By: Justin Felisko
May 07, 2016
UVALDE, Texas – Sweat, stench and bull riding was all in the air on Friday night inside the Uvalde County Fairplex and Chase Outlaw loved every bit of it.
Outlaw was competing in his first PBR event since undergoing left shoulder surgery (torn labrum/rotator cuff) last November.
“Getting on bulls is doing what I love,” Outlaw said. “Being back here with all my pals up and down and the road again is part of it too, missing your best friends that have the same dream you do.”
Outlaw was bucked off in 4.72 seconds by Ray Donavin in Round 1 of the Uvalde, Texas, BlueDEF Tour event after losing his bull rope a couple jumps into the ride. Outlaw drove to the event with Reese Cates and Tyler Harr.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider has decided to focus on competing at summer BlueDEF Tour, PBR Canada and Touring Pro Division events before using his eight BFTS exemptions for the Built Ford Tough Series beginning in August.
Outlaw is looking to bounce back from multiple shoulder surgeries that derailed a promising start to 2015. He had 10 anchors inserted into his right shoulder (free arm) in April 2015 before his latest surgery with Dr. Tandy Freeman only required four anchors in November 2015.
“I was back a couple of months and then I was out six months again,” Outlaw said. “It sucked.”
Outlaw was having a breakout season last year when he first injured his right shoulder attempting to ride Sinful Nature in Kansas City. He was ninth in the world standings.
He then first injured his left shoulder in Nashville during the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout attempting to ride Nefarious.
Outlaw battled through his left shoulder injuries during the final three months of the year to finish 30th in the 2015 world standings, which guarantees him the eight BFTS events.
The 23-year-old most likely would have finished much higher last year if not for the multiple shoulder surgeries.
One positive of the situation is Outlaw spent more time than ever before training in the gym, improving his core strength and stamina.
“Oh yeah. I am way better conditioned than I was before,” Outlaw said. “The other day I got on three bulls and I wasn’t breathing hard after the third one. It wasn’t a 5-minute break between each bull and I am not even breathing hard. I am in way better shape than I was when I first came back.”
Outlaw had already been on 10 practice bulls before Uvalde, including a couple on Thursday night at Mike White’s DeKalb, Texas, ranch.
“I definitely worked a lot harder to get back than I did last time,” Outlaw said. “That is for sure. Everything is coming back, especially after last night.”
He knows his career is far from over despite spending more time rehabbing than riding bulls in the past year. There are still multiple summer events, as well as 10 BFTS events remaining following the summer break, for Outlaw to try and qualify for a fifth consecutive Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Outlaw is deciding not to compete at Last Cowboy Standing because he knows he could potentially be guaranteed only one bull in Las Vegas.
He also knows he can easily chip away at the standings and make up plenty of ground this summer.
No. 35 J.W. Harris, who has been out of competition because of elbow surgery, has 250 points in the world standings.
“Oh, hell yeah,” Outlaw said about making a run to the Finals. “35th place only has like 200 points. Man, if I can’t get that by the end of the summer…man I plan on having that by the end of the summer.
“The next time I am in Vegas it will be for the Finals,”
He looks at Cates, as well as Shane Proctor as good examples of riders that have rebounded from shoulder surgeries.
Cates bounced back from reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2014 to have one of his strongest seasons in 2015 with two event victories and a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory.
Proctor is currently fifth in the world standings after also undergoing back-to-back shoulder surgeries in 2014. He returned last season to finish 20th in the world standings and nodded his head 151 times at all levels of PBR and rodeo competition.
Proctor won the Bass Pro Chute Out in Kansas City, Missouri, this year on the 19-month anniversary of his second shoulder surgery.
“Yeah. It is all just between the ears,” Outlaw said about any nerves or uneasiness.
And what is between his ears right now?
“Winning,” Outlaw said before smiling, “and a hell of a good mustache.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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