By: Justin Felisko
December 21, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Jacob O’Mara was about 10 miles south of Southaven, Mississippi, on Friday afternoon when his cell phone went off during his 5-hour drive to Louisiana.
O’Mara looked down at his screen and realized it was the PBR’s competition department calling. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, bull rider quickly answered the phone and learned that he would have a bull to get on at the Real Time Velocity Tour event the next night in Southaven.
“I was actually driving home from a friend’s house in Missouri and I got 10 miles past this building and they called me,” O’ Mara, who was originally an alternate for the event said. “Well, I had to go get my rigging bag at home. So I had to go home, sleep and drive right back up here.”
O’Mara had been trying to compete on the Velocity Tour for the last month, but every time he tried to enter he was too far down the alternate list.
Therefore, you could bet O’Mara was excited when he learned he was finally getting an opportunity compete.
Not to mention, it had been seven years since the 25-year-old last competed at a PBR event before turning his focus toward the rodeo scene and other bull riding events.
The 2011 National Finals Rodeo qualifier made the most of his opportunity in Southaven 24 hours later. O’Mara won Round 1 with an 88.5-point ride on Boomer, and the ride eventually became the event winner after all 10 riders bucked off in the championship round.
Southaven was O’Mara’s first PBR event since going 2-for-2 at two Touring Pro Division events in 2010.
“When I first turned 18 I bought my PBR permit and I went to a few of them and did good at them,” O’Mara said. “Some of my older buddies, who I jumped in the truck with when I was 18, were rodeoing. So I kind of took that path. A lot of guys do when they are young. They get seasoned, get some years under your belt, and get your confidence up to come to these.
“I have been thinking about it back and forth and prayed about it. I said, ‘Man, I can’t do nothing but buy my card and start entering.’”
When he walked into the Landers Center on Saturday night, O’Mara then had to pinch himself when he saw the Round 1 draw.
O’Mara had seen Boomer many times before and had been wanting to get on the bull owned by Ring of Honor inductee Mike White, who was born and raised in Louisiana.
“When I showed up, and seen what I had, I was like, ‘Is that the Boomer? Mike White’s Boomer?’” O’Mara said. “Just because he is such an awesome bull. He is a bull rider’s dream to get on. I have seen that bull a good many times, knowing Mike and his set of bulls. I have been wanting to get on that bull for quite a while now.”
White said, “He made a good ride. I am not taking nothing away from him. That is a pretty rider friendly bull. That bull has a lot of timing. He gets up in the air. He gets rode a lot because he spends a lot of time up in the air. He made a great bull ride, but when you go to the Built Ford Tough the bulls are ranker than that one.”
O’Mara – a third generation bull rider – and White have seen each other over the last few years. White said he has seen glimpses of potential in Mara, but O’Mara will need to cover the ranker bulls of the BFTS.
“What I have seen of him is he has rode some really rank bulls and he has bucked off some he should have rode, but that comes with every bull rider,” White said. “One thing I do like about him is he will try, and he will try hard when he sticks his hand in his bull rope. Of course, I pull for him because he is from Louisiana. I like him. He has a great attitude as far as a bull rider goes.”
One of those bulls that O’Mara will have to ride if he wants to be a full-time Built Ford Tough Series rider in 2017 is Alligator Arms.
Alligator Arms bucked off O’Mara in 2.62 seconds on the final ride of Saturday night.
“The bull he had in the short round, he has to ride that bull because that is what the bulls are going to be like at the Built Ford Tough,” White said.
O’Mara was yanked off his rope almost instantly by Alligator Arms.
“I don’t know if I didn’t have enough stick on my rope or what,” O’Mara said. “I knew that bull was heavy. A lot of guys say he hits hard on his front end. Shoot, that second jump my rope came out of my hand. I will have to figure that out before I got to another one.”
O’Mara, who is the second rider this offseason to earn a debut trip to the BFTS, added that he plans to try and ride full-time in the PBR in 2017. He will compete at Velocity Tour events and Touring Pros before making his BFTS debut in Kansas City, Missouri, on Feb. 11-12 courtesy of his Velocity Tour victory.
“I am set to go,” he concluded. “It is a New Year. I am healthy. We are going to get after it now.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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