By: Justin Felisko
April 16, 2016
BILLINGS, Mont. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational Friday night at Rimrock Auto Arena.
Montana kid in the mix in Billings (4-16-16)
18-year-old Jess Lockwood had no jitters inside the bucking chute, all he had was a boat load of excitement and confidence.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider channeled his emotions and converted them into an 86.76-point ride on Mi Vida Loca to finish Round 1 in third place and keep himself in the mix of winning his first career event.
“That is the coolest thing I ever had happen to me,” Lockwood said. “Ride a bull in my home state on the Built Ford Tough Series.”
The Billings crowd gave their home state kid a huge ovation when he was getting ready inside the bucking chute, the decibels in the arena were so loud they almost drowned out the 8-second buzzer.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Lockwood said. “I was so excited. I just wanted them to open the gate as soon as they could.”
Lockwood had about 30 friends and family in the stands supporting him Friday night, but he didn’t go to any special local restaurant for dinner before the event.
He kept things simple and went to Subway.
“I try to eat really healthy before I ride,” Lockwood said. “Six-inch club on honeyoat with chips and a drink. Mayonnaise, honey mustard, spinach, lettuce, jalapenos – all the goods.”
The ride was Lockwood’s third of his career and the first in which he didn’t win a round.
“Just to get my first one rode, I never have rode one on the first day,” Lockwood said. “I am setting myself up to do better in the average. You don’t shoot for the round wins, well you do obviously, but you want the average more than the round wins.”
Lockwood earned 45 points toward the world standings for splitting third and fourth place with Cooper Davis (86.75 points on The Hulk).
He has drawn Slick Rick (10-4, BFTS) in Round 2.
If Lockwood were to win the event average, that would help him gain 500 points toward the world standings. However, this weekend is much more about winning his first event, an event he grew up going to as a kid, than it is about world standing position.
“Words couldn’t describe it,” Lockwood said. “I would be so unbelievable happy. It would be the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
Lawrence wins Round 1; Lee bucks off in pursuit of 500th ride
Stetson Lawrence may not be a Montana native like Lockwood, but the 27-year-old is also a major fan favorite in Billings.
Lawrence grew up only five hours away in Trenton, North Dakota, and he too would love for his first career win to come in Billings.
He is off to a good start after his 88.5-point ride on Long Haired Outlaw to win Round 1.
“That was just a good ride,” Lawrence said. “I never gave up. That bull is usually right there to the left, but he was freaked out and went to the right. I cut him off and kept going to it.”
Lawrence has about 20 friends and family in attendance this weekend, including his dad, grandpa and brother.
Jay Miller placed second with an 87.25-point ride on Bobby Sox for 60 world points, while Lockwood split third with Davis.
Gage Gay finished in fifth place with an 86.25-point ride on Liquid Fire. He earned 30 points toward the world standings.
Eduardo Aparecido was one of only two riders ranked in the Top 10 of the world standings that were able to record a qualified ride on Friday night with world leader J.B. Mauney (hip/elbow) not competing in Billings.
Aparecido gained 15 points on Mauney with an 86-point ride and sixth-place finish on Must Be Nice.
Tanner Byrne was 10th in the round with 83.25 points on Chocolate Thunder.
Mike Lee’s pursuit of career ride 500 was put on hold for another day after the 2004 World Champion and No. 9 ranked bull rider was bucked off by War Party in 2.22 seconds.
Lee will get another crack at 500 Saturday night in Round 2 when he takes on Tahonta’s Magic (14-9, BFTS). Lee rode Tahonta’s Magic for 85 points two years ago in Billings.
Alternate Kurt Shepard rounded out the Top 7 with an 85.25-point ride on Set ‘em up Joe. He earned five points toward the world standings and is now tied with Fraser Babbington and Juliano da Silva for 34th in the world standings.
Last year, Billings treated another North Dakota bull rider well as Nathan Schaper took home the event victory.
Lawrence hopes Billings is ready to help out another North Dakota native.
He has drawn Jailbreaker (7-0, BFTS) for Round 2.
“It would be special,” Lawrence said. “It would be awesome to take it back to North Dakota. Nathan (Schaper) did it last year. Hopefully I can do it this year.”
Miller cashes in with BlueDEF Tour invite makes major move in standings
Jay Miller is out to a prove point this weekend in Billings.
The 23-year-old wants to show everyone, himself included, that he is much more than just a here and there BFTS rider.
Miller, who began Round 1 50th in the world standings, took full advantage of his BlueDEF Tour invite he received for winning the Milwaukee BlueDEF Tour event last week by finishing second in Round 1 with a career-high 87.25-point ride on Bobby Sox.
I saw on ProBullStats Ryan Dirteater had been on him,” Miller said. “I asked him about it and he said he was a good bull right into the gate, but it didn’t really matter what bull I had today.”
The ride is Miller’s third of his career and Billings is his ninth BFTS.
Miller is 11-for-29 (37.93 percent) at all levels of PBR competition this season. He will take on Machinery Auctioneer’s Colonel (7-1, BFTS) on Saturday.
The Liberty, South Carolina, bull rider earned 60 points toward the world standings to rocket 11 positions in the world standings. Miller will begin Round 2 Saturday night 39th in the world and only 25 points behind the Top 35.
“Man, I felt like I should have been here a long time ago,” Miller said. “I have been to a few big ones. I am just now getting comfortable being here. I just want to prove I can ride with these guys. I have been off and on here over the last three years. I want to be here to stay.”
“It worked out good and I just need to come back tomorrow and do it again.”
Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo had to be backboarded out of the arena and into sports medicine on Friday night following his 5.65-second buckoff against High Chaparral.
Palermo did not have to be transported to a local hospital and was up and about later in the evening. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Palermo sustained a concussion and is doubtful for Round 2.
Valdiron de Oliveira sprained his left knee (MCL) when he briefly hung his spur as he was thrown from Bottoms Up in 3.69 seconds. He is probable for Round 2.
There were 11 riders competing with injuries in Round 1: Justin Paton (sprained right riding hand/sprained left sternoclavicular joint/sprained right knee), Kasey Hayes (right shoulder separation of his free arm), Palermo (sore lower back and sprained left ankle), Stormy Wing (aggravation of an old sternal fracture), Derek Kolbaba (sprained left riding hand), Mason Lowe (torn cartilage in his left riding wrist), Wallace de Oliveira (right knee sprain), Rubens Barbosa (right SI sprain), Fabiano Vieira (right thigh bruise), Silvano Alves (bruised chest) and Guilherme Marchi (sore right knee).
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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