental tours. Faircloth appeared in only two first-half BFTS events last season before using a relentless summer schedule to earn an alternate spot for the second-half opener in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
He won three Touring Pro Division events last summer and competed at 19 events.
“I don’t know what it is, but I always seem to do good at the Touring Pro level,” Faircloth said. “I don’t know. It is bad to say, but when I show up to one of these, I know I am going to win. I need to get that same attitude when I get to the Built Ford Tough level. That is the only thing I haven’t found yet. I have to expect to win. Me and Jerome talk about it. You have to expect to win. It is just a head game. That is all it is.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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