ALLENTOWN, Pa. – It has been a busy couple of days for Jordan Hupp.
The 29-year-old bull rider arrived at the PPL Center on Friday a day after he and his wife, Philicia, closed on their new home on the opposite side of Stephenville, Texas, from where they previously lived. He spent most of Thursday moving things into the family’s new home before turning his focus toward entering his most important Built Ford Tough Series event of the 2014 season.
Hupp was sitting on the outside looking in when it came to this year’s upcoming Built Ford Tough World Finals. He was ranked 37th in the world standings when when he placed his gear bag down inside the locker room on Friday night.
Even though he had – and still has – a ton of housework to get to back to, Hupp had plenty to take care of in Allentown if he hoped to qualify for the World Finals for the fifth consecutive year. Hupp was in need of a big weekend to overcome a 305.38-point deficit in the world standings to crack the Top 35.
“That (was) the struggle, to not think about it, but you know, you try to just push it aside and not sweat it,” Hupp said at the conclusion of The Cooper Tires Take The Money and Ride BFTS event. “This is the hardest part about this sport – keeping your head on straight. I am trying real hard to and it worked out tonight.”
The bull rider from Cheyenne, Wyoming, used a 3-for-3 performance to finish second in the event average and jump from 37th to 33rd in the world standings by earning 623.75 points toward the world standings.
There was no question he was one of the main underdogs at the start of the weekend, yet Hupp was one of the calmest riders trying to claw his way to Finals a little over a month after Bullet Proof sent him to Denton (Texas) Regional Hospital to be evaluated for pulmonary contusions and a possible torn abdominal muscle during the Thackerville, Oklahoma, BFTS event.
He missed the Jack Daniel’s Invitational in Nashville, Tennessee, and returned to compete in Springfield, Missouri.
Hupp had plenty of time to become anxious Saturday night in Allentown before being the third-to-final rider to nod his head in the second round. By the time he sat in the bucking chute on Rock N Roll, it was necessary for him to get a qualified ride to advance to the championship round with Guilherme Marchi and Silvano Alves still to ride.
Hupp easily took care of the job, covering Rock N Roll for 82 points in the bull’s final BFTS regular-season out of his career.
“That was his last ride and he was retired after tonight so I was really honored to get on him for his last out and thrilled to get to the whistle on him,” Hupp said.
Next, Hupp immediately went to the scoring monitor near the out gate to look at the event average to see where he was sitting in the standings. He admits he wasn’t really concerned with where the other bubble riders, none of which qualified for the championship round other than Nathan Schaper, were in comparison to him, but rather he wanted to see where he was for the ensuing bull draft.
“I was right in that zone where I knew I wasn’t going to get enough points unless I covered that championship-round pick,” Hupp added.
Hupp then selected Who Dey with the sixth pick in the bull draft and rode the bull for a season-high 89.25-points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round to earn the second-place finish and a round win. He earned 100 bonus points for winning the championship round and an additional 270 points for his event placement.
The weekend even started with a tall task for Hupp in Round 1 when he was given a tough draw against Big Kahuna. The bull dislocated Sean Willingham’s hip and gave the veteran bull rider a concussion during the Newark, New Jersey, BlueDEF Velocity Tour event. Regardless, Hupp was able to become the first rider in four BFTS outs to conquer the bull and was awarded 82.5 points
“He is kind of a big scary, hard to ride sucker,” Hupp said. “It was good to knock one down some.”
It was the kind of weekend where the underdog kept battling his way up the once-seemingly unsurpassable mountain.
“Ninety percent of the guys here had the Finals made and didn’t have nothing to prove,” said CBS Sports color commentator and 2002 World Finals event winner J.W. Hart. “They are just there trying to make money and get to the Finals healthy. Although some of them guys came in here with a big weight on their back, they have been all year and it comes down to a certain three bulls if there year is a bust or not.
“I pull for the guys that try to come in and win and try and pull for underdogs.”
The second-place finish is Hupp’s highest since going 4-for-4 to win the 2012 BFTS event in Portland, Oregon.
The six-year BFTS veteran did add that he wished Philicia could have been in attendance to celebrate with him, but she decided to stay home for the first time during the second half to continue working on things around the Hupp’s new home.
Jordan says he can now finally relax and rest up for the Finals, while also providing Philicia with another set of helping hands as they continue working on their three bedroom, two-bath home.
“It is at the point now I got so much stuff to do at home that it will be nice,” he said. “I won’t have to worry about am I going to Finals or not. I am going to the Finals and I can just not sweat it and take care of my business at home, relax and get ready for the Finals.”
He plans on rewarding himself by purchasing a tractor this week in Stephenville. He also has a playdate set with a bulldozer on Tuesday.
“I have never driven a bull dozer before, but we are going to give it hell and knock some trees down and move some brush,” he added. “We are going to be busy this next week because we are going to be gone for eight days at the Finals, so we are going to go and bust some stuff out.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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