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Harris Diagnosed with Herniated Disc in his Neck

PUEBLO, Colo. – 2014 Rookie of the Year J.W. Harris has been ruled out for the Des Moines Invitational this weekend because of a herniated disc (C6-7) in his neck, according to Dr. Tandy Freeman.

Harris has been dealing with numbness in his riding hand and met with Freeman earlier this week for additional analysis.

The No. 9 bull rider in the world standings said this weekend that he believed the injury to his riding arm occurred in Seattle against Smooth Operator when he was bucked off in 2.44 seconds during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.

“My right hand and my arm is just going numb and I can’t explain it other than it just goes numb,” Harris said. “It doesn’t hurt. I feel like a big sissy because nothing is hurting. It is just numb and feels like it weighs 100 pounds.

“It is just one of those deals where it got progressively worse.”

Harris has gone 0-for-5 since then, lasting just 4.33 seconds per ride attempt. Overall, Harris is 16-for-46 (34.48 percent) this season and won his first career event in Kansas City, Missouri, in February.

According to Freeman, the four-time PRCA champion is probable for the Rumble in the Rockies on May 2-3 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Harris confirmed on Thursday that he expects to ride in Colorado Springs and was looking into some options to help rehab the injury this week.

The 28-year-old was replaced by Tanner Byrne in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, which takes place on Saturday night following Round 1 and can be seen on CBS network television Sunday at 2 p.m. ET

Byrne will face Cooper Tires Semper Fi in the 15/15.

Ben Jones opted out of the 15/15 Bucking Battle with his pre-existing neck injury and has been replaced by Kasey Hayes.

Hayes will take on Panda Trax, who bucked him off in 2.9 seconds at the 2014 Iron Cowboy.

Below are a list of this weekend’s matchups:
Cody Nance vs. Yo Yo
Stetson Lawrence vs. Lane’s Magic Train
Shane Proctor vs. Spotted Demon
Mike Lee vs. Mississippi Hippy
J.B. Mauney vs. Air Time
Fabiano Vieira vs. Who Dey
Kasey Hayes vs. Panda Trax
Tanner Byrne vs. Cooper Tires Semper Fi
Reese Cates vs. Little Joe
Nathan Schaper vs. David’s Dream
Kaique Pacheco vs. Boot Jack
Guilherme Marchi vs. Pistol Pete
Valdiron de Oliveira vs. Cooper Tires Brown Sugar
Matt Triplett vs. Diesel
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Barracuda

Nance, Lee, Schaper and Lawrence have rematches against their respective bulls, and all five riders have failed to hit the 8-second mark on their opponent.

Including Harris and Jones, there are now six riders inside the Top 30 out because of injury: Alves (fractured left hip), Chase Outlaw (rotator cuff surgery) L.J. Jenkins (fractured neck), Eduardo Aparecido (facial lacerations, concussion and an unspecified left hip injury).

Therefore, Claudio Criostomo (36th in the world standings), Bryan Titman (No. 38), Alexandre Cardozo (No. 39) and Tyler Harr (No. 39) are in the draw as this weekend’s alternates.

No. 37 Sean Willingham would have been eligible, but he is out with a broken neck (C7 right facet).

Crisostomo begins the weekend 123.75 points behind Douglas Duncan for the No. 30 spot in the world standings. He will face High as a Kite (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1.

Titman is 138.75 points behind and has drawn Buck Even (1-1, BFTS), while Cardozo is 173.75 points behind and faces Crystal Pistol (9-4, BFTS). Harr (-173.75) takes on Pretty Reckless (1-2, BFTS).

Saturday will be Buck Even’s season-debut since Triplett had ridden him for 85.25 points last year in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Duncan will try to build off his Round 2 win last weekend in Billings when he tries to kick off his weekend in Des Moines with a ride aboard Stiff Arm.

No. 31-35 is just as tight in the world standings: Dave Mason (-43.75 points behind Duncan), Rubens Barbosa (-62.5), Robson Aragao (-106.25), Robson Palermo (-106.25) and Aaron Roy (-118.75) can easily crack the Top 30 with a good weekend.

There is less than 100 points separating No. 33 Aragao from No. 43 Austin Meier.

Jorge Valdiviezo is in the draw as a BlueDEF Velocity Tour winner after he split the win in Jacksonville, Florida, with Mason Lowe last month.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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