By: Justin Felisko
April 25, 2016
DES MOINES, Iowa – Stock contractor Matt Scharping wants J.B. Mauney to conquer Jared Allen’s Air Time before it is all said and done, but he still can be proud of his bull remaining undefeated against the two-time World Champion.
Air Time (22-1, BFTS) made easy work of the world No. 1 bull rider Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena by taking two forward jumps out of the bucking chute and exploding into Mauney’s hand in 3.63 seconds.
“We will meet again,” Mauney said immediately after. “He bucked and I fell off. That bull is smart and has a lot of roll to him. He just rolled me from one side and kind of whipped me down. Next jump I was on the other side and went by his head that time.”
Scharping was also already excited about a future Mauney-Air Time showdown.
“Honestly, yes it is cool bucking him off, but nobody wanted him to ride that bull more than himself than it is me,” he said. “I want him to ride him because I want him to set the record on him.”
The record Scharping speaks of is the highest-scored ride in PBR history.
Currently, three riders hold the record with 96.5-point bull rides.
Bubba Dunn was the first to reach 96.5 points by riding Promise Land at the Tampa, Florida, event in 1999. Two-time World Champion Chris Shivers then rode Jim Jam for the same score a year later in Tampa.
Shivers would hit the record-mark again at the 2001 World Finals aboard Dillinger.
Sunday was actually the 12-year anniversary of Michael Gaffney’s 96.5-point ride on Little Yellow Jacket at the 2004 Nampa, Idaho, BFTS event.
No rider has matched the ride since.
Mauney has the third-most 90-point rides (68) in PBR history and has the potential to light up the scoreboard any given weekend, and a ride on Air Time could easily reach 95 points.
The 29-year-old has won the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award, which is given to the rider at the World Finals with the highest-scored ride, three consecutive years and six of the past 10. But the record still lurks just out of reach for now.
Mauney still has some work to do if he wants to solve the riddle that is Air Time, though.
This weekend was the third time Mauney failed to reach at least 5 seconds on Air Time. The two first squared off in Des Moines last year when Air Time dumped Mauney in 3.52 seconds. He tried again last September in Charlotte, but only managed 4.57 seconds.
He has averaged 3.91 seconds on Air Time, while the bovine athlete has averaged a 45.25-point bull score against the World Champion rider.
“He reminds me a lot of Bushwacker,” Mauney said. “You never know what he is going to do. You don’t set no gameplan, which I don’t for any bull I get on. Like Bushwacker, I got on him so many times he never did the same thing twice and neither will that bull. He is going to do whatever it takes to buck your ass off.”
It took Mauney nine attempts to finally ride Bushwacker.
Mauney historically ended the three-time World Champion Bull’s BFTS record buckoff streak (42) in 2013 with a sensational 95.25-point ride in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Bushwacker is the greatest all time,” Scharping said. “So that is a huge compliment and I appreciate it. J.B. is a good friend and an unbelievable bull rider. I have tons and tons of respect for him. I love how he handles everything, as far as the stock, and what he stands for riding bulls.”
Scharping admitted Air Time didn’t have his best out this weekend. He was marked only 45 points.
“I knew Air Time had a horn out when he was getting ready, so I told (Mauney) to move so he didn’t hang a horn, but then when he did that Air Time popped his head up higher than I normally like him,” Scharping said. “That is why the start wasn’t like I like it. That wasn’t his best trip by any means, but we still bucked him off.”
Scharping knows Mauney will find a way to conquer Air Time eventually. 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes proved with his 92.5-point ride in 2014 that Air Time is rideable.
“I love the rivalry and I really do because I would love to see J.B. get on him every time,” Scharping said. “I am not standing there saying he can’t ride him or that I would be ticked to see him ride him. I would be as excited as anyone here and more.”
Air Time has forcefully bucked off 20 riders since Nunes’ ride.
That isn’t going to stop Mauney or make him blink.
Following the buckoff, Mauney went and congratulated Scharping.
“We will pick him again for sure,” Mauney said.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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