By: Justin Felisko
October 11, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood was going stir crazy sitting at home in Volborg, Montana over the course of the last two-plus weeks.
A week after winning the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic in Austin, Texas, to get within 85 points of regaining the world No. 1 ranking, the second-year pro broke four ribs, lacerated a kidney and punctured a lung the following week in Uniondale, New York, attempting to ride Blue Magic.
The injuries resulted in Lockwood missing two events, and he has not been a happy camper about it.
“I don’t like sitting around watching (PBR) on TV,” Lockwood said. “I have been thinking what the hell I can do to get back to trying to get back to first and where I need to be.”
He will get his first chance at re-gaining ground in the world title race this coming weekend.
Lockwood is returning to competition on Saturday for the Frontier Communications Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The No. 5 man in the world standings heads into the second-to-final Built Ford Tough Series regular-season event well within reach of world leader Eduardo Aparecido.
Lockwood is only 495 points behind Aparecido and a victory this weekend in Raleigh could propel him back into the world lead.
The 20-year-old spent the first week of his recovery simply resting, which included a four-hour trip to the emergency room in Bismarck, North Dakota, to get treatment for pneumonia.
“Once I got some fluids in me, I felt 100 percent better,” Lockwood said. “I did (rest) for the first week, and then I started feeling I was loosening up and could move. As soon as that, I started doing little workouts that didn’t hurt me.”
Lockwood, who also missed five weeks because of a torn groin in the first half, has competed in only 17 events, which is the second-fewest among Top 10 riders. No. 9 Cody Teel, who didn’t start the season on the BFTS, has ridden in 16 events.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider upped his physical activity last week with more strenuous exercises in his home-made gym.
“This past week I have been working out hard in my little workout shed doing regular stuff,” Lockwood said. “There are some core workouts I can’t do that don’t necessarily hurt, but I don’t want to push it too hard.
“I have been riding the bike to get warmed up and then I will jump some rope and just lifting and sweating in there keeping my weight down. When I couldn’t work out, I gained a couple of pounds sitting around.”
Lockwood has drawn Captain (3-4, BFTS) for Round 1, while Aparecido will look to defend his world lead aboard Shark Bait (1-0, BFTS).
“Captain is going to be right there to the left and be good,” Lockwood said. “He is probably going to get better throughout the ride and I have to just keep up with him and should be able to win the round on him.”
Dr. Tandy Freeman told Lockwood he would likely still have soreness in his rib region for the next 2-4 weeks.
However, Lockwood, who also has started getting on his bucking machine this week, believes having sustained the broken ribs on his riding-hand side should be beneficial compared to if he had broken them on his free-arm side.
“Luckily it is my riding hand side, so I don’t have to be lifting and moving my free arm a lot, which would put more pressure on them,” Lockwood said. “It is better that it is that side.”
No. 2 Cooper Davis (196.67 points behind Aparecido) faces Slip Out (1-1, BFTS), No. 3 Kaique Pacheco (-365) takes on AJ (2-0, BFTS) and No. 4 Derek Kolbaba (-452.5) has a Round 1 meeting against Clemon Time Saturday night inside PNC Arena.
Lockwood is not the only top rider returning to competition in Raleigh.
No. 13 Cody Nance is back after missing last weekend’s event in Nampa, Idaho, because of an illness, and No. 17 Mason Lowe is returning following a month on the sidelines because of a torn ligament in his right riding elbow.
Like Lockwood, Lowe has gotten sick and tired of sitting at home watching events unfold without competing.
“Yeah, I’m going,” Lowe said via text message. “Can’t stand watching from home. (Arm) feels good. Just been working out.”
Nance will take on Gangster Boy (0-0, BFTS) in Round 1 and Lowe will look for 8 seconds aboard Two By Four (2-0, BFTS).
Alternate riders will be at a minimum this weekend with only three riders – No. 11 J.B. Mauney (reconstructive shoulder surgery), No. 12 Matt Triplett (shoulder) and No. 33 Aaron Kleier (personal) – being unable to compete in Raleigh.
No. 36 Alex Marcilio, No. 37 J.W. Harris and No. 60 Jake Gowdy will replace them in the draw.
Gowdy (torn groin) is competing via an injury exemption. He has two exemptions remaining and has drawn Bugle Boy (1-0, BFTS).
Marcilio (26.52 points) and Harris (33.34 points) are right on the cusp of cracking the Top 35.
They have drawn Mud Duck (1-0, BFTS) and Lab Rat (7-0, BFTS), respectively.
No. 50 Michael Lane from nearby Tazewell, Virginia, will be competing as well as this weekend’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event invite.
Lane went 2-for-2 to earn the victory in Hartford, Connecticut, and an invitation to the BFTS two weeks ago. He placed third in Albany, New York, last weekend with an 85.5-point ride on Squeegee.
The 27-year-old has drawn Action Jaxon (6-0, BFTS) for Round 1.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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