BIG SKY, Mont. – Stetson Lawrence may have been a little too aggressive in the championship round of the Big Sky BlueDEF Velocity Tour event against Dead Calm, but his aggressiveness in the second round against More Big Bucks certainly paid off.
Lawrence rode More Big Bucks for 90.5 points to win Round 2 on Friday night and his 2-for-3 (175.5 points) performance over the course of the two-day event was good enough to seal him his first career BlueDEF Velocity Tour victory at Sage Brush Field.
The No. 10 ranked bull rider in the world is already focused on what is next.
“I am not done yet,” Lawrence said. “A win is a win. I just need to keep on riding bulls.”
With the win already locked up before he nodded his head in the championship round, the Trenton, North Dakota, bull rider had hoped to finish the event a perfect 3-for-3, but Dead Calm was able to rip him down just as Lawrence began to spur.
“I got to aggressive with my right leg and I shouldn’t have spurred him and open up like that, but I am still riding good and that is the main thing. I know what I did wrong and I can fix that for sure.”
Lawrence didn’t ride good in the second round Friday.
He rode great.
The 26-year-old put forth his second 90-point ride in the past two weeks when he got full extension while covering More Big Bucks.
It was the second consecutive time this summer that Lawrence made a qualified ride aboard Chad Berger’s bovine athlete after riding him for 86.5 points in June at the BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“It felt really good,” Lawrence said. “I got on him in Bismarck and he kind of got me a little out of shape toward the end and I knew what he felt like and I got back on him today. Shoot, it worked out great.”
Berger said, “That was a great ride. That was all 90.5. That bull has been really bucking. Stetson just dove in there and went to ride. Hats off to Stetson. That was a great.
Lawrence rode Bart for 85 points on Thursday night.
The win gives Lawrence 80 points toward the world standings and moves him ahead of J.W. Harris for 10th place.
“I am so impressed with Stetson Lawrence,” Berger said. “He is a world contender if he can stay in the game and stay in shape. I think that kid has a bright future.”
Sean Willingham finished second overall and picked up an important 50 points toward the world standings. However, it was a rough ending for Willingham after the 34-year-old was slammed to the ground by Smooth Operator in 3.7 seconds.
Smooth Operator was marked a career-best 47 points.
“That is a different breed of bulls,” Willingham said. “He wasn’t really that strong. He was just so damn long. He bucked right around to the right into my hand, which is the way I like them, but he pulled me down. He was pretty stout. That is everything you want in a World Champion bucking bull right there.”
Willingham set himself up in second place heading into the championship round with an 87-point ride on Super Cella on Friday and an 87-point ride on Make You Famous.
His 2-for-3 performance is his first two-ride event since returning to competition from a broken neck earlier this month.
“I feel good this week,” Willingham said. “Both days here I felt in total control the whole ride and I have to ride them bulls jump for jump and don’t relax and get lazy. That is what bucks a lot of us off. We know how to ride. It is just putting it all together for 8 seconds.”
The 50 points moves Willingham from 47th in the world to 42nd.
He is heading immediately to Fort Myers, Florida, on Saturday morning for the Touring Pro Division event where he could earn more points in his pursuit of a spot for the Built Ford Tough Series Battle at the Beau in Biloxi, Mississippi, next weekend.
Matt Triplett was the only rider to cover his bull in the championship round (86.5 points on The Kraken) and the No. 2 bull rider in the world finished third overall with a 2-for-3 (173.5 points) showing in Big Sky.
Triplett’s sprained riding wrist gave him no issues even after The Kraken jerked him forward inside the bucking chute.
Triplett rode Chubby for 87 points in Round 2.
“My confidence is back,” Triplett said. “I am feeling great. Last night I think I was a little too excited, over thinking things and tonight I went back to the basics of breathing and having fun. Just getting one rode again gives you the feeling and your brain thinking that you are back and ready to go.”
Triplett earned 30 points toward the world standings.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Jay Miller (2-for-3, 172 points) and Jordan Hupp (2-for-3, 171.5 points).
Miller earns 20 points toward the world standings and moves up to No. 49th in the world.
He earned an 86-point ride on Cowtown Slinger in Round 2.
“That bull has been around for a long time and I looked him up on Probullstats and I saw so many high-marked rides on him,” Miller said. “I was glad to have him.”
Hupp was awarded 15 points toward the world standings and rode Beer Nuts for 86.5 points in Round 2. He moves to 56th in the world standings.
The event also helped raised $8,750 for the Rider Relief Fund.
Lawrence, who is good friends with event promoter and PBR photographer Andy Watson, said he has always wanted to win a Big Sky event.
“I am friends with Andy and all of the crew here,” Lawrence concluded. “Let alone the scenery and the crowd here is amazing.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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