CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Here are three things we learned from the Express Employment Professionals Invitational this weekend at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Gay uses two round wins to jump into Top 15 of world standings
Gage Gay will get another opportunity to appear on CBS national television next weekend when he competes in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, 15/15 Bucking Battle following a career-high two Built Ford Tough Series round wins in one event this weekend.
A night after winning Round 1 with an 88-point ride on Americana, Gay followed that up by kicking things off Saturday with an 88.5-point ride on Cowboy Up on the first out of the night.
The ride held up as the best in Round 2 and Gay earned another 100 points toward the world standings.
“I had seen Kaique (Pacheco) get on him last night, and as soon as I seen him I was like, ‘Man I want that bull sometime soon,’” Gay said. “It just so happened soon enough was the next day, so I am happy with it. He was just good.”
Not only are Gay and Pacheco both 21-year-old bull riders, they are also a similar size and build.
However, Gay doesn’t pay much attention to how certain bulls fit other similar-sized riders.
“My dad (Troy) tells me I should pay attention to it, but I never seem too,” Gay said.
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 2 was J.B. Mauney (87.25 points on Bad to the Bone), Stormy Wing (86.25 points on Mr. Mustachio), Stetson Lawrence (86 points on Superfreak), Eduardo Aparecido (85.75 points onSide Winder) and Fabiano Vieira (85.75 points on Blues Man).
Mauney was able to rebound from his Round 1 buckoff against Barstool Mountain and earned 60 of his 75 world points in Charlotte by placing second in the round.
“You get down to these last couple of events and you can’t let them get to you,” Mauney said. “You have to take every opportunity you can. They asked me earlier if you lay off the gas because you are sitting first. Hell no. You keep that gas pedal mashed to the floorboard because there are 35 guys wanting the same thing. They are not letting up.”
Mauney finished seventh overall in the event following his 4.57-second buckoff against Jared Allen’s Air Time in the championship round.
Air Time was marked 45.5 points for the out.
Gay went into the championship round leading the event average and was bucked off by Dakota Style’s Hy Test in 3.71 seconds.
He was originally going to select Percolator before Ben Jones convinced him to select Hy Test.
Gay finished second overall and earned a total of 440 points toward the world standings. The Staley, North Carolina, bull rider jumped from 23rd in the world to 14th.
Pacheco wins event and makes move in world standings
Rookie Kaique Pacheco stole the show from crowd favorite and North Carolina native Mauney this weekend by going 3-for-3 for his third BFTS event win of the season.
Most of all, he gained 475 points toward the world standings compared to 75 for Mauney.
The 21-year-old now sits just 560 points behind Mauney with two BFTS regular-season events remaining until the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Oct. 21-25.
Pacheco earned the victory by riding Sasquatch for 88.75 points in the championship round.
Sasquatch had bucked off his six consecutive BFTS opponents. The last rider to conquer Sasquatch was when Pacheco’s mentor Silvano Alves rode the bull for 89 points two years ago in Springfield, Missouri.
Once he saw the list of championship-round bulls, Pacheco knew he would select Sasquatch, especially after remembering how the bull bucked when Eduardo Aparecido attempted to ride him (7.18 seconds) in Biloxi, Mississippi, last month.
“I have watched that bull a couple of times on video and saw Eduardo get on him,” Pacheco said with the help of Robson Palermo translating. “I know he is a great bull bucking and he wants you to go to the outside a little bit. I know I had to make a really good ride to not buck off.”
To try and make sure he didn’t get caught out of position, Pacheco explained he adjusted his leg.
“I loosened up my leg and kind of spurred a little bit, so I stayed in the center a little bit and could make a good ride,” Pacheco added.
Pacheco rode Cowboy Up for 85.5 points in Round 1 on Friday night and Loco Lizard for 82 points on Saturday.
World No. 5 Fabiano Vieira gained 95 points on Mauney after going 2-for-3 and finishing in fourth place (170 world points).
Vieira rebounded from his first-round buckoff against Sunday Funday (6.96 seconds), to ride Blues Man for 85.25 points in Round 2 and Diesel for 88.5 points in the championship round.
He trails Mauney by 1,305 points.
Tanner Byrne wins championship round aboard Percolator
The major beneficiary of Gay’s last minute switch in the championship-round draft was Tanner Byrne.
Byrne, who was a fellow rookie last season with Gay, was able to select Percolator with the seventh pick of the draft and then took care of business aboard Jeff Robinson’s bovine athlete for 89.25 points.
“Man, I am telling you, I was looking at that list for a long time trying to figure out (who) to pick,” Byrne said. “I overthink that stuff to much as it is, but I never ever thought that far down I would have a chance at that one. When they left him for me, there was no question.”
It was an important out for Percolator, who was marked 43.75 points, after the bovine athlete ran off in the arena during the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout in Nashville, Tennessee, last month when Pacheco rode him for 76.5 points.
This week, PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert said that Percolator would need to improve if the bull was going to be invited to compete at the World Finals.
The final decision will not be in Byrne’s hands, but the 23-year-old hopes Percolator gets to appear at the World Finals again.
“I mean he had a bad trip last time, but them bulls are just like we are,” Byrne said. “We have bad days. A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t make it out of the chute. I figured a bull as good as that, he won’t have two bad trips in a row.”
It was the high-marked ride of the weekend and helped propel Byrne to a third-place finish for the second consecutive week.
Byrne moves from 14th in the world standings to 11th.
“It felt so good,” Byrne said. “I was kind of a little bit to the outside and he kicks and gets in the air so long that he gives you enough time to readjust and get back over there.
“That is one of my favorite bulls I have ever been on.”
The other four qualified rides in the championship round were Pacheco, Fabiano Vieira (88.5 points on Diesel) and Shane Proctor (88.25 points on I’m A Gangster Too).
Dr. Tandy Freeman has five riders listed as questionable for next weekend’s event in Allentown:
World No. 7 Nathan Schaper sustained a concussion in Round 2 attempting to ride Crooked Face before being struck by the bull’s head after being bucked off.
Reese Cates did not compete in the championship round after aggravating a pre-existing biceps strain (riding arm) during his 83.5-point ride on Camo.
Robson Aragao sustained a contusion of his right thumb (riding hand) when it got caught in the coil of his bull rope when he dismounted Freakster following his 66-point ride. He turned down his re-ride option.
Ben Jones missed Round 2 with a concussion from Round 1 when he was kicked in the head by Minnie’s Money.
Robson Palermo was out for Round 2 because of a right groin and lower abdominal strain that occurred during Round 1 on Friday night.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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