CLOVIS, N.M. – Jess Lockwood’s hands were still shaking in the moments following his 87-point ride on Danny Quartieri’s 803 Friday night at the fifth annual L.J. Jenkins Invitational BlueDEF Tour event.
“This is my first PBR ever and I just turned 18 a couple weeks ago,” Lockwood said. “There are no words to describe how good that feels. Words can’t describe it. I am so pumped. It is just awesome.”
The Volborg, Montana, native turned 18 years old on Sept. 28 and his ride wound up being enough to notch the reigning Montana High School State Bull Riding Champion the Round 1 victory inside the Curry County Events Center.
Lockwood was able to handle a wild 803 in the chutes before easily ripping off his first qualified ride of his non-Built Ford Tough Series PBR career.
“As soon as I nodded, he jumped right up in the air there and he really could have fouled me,” Lockwood said. “It could have been a bad deal, but he came out of there clean and he had me leaned way back so I just tried to backdoor him and it ended up working. I couldn’t be more happy.”
Lockwood let out a big exhale after very quietly letting out a celebratory yell when he got past the out gate.
Getting the first ride down was a big relief.
“Yeah, there definitely were some nerves,” he said. “I just told myself I have done this a thousand times and to go do it again.”
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 1 was Paulo Ferreira Lima (86 points onYellow Hair), Roscoe Jarboe (85.5 points on Cosmo), Valdiron de Oliveira (84.5 points on Rewind) and Mike Lee (84 points on Ridin’ Dirty No Restraint).
There were 11 qualified rides in Round 1.
The L.J. Jenkins Invitational concludes on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. ET, and can be viewed exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com.
In the minutes following his ride, Lockwood’s cell phone was beginning to buzz with various congratulatory text messages and he couldn’t wait to call his parents.
Lockwood’s dad, Ed, was a professional bronc rider in the PRCA. He won the 1992 Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit Championship.
“I am so unbelievably happy,” he said. “I can’t wait to call my parents to tell them how good I did. I am sure they are watching, but to hear them tell me good job will be a sweet relief.”
One person that was watching from home was Matt Triplett.
Lockwood recently moved in with this year’s World Champion contender in Hillsboro, Texas, after the two met two years ago in a practice pen in Montana.
The two Montana natives formed a quick bond and Lockwood has been able to look to Triplett for advice throughout his high school career.
“He told me to come here and do what I know how to do and ride bulls,” Lockwood said. “It gets me even more pumped up living with him.”
Not only has Lockwood won multiple Montana State bull riding titles, but he also was a prized high school wrestler before focusing all of his time and energy toward his bull riding career.
In 2013, Lockwood – then a freshman – won the Class B-C 98-pound wrestling state title. He finished third in 2014 at 113 pounds before not competing in 2015.
Lockwood also nearly won the National High School Finals Rodeo in 2013 before bucking off in the short round. He had entered the round leading the event.
He finished fifth at this year’s NHSFR, while Keyshawn Whitehorse, who was bucked off in Round 1 by Two by Four, placed fourth.
“Freshman year going into nationals, I was leading heading into the short round and I bucked off to win the nation,” Lockwood said. “Same thing this year.”
Lockwood knows there is an automatic bid up for grabs in Clovis this weekend, and he has his sights set on securing a bid to the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season-opener in Chicago with a victory.
He may need a ride in the championship round in Clovis to do it.
“That is my biggest dream, to get on the Built Ford Tough,” Lockwood said. “If I could do that, I would be so happy. It makes you try really, really hard. You are supposed to do that on every bull. It just gets you amped up knowing you could be on tour after this one.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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