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So Close to the Top

BISMARCK, N.D. – Every now and then, Stetson Lawrence still thinks back to his 1.83-second buckoff against Mr. Bull in the final round of Last Cowboy Standing.

He knows he was that close from potentially winning more than $180,000 instead of the $6,900 he went home with.

However, one thing that hadn’t crossed his mind is how close he actually was to being the No. 1 bull rider in the world.

It’s an easily lost tidbit – granted a hypothetical one – amid Joao Ricardo Vieira’s dominant march toward the No. 1 world ranking.

Yet, if Lawrence, who finished runner-up to Vieira at both PBR Major events, would have won Last Cowboy Standing and Iron Cowboy instead of Vieira, he would currently have a less than 100-point lead (91.25 points) on No. 2 Matt Triplett.

Vieira would have been the No. 3 world rider in the world.

So how close was Lawrence?

Well, 24 seconds.

“Are you serious?” Lawrence asked when told of the scenario on Friday morning. “Damn.”

Yes, it is strictly in hindsight, and a lot of this is hypothetical, but the 11th-ranked bull rider in the world was indeed that close to winning more than $360,000 and being the No. 1 rider.

“There is no sense in sweating about it,” Lawrence said. “I am not there.”

For Lawrence to have won Iron Cowboy, he would have needed to ride his third round bull (Lane’s Magic Train) and then his fourth-round bull, while Vieira would have had to buck off his fourth round bull. If that scenario were to have played out, Lawrence potentially could have walked away with 1,008.75 points instead of the 168.75 he earned for finishing in second place. Vieira would have left with 300 points instead of 900 points.

Last Cowboy Standing is a much simpler formula seeing as Lawrence and Vieira both bucked off their final two bulls. If Lawrence were to have ridden either Buck Dynasty or Mr. Bull, he would have won 150 points for winning that round and then the additional 600 points for the event. Therefore, he would have left with another 915 points toward the world standings instead of 525, while Vieira would only have earned 277.5 points.

“The Iron Cowboy, I wasn’t to upset about taking second because my knee was bothering me during that one after I landed on it in the second round,” Lawrence said. “Last Cowboy Standing, it still kind of bothers me just because I should have rode that last bull I got on – Mr. Bull. There is no question. I shouldn’t have let that one get away.”

Lawrence called Last Cowboy Standing a good learning experience.

“Just being in the position there at Last Cowboy Standing, I let the nerves get to me,” he said. “The whole hype of winning that much money, I let it bother me. I wasn’t quite focused on riding that last bull. It is nice to be in that position and get used to it too.”

Lawrence currently trails Vieira by 2,121.25 points and is having a career-year on the Built Ford Tough Series. He has already set career-highs in rides (17), Top-5s (3), Top-10s (4) and events (16). He is also is riding at a career-best rate of 32.69 percent.

Last season, he finished a career-best 29th in the world.

The Trenton, North Dakota, native will be competing at this weekend’s Dakota Community Bank & Trust BlueDEF Velocity Tour event at the Bismarck Civic Center, which can be seen exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com.

The weekend consists of two separate BlueDEF Velocity Tour events.

Lawrence will be joined by No. 6 bull rider and fellow North Dakotan Nathan Schaper and a surplus of the Top 35 bull riders in the world.

“I really am proud of Stetson and Nathan Schaper,” stock contractor and event organizer Chad Berger said. “I have watched them kids from the time they were riding them little miniature bulls, and I actually rodeoed a little bit with Stetson’s dad. I am so happy for those two kids. I am probably their biggest fan. I cheer for them all the time and both of those kids represent themselves well and all over the United States.

“They really represent North Dakota well, which makes me proud of the both of them.”

Lawrence has drawn Fender Bender in Round 1 on Friday night, while Schaper will face Kraken.

Regardless of would’ve, could’ve, should’ve scenarios, Lawrence says he still considers his performances at Iron Cowboy and Last Cowboy Standing as his favorite moments of the first half because they have positioned him as a Top-10 bull rider.

That is something he takes pride in, and he knows he can build off his two-second place finishes come the second half.

“It helps a lot,” Lawrence said. “More than anything, I have just proven to myself that I could always be where I am today.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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