By: Justin Felisko
March 17, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Four-time PRCA champion J.W. Harris was amidst his 9-hour drive to Albuquerque on Friday morning when he took some time to reflect on his disappointing start to the 2017 PBR season that resulted in him being cut from the Built Ford Tough Series last month.
Harris didn’t mince his words when discussing his 2017 failures.
“It was pretty embarrassing getting cut,” Harris said. “It was a pretty big one. It was nobody’s fault that I got cut but my own. I wasn’t doing my job. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do. I probably deserved to get cut, but I know I ride better than what I have been.
“If I ride better, I shouldn’t get cut.”
Harris is competing at this weekend’s Ty Murray Invitational following his best performance of the year last weekend in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
The 30-year-old won the Touring Pro Division event, while also taking second place, by going 4-for-4. Harris averaged 87.25 points per ride and won the event with an 88.5 points on Big Sexy.
A week earlier, Harris placed fourth at the Hampton, Virginia, Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event.
Harris earned 110 points toward the world standings in two weeks and arrives in Albuquerque ranked 35th in the world.
Round 1 begins Friday night exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.
“My body feels like it is back in shape,” Harris said. “I am able to make them moves with ease. I am starting to make the bulls look easy. I feel like I am back to where I was before I got hurt. Making them look easy and riding them like you are supposed to.”
Harris began the year 3-for-14 through five Built Ford Tough Series events before losing his draw spot after accumulating only 82.5 points toward the world standings.
He was ranked 43rd in the world standings following the Kansas City Invitational and headed home to Texas ticked off and in need of some reflection.
Harris even thought about going back to simply rodeoing full time.
“That thought definitely crossed my mind,” he admitted. “I made PBR Finals. I was PBR Rookie of the Year. Do I want to go back?
“Me and (my wife) Jackie talked about it. We thought it would be a little silly if I don’t try to get back on tour.”
Therefore, after failing to qualify for THE AMERICAN in February, Harris decided to take a two full weeks off.
It was time to rededicate himself like he had been doing last summer while recovering from the multiple surgeries that ended his 2016 season.
“I brought everything back down to earth and put everything in perspective,” Harris said. “We revamped and shocked the system, you could say.”
Jackie, introduced him to Savannah Powell, a personal trainer in Goldwaite, Texas, and Harris now has someone pushing him in the gym.
“I need that extra push because I am not a big workout guy,” he said. “I absolutely hate working out. I can’t go up there and work out by myself.”
It has now been a little over year since Harris underwent the first of three surgeries that essentially wiped out his 2016 campaign.
In February 2016, Harris had right elbow surgery before getting left hip surgery in April. He then underwent right knee surgery in June following a life-threatening car crash.
J.W. was never a big workout guy during his mid-20s, but he felt he didn’t have to because he would be getting on so many bulls throughout the week at various rodeos.
However, he hadn’t been on a BFTS bull since Jan. 30 prior to the start of this season.
“Shoot, I just was out of shape,” Harris said. “There is a difference between being in shape and being in bull riding shape. I wasn’t working out, but I wasn’t needing to because I was getting on bulls constantly (in the past). Then I wasn’t getting on bulls.
“I think this was a combo of being out of shape and not being on a bull for almost a year.”
The last month was not only a gut check, but it was the kind of mental reset Harris believes he needed.
“It was nice to step away from all of the lights and cameras,” Harris said. “Just ride bulls. No one is bothering you for interviews. There isn’t a camera in your face. To be honest, it was a nice change of pace. You could step back and realize why you ride bulls. You go back to the first reason you started riding bulls. The pure fun of it. Not the money. Not the pay. Not the notoriety. You just show up and ride bulls. It was kind of refreshing.”
The end of this month will be the three-year anniversary of Harris’ highly-anticipated BFTS debut.
Now Harris is working his way up the PBR ranks from essentially the bottom up.
“You get a chance to clear your mind and get to thinking about what you are doing this weekend,” Harris concluded. “It will be a big weekend, for sure, but I am just going to show up and have fun. I have a good one (Chute Boss) for my first one.
“We are going to take it day-by-day and not catch ourselves looking toward Sunday.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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