By: Kristian Limas
May 25, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – The first half of the Built Ford Tough Series is now in the books and the battle for the World Championship buckle is nowhere near settled. So far, the 2016 season has featured historic rides and dazzling debuts. In fact, the current crop of young guns on tour have made the World Championship race one of the closest in PBR history with the Top 10 riders in the world standings within 800 points of the current leader, 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco.
The Top 16 rides of the first half featured everything from monstrous high scores, clutch rides, and one ride for the history books. Over the next few weeks, PBR.com will count down the top rides of the first half and look forward to the second half where the PBR World Champion will be crowned at Las Vegas’ brand new state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena, be sure to secure your tickets for the next amazing moment.
No. 7: J.B. Mauney shows there’s a first time for everything in St. Louis
J.B. Mauney has never been one to worry too much about personal stats, as he likes to say he just rides a bull jump for jump. So the fact that he had never won a 15/15 Bucking Battle was far from his mind in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mauney came to ride that night, winning Round 2 and turning in a 90.25-point trip aboard Sheep Creek to win his very first 15/15 Bucking Battle.
It wasn’t an easy trip, and Mauney had to adjust, which has been a hallmark of his career.
“I don’t know how that worked,” Mauney said. “That is not the correct way to ride bulls, but like I always say, you keep your hand shut and you keep trying and things will work out that aren’t supposed to work out.”
The ride was the 67th 90-point ride in his BFTS career and added to his lead among active riders. More than anything, Mauney enjoys a challenge and it shows in his work, whether it’s making an adjustment mid-ride or heading to Oklahoma for a bounty bull challenge.
No. 8: Des Moines finally crowns Derek Kolbaba
Derek Kolbaba had already built a name for himself when he arrived on the Built Ford Tough Series after winning three BlueDEF Tour events. The then 19-year-old Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider even added a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory in just his second 2016 BFTS event in Anaheim. Kolbaba’s impressive resume was missing one thing, though, a BFTS event win.
That changed in Des Moines, Iowa, with an 89-point ride on Kookabura in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“Finally got that first win,” Kolbaba said. “This is what I have been searching for all year long. It worked out here, but I didn’t think it would coming off that first one. Heck, I knew if I came back and rode the other two it would at least put me in a good position. Sometimes it works that way and I am happy it did.”
The win in Des Moines moved him back into the Top 10, where he currently sits at No. 8, and has grown his already budding confidence. So much so, that he has decided to challenge reigning PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John next month at the Young Guns Challenge portion of the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge BlueDEF Tour event in Decatur, Texas.
No. 9: Paulo Lima’s hunch in New York made him the one and only
When Paulo Lima walked into Madison Square Garden before the Built Ford Tough Championship Round of the Monster Energy Buck Off at the Garden, he had already long decided how that Sunday was going to go.
He was going to select Cochise in the championship round draft, and ride him.
It was a discussion he previously had with Robson Palermo the night before, and it was a hunch he knew he could deliver on.
Eight seconds later, Lima had bested Cochise for 90 points and locked up the victory in the first PBR Major of the season.
“I went to sleep thinking of this bull and I got up this morning thinking about this bull,” Lima said with the help of Palermo translating. “It is funny. We are sharing a room and we were arguing about who was going to get on Cochise in the short go.”
In nine outs since New York, Lima has remained the only rider to have ridden Cochise this season (9-1, BFTS), and it was a ride that brought the most famous arena in the world to its feet. More importantly, it brought some confidence back to Lima, who had not ridden on the BFTS full time since 2011.
“I am really happy and so proud of myself because I took four years off over here and I won this event,” Lima said. “I am really happy.”
No. 10: Mason Lowe bests Bruiser in Oklahoma City
Mason Lowe has never been shy when it comes to bull riding. He proved it when he selected SweetPro’s Bruiser with the second pick in the bull draft before the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Oklahoma City.
Up until that point, Bruiser had not been ridden by a right-handed rider on the BFTS, but Lowe had a feeling he could change that.
Eight seconds later, Lowe hopped off Bruiser earning 91 points, enough to win the championship round with style.
“I heard everyone on the back of the chutes hollering and right at the end he got me on the end of my arm and kind of blew up,” Lowe said. “He tried to whoop me down and I let loose for a second and got back on top of my rope.”
The ride capped a 4-for-4 weekend for Lowe who ended up finishing second in the event. Coming just short would stick with him for a while but the ride on Bruiser was something he knew he could do, just like he knew he could win on the BFTS.
“I woke up this morning wanting to pick that bull and I knew he fit my style,” Lowe said. “He kind of had me off for a second and I just let loose and everything and let it go.”
No. 11: Derek Kolbaba walks away a winner in Anaheim
Usually, when a rider turns in a monster ride to win a 15/15 Bucking Battle, their first reaction is pure exlihliration. But, in Anaheim, California, Derek Kolbaba just wanted to make sure he walked away healthy after his winning 89.75-point ride on DaNutso.
Kolbaba went straight to PBR Sports Medicine after getting hung up and stomped on by DaNutso, but he was able to walk away ok and fully enjoy the first 15/15 Bucking Battle victory of his career.
“Shoot, it is something else,” Kolbaba said. “I just need to keep doing what I am doing and keep riding consistent and everything should fall into place.”
Though his ride was superb, he was quick to admit the ending could have gone a little better.
“I wish I could have had a better get off,” Kolbaba added. “That is part of it. I am glad it worked out.”
No. 12: J.B. Mauney makes it two in Kansas City
Over the course of his career, J.B. Mauney had piled up countless accolades and two PBR World Championships, but until 2016 none of those accolades included a 15/15 Bucking Battle victory. So for a man who has pretty much everything, 2016 has been a year firsts for Mauney who has collected not only his first 15/15 Bucking Battle victory, but three straight. His 89-point ride on Wicked in Kansas City secured his second victory and was the beginning of a trend for the reigning PBR World Champion.
“I knew that bull and had seen him quite a bit,” Mauney said. “I never had been on him and wasn’t sure what he was going to feel like. I knew he would go either way and bucked. All I did was I just nodded my head and I didn’t turn loose. When he stumbled, it kind of helped me out and put me exactly where I kind of needed to be so when he jumped back up I kind of picked him back up and we went on with it. Once he got to whirling it was fun after that.”
The win came right after a fourth place finish in Round 1, which placed Mauney back atop the world standings. He has remained within striking distance of first place ever since.
“I don’t know. I guess all of the cards are playing out right I guess,” Mauney said.
No. 13: Jess Lockwood dazzles in debut in Sioux Falls
Until Sioux Falls, South Dakota, there had only been rumors about Jess Lockwood. Just whispers about an 18-year-old kid, still in high school, who had been taken under the wings of Cody Lambert and Justin McBride and was beginning to show promise the Touring Pro Division and BlueDEF Tour.
He introduced himself to the BFTS world in Round 3 with an 88.25-point ride on Tom Horn that not only was his first career BFTS ride, but won him his first career round.
“He came right out of there and wrapped it up to the left and the whole time he had me scratching and clawing,” Lockwood said. “I was fighting my way to get through there. I knew he was going to go back the other way at some point and he ended up going right back at the whistle and I stepped off on my feet and it was the coolest thing ever.”
It was only the beginning for Lockwood, who went on to win four rounds in consecutive events. He reached his highest point, though, just two weeks later when he won the Stanley Performance in Action Invitational, in Billings, Montana, his home state. He admits the metoiric rise has been a little bit surreal, but he knows he still has a ways to climb and that he has the talent to do it.
No. 14: Ben Jones comes through in the clutch in Phoenix
For the three weeks heading into the Ak-Chin Invitational in Phoenix, Ben Jones was fighting for his BFTS life. The veteran Australian had been flirting with the cut line and was in danger of missing not only the Ty Murray Invitational, the namesake event of his good friend and idol, but of falling off the tour completely.
That’s when he delivered, riding Cowboy Dance Hall’s Panda Trax for 90.75 points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round.
“I can’t thank J.D. Nix enough,” Jones said. “He called me down to his house a couple of weeks ago to go get on some practice bulls because he knew what I wasn’t doing right. He came up to me before the championship round and said 316 is your time tonight. I went along with him and I can’t thank him enough.”
The ride won him the championship round and helped him finish third in Phoenix. More importantly, the points propelled him to 19th in the world standings. The finish in Phoenix kept him on the BFTS and has helped him stay within the Top 35 despite his recent injury.
“It just means everything,” Jones concluded. “I slid up and said it was time to make things hang again and not worry about anything and that is what we did. It worked out good.”
No. 15: J.B. Mauney covers Brutus in Sacramento, California
The only thing that was missing from J.B. Mauney’s ride on Brutus in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Sacramento was the event win. Mauney had been in the hunt all weekend entering the last day of competition and he needed a big ride after bucking off in Round 2. He delivered in the first ride of the round with a 91.25-point performance, a score that was then the highest scored ride of the season.
“That was a lot better than the long round,” Mauney said, referencing his 2.1-second buckoff against The Don. “I knew that bull has a lot of up and down. If you don’t stay out over him, it is going to whip you down and hit you in the face. He is kind of like a Long John, but just quite not as high. He has the same amount of power and stuff. He really wants to bring a man and whip him down. Here lately it seems like I am getting along with those bulls so I figured I would pick him.”
Ultimately, Mauney came in second to Fabiano Vieira in the event but the ride was still the highlight of the early season.
No. 16: Shane Proctor rides Cooper Tires Brown Sugar in St. Louis
It had been two years since Shane Proctor last won a Built Ford Tough Series Event. That changed in St. Louis after a perfect 4-for-4 weekend for the Grand Coulee, Washington, bull rider. Proctor swept Round 3 and the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, topping off the weekend with a masterful 89-point ride aboard Cooper Tires Brown Sugar.
“He is one of those bulls if you make a mistake you are going to get bucked off, but you should ride him,” Proctor said. “But he is kind of a pressure bull and you don’t want to mess up. They tease you a little bit in the locker room if you mess up. He shot out there and instead of going left like he normally does he went right and when you work hard and you let things get on a roll luck happens to go your way. He turned right into my wheelhouse and it was great.”
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