By: Justin Felisko
January 27, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis was tying his hand into his bull rope aboard Magic Train on Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City when Jess Lockwood climbed on top of the bucking chute and barked words of encouragement toward Davis.
Once the gate swung open, Lockwood proceeded to yell “Move!” at the defending World Champion.
Davis bucked off in 2.02 seconds, and Lockwood shook his head in frustration for the veteran bull rider that he sat next to every night of the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Lockwood is always willing to offer his help, advice and input to any of the riders in the locker room, but don’t get him wrong, though. He still does not have any intention of claiming ownership of the Built Ford Tough Series locker room anytime soon.
He still understands it is only his second year on the BFTS and is riding amongst a group of battle-tested veteran bull riders.
“All of the older guys have been around for a long time,” Lockwood said. “They kind of own the locker room. I am just here to do my job before I can start talking like they can.”
Lockwood began the season as the youngest bull rider on the BFTS at 19 years old, and he is currently the world No. 1 bull rider.
Good friend Derek Kolbaba is 20 years old and ranked third in the world standings.
“I am still the youngest in the locker room,” Lockwood said in Oklahoma City. “I am still looking up to guys and living and learning from all of them. It may be my second year, and I am progressing, but I am still the youngest.”
18-year-old Koal Livingston is making his BFTS debut this weekend at the Frontier Communications Sacramento Clash, so for at least one weekend Lockwood will be the second youngest.
Lockwood will walk into the Golden 1 Center on Friday as the world No. 1 bull rider for the third consecutive week.
He will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 0-for-2 showing in Oklahoma City and extend his world lead over No. 2 Rubens Barbosa, who trails Lockwood by 162.5 points.
Lockwood is 7-for-11 (63.64 percent) through three events. His seven rides is tops in the PBR.
The Volborg, Montana, bull rider knows he has a lofty goal, but he would love to go wire-to-wire – never relinquishing the world lead – and win the 2017 world title.
“There really isn’t nothing to hard about it,” Lockwood said of being a 19-year-old atop the world standings. “It kind of motivates me being No. 1. I want to keep that all year. I have to show up and ride my bulls. That is the only job I have to do.”
Lockwood has drawn Baton Rouge (0-0, BFTS) for Round 1 and will also face Spotted Demon (25-1, BFTS) in Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle.
The PBR LIVE Pre Show and Round 1 competition begin Friday at 10:15 p.m. ET.
The Sacramento Clash 15/15 Bucking Battle will air exclusively on CBS national television Sunday at noon ET.
Lockwood may not feel it is his role to dominate the locker room just yet, but the Volborg, Montana, bull rider believes he should still attempt to be a role model for younger bull riders and kids at home.
“That is kind of the new generation’s job,” Lockwood said. “To set an example and to motivate the little kids coming up. That is kind of your job when you are young in the PBR.
And what is the lesson to be learned?
“You don’t quit trying until you get wrecked out or you make the whistle,” Lockwood said. “One of those two.”
It is a lesson that Lockwood has had reiterated to him by PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert and two-time World Champion Justin McBride, but it is also one that he first learned from his father, Ed.
“My dad was always supportive and everything,” Jess said. “He told me there is no point in going if you are not going to try your hardest. You are wasting your money and your time. You might as well try as hard as you can.”
He didn’t record a qualified ride in Oklahoma City, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Lockwood was jarred loose at the 7.52-second mark by Rise & Shine in Round 1 before getting bucked off in 6.3 seconds by Wired Child in Round 2 on Sunday afternoon.
“That bull just flattened out and he didn’t kick at all,” Lockwood said after Round 1. “He was just up in the front. I was doing all I could to get to the front. At that point, you just have to start spurring and hope for the best.”
He wasn’t happy with his performance by any means. He tossed his yellow Stanley helmet into a corner before slamming his bull rope to the ground in the back hallways after his buckoff against Wired Crazy.
However, with that competitive fire comes a 19-year-old who knows he has much too still prove despite being the world No. 1 bull rider through the first month of the season.
“You can let it get to your head, but Cody Lambert and my mom and dad keep me pretty low to the ground and humble,” Lockwood said. “It is not bothering me at all. I have a job to do every weekend.
“I have to show up and ride my bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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