PUEBLO, Colo. — As early as February, rookie Kaique Pacheco was already leaving a lasting impression on the PBR rookie class of 2015.
Newcomers to the Built Ford Tough Series, Cooper Davis, Bryan Titman and Neil Holmes joked inside AT&T Stadium before Iron Cowboy that the three of them may have to combine their point totals if they wanted to defeat the talented 20-year-old from Itatiba, Brazil, for the Rookie of the Year title.
Eight months later and this year’s rookie class, while much deeper than earlier this season, still finished the year behind Pacheco in the standings.
Davis, who became the fourth rookie in history to win the World Finals last month, still finished 1,047.5 points behind Pacheco in the rookie race.
“The guy is just an animal,” Davis said. “I have never seen a guy who could come in somewhere and be so confident. The guy came in here and has acted like he has been here for 10 years. You wish you come in here with the same mentality as him. I definitely think it makes all of the rookies step up. You want to show you can do it too.”
Davis made those comments before the World Finals, and he certainly stepped up himself by going 4-for-6 in Las Vegas last month to achieve the monumental victory.
Until his World Finals victory, the Jasper, Texas, bull rider had certainly been overshadowed by Silvano Alves’ prodigy despite his own solid season.
It was not a knock on Davis by any means, but more a credit to how impressive Pacheco had been.
In fact, Davis and Mason Lowe – the second and third-ranked riders in the rookie standings – still trailed Pacheco by 583.84 points with their world standing point totals combined at the beginning of the Finals.
Pacheco clinched the 2015 Rookie of the Year title following Round 2 of the World Finals.
“It is an important honor for every rookie starting in bull riding,” Pacheco said. “It is very important for me because this was my dream in Brazil to come here and ride in the PBR. This is a good day for me. I am very happy.”
Pacheco is one of four Top 35 Built Ford Tough Series riders competing at this weekend’s PBR Australia Troy Dunn Invitational. He will be joined by three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, Robson Aragao and Rubens Barbosa.
Lowe, who nearly won BFTS events in Nampa, Idaho, and Thackerville, Oklahoma, agreed with Davis about Pacheco raising the bar for this year’s group of rookies.
“He never really panics when he gets out of shape,” Lowe said. “When he gets out of shape, he is able to just throw himself back on there. I have seen some pretty crazy, wild moves out of him.”
What also made Pacheco impressive was the poise he showed this year at 20 years old, he didn’t turn 21 until Sept. 18.
He is the youngest Rookie of the Year since Reese Cates won 2008 accolades at age 19.
Pacheco was the only rookie to win a Built Ford Tough regular-season event this season and concluded the year with three BFTS victories (St. Louis, Missouri; Nashville; Charlotte, North Carolina).
His performance at the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout in Nashville was arguably one of his more impressive victories.
He only went 2-for-5, but he was able to eliminate three Top 10 bull riders in the world standings Matt Triplett (four), Stetson Lawrence (ninth) and Fabiano Vieira (fifth). He also eliminated Aaron Roy and Tanner Byrne.
Pacheco is the first rookie to win a PBR Major and the victory moved him to third in the world standings at the time.
He finished eighth overall at the Finals and moved past Joao Ricardo Vieira to conclude the season second in the world.
Pacheco had the fourth-most qualified rides on the BFTS (37) and his 47.44 percent riding average was third-highest among BFTS riders.
However, Pacheco was just as successful outside of the BFTS and went a combined 41-for-60 (68.33 percent) on the BlueDEF Tour, Touring Pro Division and international events. He won nine non-BFTS events in 2015.
In fact, Pacheco’s march to the BFTS began with a victory at the Ontario, California, BlueDEF event – his first of a PBR-high 12 wins at all levels – last year, which gave him an automatic berth to make his season-debt at the Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden in New York.
The BlueDEF Tour stops in Ontario this coming Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The event will be streamed exclusively on PBR LIVE via CarbonTV.com at 10 p.m. ET.
2015 BlueDEF Champion Gage Gay, who rallied at the BlueDEF Finals in Louisville, Kentucky, to steal the title away from Pacheco, is one of the riders expected to compete in Ontario. He will be joined by 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, veteran Valdiron de Oliveira and others.
Not only did Pacheco impress his fellow rookies this season, he left a lasting impression on the only rider that was able to best him in the world standings – J.B Mauney.
The two-time World Champion expects a strong challenge from Pacheco in 2016 when he tries to become the second rider in history to win back-to-back world titles.
“No matter whether you get thrown off or are 90 points, you have to have the same attitude,” Mauney said. “That is what impresses me about Kaique. He is young and a rookie, but if you watch him he never changes. He stays the same. That is why he is going to win and win a lot.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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