By: Justin Felisko
March 06, 2017
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – J.B. Mauney has become an expert at recognizing when he makes mistakes inside the bull riding arena throughout his 12-year career.
Another one of Mauney’s biggest assets, outside of his Hall of Fame talent, is his ability to handle the mental rigors of the toughest sport on dirt.
Still, even Mauney can fall victim to the peaks and valleys of the Built Ford Tough Series, and he admitted that he got a little caught up trying to prove a point when doubters began questioning his health during his dismal February.
“Bull riding wise, everybody is saying I am too old to do this or I am a has-been” Mauney, 30, said. “You get to thinking that and you want to prove them wrong. Then you try too hard and you think about it too much. You just need to go back to having fun.”
Mauney admitted he noticed himself pressing too much during the month of February. The Mooresville, North Carolina, bull rider was amidst a brutal 2-for-10 slump and dropped to 18th in the world standings until getting things back on track at the Jacksonville Invitational with a second-place finish.
“Every streak starts somewhere, whether it is getting bucked off a lot of them or you are riding all of them,” Mauney said. “I feel like this starts it off.”
Mauney capped off his 3-for-3 performance with 85.75 points on Rebel Yell II in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round Sunday afternoon inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The ride wasn’t anywhere near Mauney’s best of the season, nor was his 85.25-point ride on Mr. Big Stuff in Round 1 and 83.5-point ride on Sin City in Round 2.
“I drew right in the middle of the pen,” Mauney said. “Nothing real rank. When you are getting in a little bit of a slump, like I have been, that is good and every one you ride builds your confidence.”
The three rides were exactly what he needed following a week at home in North Carolina where he stayed off social media and spent time with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Bella.
“I haven’t doubted myself,” Mauney said. “I have just been trying too hard and thinking about too much. I went home this week and hung out with my wife and Bella. I didn’t really worry about bull riding. This is fun and it is only 8 seconds. There is not a whole lot to think about.”
The last time Mauney finished in second-place this season was at the tail end of January at the Sacramento Clash when he declared he felt the healthiest in years despite missing two events because of a chronic hip injury.
Then came his February setback, as well as an aggravation of an old riding arm injury in Round 1 a week ago in St. Louis.
“Health ain’t nothing,” Mauney said Saturday night before the Jacksonville Invitational. “I have rode hurt my whole entire career. It is my head is what is getting in my way. I have been thinking too much and worrying too much. That is just the way it has been going.”
Mauney earned 311.7 points in Jacksonville to rocket up to ninth in the world standings and is 10-for-22 (45.45 percent) in seven events.
He still has his work cut out for him after world leader Eduardo Aparecido’s third victory in four weeks.
Aparecido leads Mauney by 1,808.34 points in the world standings.
Mauney understands how people may question his health when they see him limping and grimacing inside the arena.
Even the sometimes stubborn Mauney admits his body isn’t the same as it once was.
“It is a little bit (catching up with me),” he said. “I don’t bounce back as fast as I used to because when I was younger I didn’t take the time to let things heal. I just kept going. I always said there was tape to hold stuff together. If I do hurt something, it takes a week or so to get over something instead of getting on the next day.
“That is all part of it. You get older and you don’t heal near as fast, and you don’t bounce back near as fast. As long as I do my job and do it right I don’t have to worry about it.”
Only three riders in PBR history have won a world title in their 30s – Tuff Hedeman (1995), Troy Dunn (1998) and Adriano Moraes (2001, 2006).
Moraes won a record-setting third world title at 36 years old, five years after winning his second gold buckle at 31 years old.
Mauney understands history may not be on his side, but that isn’t fazing him.
“Well, because a lot of times guys don’t ride that long,” Mauney said. “Justin McBride retired before he was 30 years old and things like that. Riding bulls, the older you get, your body can’t take this beating your whole entire life.
“30 is about the milestone everybody sets. If you made it to 30 riding bulls professionally, you have had a good career, but I don’t think I am finished yet.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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