By: Justin Felisko
August 20, 2016
NASHVILLE – J.B. Mauney walked into the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon, on February 17, 2006, and sheepishly wheeled his gear bag around the corner of the long hallway and took a turn into the Built Ford Tough Series locker room.
The 19-year-old rookie was getting ready to make his BFTS debut and who did he see in the locker room looking back at him?
Well, how about eventual three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes, two-time World Champion Chris Shivers and eventual two-time World Champion Justin McBride.
And what did the North Carolina cowboy from Mooresville do that weekend? Mauney just went on to go 3-for-3 and used an 88.25-point ride on Tequila Splash to finish in second place at his debut event.
It has been 10-plus years since James Burton Mauney was that 19-year-old kid attempting to trade blows with Moraes, Shivers and McBride.
Nowadays, the 29-year-old is a two-time World Champion and a PBR superstar. He is the old dog in the locker room, and there are a bunch of young, kids with championships in their eyes wanting the gold buckle that Mauney wears around his waist.
Specifically, Jess Lockwood.
The PBR’s youngest BFTS rider on tour is 2-for-2 in Nashville and is set to take on Mauney in Round 3 of the Frontier Communications Music City Knockout, presented by Cooper Tires, on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena (9:30 p.m. ET CBS Sports Network).
Mauney and Lockwood are separated by 10 years.
“I was in those young guys same situation when I showed up,” Mauney said. “I wanted to whip everybody’s ass, but now that I have been around here for 10-11 years, I still want to whip everybody’s ass. They are all really good. They are going to be around for a long, long time – way after I am gone. In bull riding, there is one thing you cannot win, and that is Father Time.”
There is a core group of the PBR’s rising young guns class still alive in this weekend’s 36-rider tournament. World leader Kaique Pacheco (21), Cooper Davis (22) and Tanner Byrne (24) have advanced to Round 3 and all would love to win their first World Championship this year.
However, once again, it was the future PBR Ring of Honor inductee, Mauney, posting his 69th career 90-point ride Friday. Mauney advanced to Round 3 with the best score of the evening when he made pinpoint adjustments aboard Texicali on his way to a 90.25-point score.
“Oh, that was a little bull of Gene Owen’s,” Mauney said. “I never really paid any attention to him. They said he was good. Hell, he told me he would go to the right. He blew up and I felt like I made a decent ride.”
Mauney is currently second in the world standings and leads the PBR with a 55.55-percent riding percentage. He also leads the PBR with three 15/15 Bucking Battles victories.
Shoot, Lockwood was only 9 years old when Mauney was qualifying for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals in 2006.
“Everybody has been watching Jess Lockwood,” Mauney said. “He rides really good. It looks like he is taking it all in stride. The little kid showed me a picture of me and him. I don’t know what year it was, but he was in middle school. He took it with me in the locker room and I was already in the hallway at Billings.
Mauney pauses with a laugh, before adding, “I was like, ‘How old were you? And he told me. And I said, ‘Eat shit.’
Lockwood made his BFTS debut this year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has already won a BFTS event (Billings, Montana) and is 8-for-17 (47.06 percent) in six career events. Lockwood is 15th in the world standings.
Two of Lockwood’s eight rides came in Nashville Friday. Lockwood made it through Round 1 with 86.25 points on Soldier’s Pride and followed that up with 87.5 points on Buck John. He eliminated No. 35 Justin Paton and No. 11 Derek Kolbaba.
“I liked the second one better,” Lockwood said. “He made me really fight through it. I really had to ride my ass off at the end to get the score. He was good to the right there. He really pulled me down and I had to sit back up there. He felt good, but then at the end it was almost like he moved away from me and I had pull myself back up. I was real strung out when I finished it and I finished it.”
So is Lockwood ready for what awaits him on Saturday night?
“He is the best bull rider in the world,” Lockwood said. “I just have to do my part. That is all I can do. I am not worrying about him. He is just another guy that can ride a bull, but a lot better than anyone else.”
This year has been a whirlwind for the Volborg, Montana, bull rider. He just recently graduated from high school, he moved in to PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert’s ranch and a year ago he was sitting on his couch watching the Music City Knockout.
“I was watching this event on TV and dreamed of being here,” Lockwood said. “Now that I am here, it is pretty awesome to throw my bag right next to J.B. and all of the other guys growing up.”
The sport will always be about rider vs. bull first and foremost, but there indeed will be a Mauney vs. Lockwood showdown on Saturday night.
Mauney is paired up against Alligator Arms (11-5, BFTS), while Lockwood is set to face I’m A Gangster Too (47-15, BFTS). Mauney was bucked off by I’m A Gangster Too in 2.38 seconds in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in 2012, and Lockwood rode Alligator Arms for 89.5 points in Billings.
Lockwood agreed that if he wants to be the champ, then he will have to defeat the champ. Not just in Nashville, but also come the end of the year in Las Vegas at the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals (Nov. 2-6).
“Oh yeah. It is a big deal to ride against J.B.,” Lockwood said. “But like I said, he is just another guy and this is just bull riding. In this style, all you do is ride your bull and leave the rest up to the judges.”
Mauney concluded with a smile, “Ah, hell it will be alright. May the best man win.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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