By: Justin Felisko
January 15, 2016
NEW YORK – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
PAST WINNERS IN CONTENTION
Three-time World Finals event winner Robson Palermo and two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney are no strangers to success on the biggest stops on the PBR calendar, and New York is no exception.
Both Palermo and Mauney took steps toward adding another prestigious belt buckle to their collections in Round 1 on Friday night.
Palermo split the Round 1 victory with J.W. Harris by riding Alligator Arms for 87 points, while Mauney remains in the hunt with his 85-point ride on Blue Hurricane.
“New York is a great town and I won here once,” Palermo said. “To come here and have this bull in the first round was really good. It is a great start.”
Palermo, and Harris, who rode Fire Bender for 87 points, each earned 100 points toward the world standings.
The round win moves Palermo up to 11th in the world standings.
Mauney heads into Round 2 sitting tied for sixth.
“The crowd really gets into it here and are pumped up,” Mauney said. “They are cheering and hollering and that makes you want to try and perform better.”
Robson Aragao (85 points on Machinery Auctioneer’s Little Joe) and Ryan Dirteater (85 points on Magic) split sixth through eighth place with Mauney. All three riders earned 10 points toward the world standings.
Placing third in the round was Joao Ricardo Vieira with an 86.25-point ride on Flip Out. Vieira moves into second place in the world standings and gained 60 points on No. 1 Wallace de Oliveira, who rode Tex-lo for 84.75 points, but placed ninth in the event.
“I feel alright,” Oliveira said with the help of Fabiano Vieira translating. “It is good to start here with a good bull. This is a great event for three days.”
Joao Ricardo Vieira now trails Oliveira by 227.5 points.
Lachlan Richardson earned 50 world points with his 85.75-point effort aboard Come On Baby that placed him fourth in the round, while Mason Lowe used an 85.5-point ride on Whistlin Dixie for a fifth-place finish. Lowe earned 40 world points.
Palermo won the 2013 New York event.
However, this is the first year of New York being a PBR Major, which pays the event winner $100,000.
“This is big,” Palermo said. “I didn’t know nothing about (the money) until I got here. People are talking about the money and I said ‘Oh my gosh.’ I would be happy to just keep riding my bulls, stay focused, feel good.
“To win this event and a lot of money would be great.”
Mauney has won the event three times, but would much rather get a PBR Major victory onto his resume for the first time.
“This is Madison Square Garden,” Mauney concluded. “This is the biggest stage and everybody wants to come here. Any sport, any athlete wants to win in this arena.
“To win it a few times is great, but to win it this year – it pays a hell of a lot more.”
HARRIS MOTIVATED AND FOCUSED IN NEW YORK; SWEEPS NIGHT ONE
About an hour before the bull riding began, J.W. Harris was sitting inside the locker room in his own little corner.
Harris would take a sip from his Monster Energy drink and respond when talked to, but for the most part Harris remained quiet and focused.
“It kind of goes back to that is something I needed to change about myself,” Harris said following his Round 1 winning ride on Fire Bender. “I need to take this a little more serious instead of being here joking around. We can have a good time after the bull riding. I am here for a reason and that is not to be joking around and screwing around.”
Through the first night of action in New York, the early results are paying off for the four-time PRCA champion.
Harris built off his Round 1 victory with his first career 15/15 Bucking Battle by riding Like A Boss for a season-high 88.75-points.
“Shoot, he was just up and down and made me work for it, but it worked out,” Harris said. “This is momentum. I feel good and I have my mind focused. We will build off that and keep going.”
It was also his first qualified ride in a 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Tanner Byrne was the only other ride to record a qualified ride in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, riding Heat Seeker for 84.5 points and a second-place finish.
“It was a good little bull,” Byrne said. “I had seen videos of him and when I got here I realized how small he really was. I am one of the biggest guys here and got on definitely smallest bull. It was a little tough. I couldn’t get a good hold with my feet so I kept pushing my knees up to my rope and it seemed to work out. I just kept fighting and went at it and it worked.”
It was a very different result for Byrne after he rode Tahonta’s Magic last year for 87.25 points in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, but received no points toward the world standings.
Instead of being frustrated like last year, Byrne was happy as can be this year.
“I kept fighting and whatever is meant to be is going to happen,” Byrne said. “All I can do is stay on my bulls and the money and points comes with staying on. My main focus is just getting to the whistle and doing what I know what to do.”
Harris earned 150 points for the victory and paired with his 100 points from the round win he skyrockets up to fifth in the world standings.
“It is on everybody’s (bucket list) – to win a 15/15,” Harris added. “The money and the extra points in the round. Every one of them counts.”
Harris may have accomplished a new personal milestone on Friday, but he is hoping a commitment to his past mentality can lead to future success in 2016.
“Back whenever I was winning all them gold buckles I was pretty focused,” Harris concluded. “I didn’t mess around a lot before the bull riding, but I think I got a little too comfortable in it and the butterflies wouldn’t be fluttering as much so I just have to get back to the good old days.”
DIRTEATER NOT LETTING SINUS INFECTION SLOW HIM DOWN
Ryan Dirteater is quietly putting together a strong start to the 2016 season, and he is doing so while riding with a sinus infection.
The sinus infection is the least of his worries, after dealing with multiple injuries, especially to his knees, over the course of his eight-year career.
His ride on Magic gives him four consecutive rides to start the season, and he has now ridden seven consecutive regular-season bulls dating back to 2015.
The four consecutive rides to start a season ties his career-high (2014).
“During the week I went to the doctor and he gave me some antibiotics,” Dirteater said “I was really sick last weekend. What is that saying? Sometimes you play your best when you are not feeling very good? I guess I just wasn’t worried about too much. I was feeling like crap and I didn’t have a choice.”
Otherwise, Dirteater added that he physically feels ready to go for 2016.
The 26-year-old spent the offseason competing at team roping competitions, including the USTRC Finals.
“All I did was rope these last couple of months,” he said. “I just kept my mind off bull riding. I like to team rope. It just levels you out. Instead of getting burned out on bull riding, I will get myself burnt out on team roping until I crave it again.
“I enjoy just being a cowboy.”
Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves had to be assisted to the locker room by sports medicine after getting his head stomped on by Cochise in the 15/15 Bucking Battle following his 5.09-second buckoff.
According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Alves sustained a concussion and scalp and facial contusions.
Alves is questionable for Rounds 2 and 3.
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