Lockwood and Kolbaba Share a Growing Friendship and Growing Aspirations

By: Justin Felisko
April 07, 2017

Jess Lockwood (No. 2) and Derek Kolbaba (No. 4) have been in the Top 5 of the world standings for a good portion of the season. Photos: Andy Watson /

BILLINGS, Mont. – Jess Lockwood walked out of the PBR sports medicine room last week in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and took a big gulp out of his Capri Sun juice box.

The 19-year-old then looked at his good buddy and traveling mate Derek Kolbaba and asked, “Wait, you don’t like Capri Sun?

“No, Jess,” Kolbaba said while shaking his head. “I don’t like freaking Capri Sun. It is not my favorite. I don’t know.”

The two youngest World Champion contenders then burst out laughing.

For the most part, Lockwood and Kolbaba have learned in the past year they have a variety of similar interests – just don’t get them debating Subway vs. Jimmy John’s.

It isn’t uncommon for the two high school state champion bull riders to stay up until 3 a.m. watching Netflix, Family Guy, Rodney Carrington comedy or other random viral videos on YouTube and social media just like any other millennial.

One weekend the two watched the 2010 sports documentary, “The Ride” on YouTube, which featured a young J.B. Mauney.

“That was hilarious,” Lockwood said. “Really, being this young, we are in the generation that is always on their phones. We will find funny stuff on Facebook and show each other stuff we saved from during the week.”

Kolbaba said rooming with Lockwood usually leads to ab-aching laughter.

“It is always fun being around good people and having a good time,” he said. “It is always about enjoying this little life. Shoot, we have fun doing anything we are doing. We will sit in the hotel and laugh about whatever.”

Defending World Champion Cooper Davis even remembers in January walking into the trios’ hotel room in Sacramento, California, to the tune of the Disney Channel blaring on the television.

“I felt right at home,” said Davis, who was referencing his son, Mack.

Davis is actually replacing Kolbaba as Lockwood’s roommate for this weekend’s Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires. Kolbaba will be rooming with a family friend in Billings, Montana.

Regardless, Lockwood and Kolbaba’s rise to the top tier of the world standings has also coincided with a strong friendship continuing to flourish between the two.

Lockwood is the No. 2 bull rider in the world standings, while Kolbaba jumped up to No. 4 last weekend with a 3-for-4 showing in Sioux Falls.

In fact, both riders head into Round 1 on Friday night with 37 qualified rides in their Built Ford Tough Series careers.

They are two of the four youngest riders competing on the BFTS with Koal Livingston (18) and Luciano de Castro (20).

Lockwood will take on Make You Famous (4-1, BFTS) in Round 1. Kolbaba will face Sully (1-5, BFTS).

Lockwood, a Volborg, Montana, native, won the first event of his career last year in Billings to become the second-youngest event winner in PBR history.

He and Kolbaba are within 1,200 points of world leader Eduardo Aparecido, who is set to miss this weekend’s event because of a riding arm injury that forced him to opt out of last weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle.

Last weekend was the first time Lockwood and Kolbaba were able to room together since Lockwood tore his left groin and had to miss five weeks.

“It was nice being able to sleep when he was gone,” Kolbaba joked.

The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider then continued, “I mean it is great because we can both thrive off each other. We both have kind of the same mentality. Being roughly the same age makes it easier to relate. We both find things funny and enjoy things like that. It makes it that much more fun.”

Lockwood added, “Whenever you can find someone around the same age that grew up in the same era, and kind of have the same mentality, you kind of act a lot like. If you are rooming with someone older you make think something is funny and they don’t or something like that.”

It isn’t all about laughter, though.

The two are ultimately focused on the same goal, winning the 2017 World Championship.

“They are very mature for their age,” Davis said. “They are both focused on winning. They get up and go workout in the morning. It is all business, but at the same time it is fun. It is business to a point, but if you are not having fun there is no point in doing it.”

Just don’t expect the good friends splitting the $1 million champion’s bonus anytime soon.

“Hell no!” Kolbaba said.

Lockwood then responded, “I’ll take the buckle and you can take the trophy deal.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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