By: Justin Felisko
January 25, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY – There is a big X on Matt Triplett’s calendar for Feb. 27.
That is the date Triplett hopes to be cleared to return to competition following offseason surgery on his right riding elbow.
Feb. 27 isn’t just a regular Built Ford Tough Series event.
Instead, that is the day of Iron Cowboy – the PBR’s second PBR Major of the season that offers a $100,000 payday to the winner.
“That is what I am shooting for,” Triplett said this weekend at Chesapeake Energy Arena while in town for some sponsor activities with Stanley. “Riding inside Dallas Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Stadium). It is one of the biggest indoor arenas and is beautiful. There are so many fans. They know what they are coming there to watch. They want to watch the best bulls and bull riders in the world. They want to see the most 90-point rides and it is really exciting and sends chills all down your back.”
Triplett had two torn ligaments repaired by elbow specialist Dr. John Conway of Orthopedic Specialty Associates in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 6. He sustained the injury during the fifth round of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals attempting to ride Calypso.
The 24-year-old says he is currently about 50-55 percent away from getting back to full strength, and he is continuing his rehab at Green Oaks Physical Therapy in Mansfield, Texas, while also continuing to embrace hot yoga sessions.
On Saturday morning, Triplett practiced hot yoga in Oklahoma City.
“It is going good every day,” he said. “I have been going every day and mixing it up with yoga. I am doing some (cryotherapy). It is healing up excellent. I am just rehabbing it to get the strength back. I am doing curls, a lot of benching and the yoga is what so key for me. That is my therapy right now. It is a lot of yoga every day. It is unreal what that stuff does for you.”
Triplett was excited to see his friends in the Chesapeake Energy Arena locker room, but it was also not easy not being able to get his bull rope ready next to them.
“I never had this long of an injury or had to deal with this,” Triplett said. “It makes me sick being here right now. I love supporting my buddies, but it is killing me right now. I want to be back on so bad right now. When you have to be on the sidelines it is a big eye opener.”
Meanwhile, Chase Outlaw was also in Oklahoma City and said his recovery from offseason left shoulder surgery (torn labrum/rotator cuff) is also going extremely well.
Outlaw hopes to be cleared for a return to the BFTS by April, which will allow him to get some outs under him before the third PBR Major of the season – Last Cowboy Standing at Helldorado Days.
“Ah, it’s been alright,” Outlaw said. “I have been just doing everything on my own. I am hoping for April. Tandy (Freeman) looked at me last week and he said everything is looking good.”
Outlaw and his fiancée Nicole Evans recently welcomed their first child – Chloe – together into the world earlier this month.
He said his current six-month recovery is much easier this time around compared to last year.
Freeman performed the same exact procedure in 2015. The first time Outlaw needed 10 anchors to hold his surgically repaired right shoulder together, while his left shoulder only required four anchors.
“Yeah, especially because I have been doing everything on my own,” Outlaw said. “I am just doing the same stuff I did with the first shoulder. Bands and resistance. That and not letting it get stiff. I have been using it.”
Outlaw was ranked ninth in the world when he injured his right shoulder last season. The Hamburg, Arkansas, native concluded 2015 30th in the world standings. He went 16-for-43 in 14 BFTS events. If not for the injuries, 2015 would have been a breakthrough career-year for Outlaw.
The 23-year-old isn’t concerned about his second shoulder surgery. He knows what exercises he needs to do and isn’t worried about making a full recovery after doing so with the first shoulder surgery.
“Yeah it is. It is a lot easier,” he said. “That first six months with the first shoulder seemed like it took forever, but this one seems to be passing along pretty quick.”
Triplett finished last year fifth in the world standings after spending eight weeks as the No. 1 rider in the world. He was ranked either first or second for 16 of the 27 BFTS events.
The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider went 33-for-78 with seven round wins in 2015 and is planning on elevating his game when he returns to competition next month.
“It is going to be a new Matt Triplett coming in,” he said. “I always have trained hard, but I never have trained as hard as I am right now to get back into the most physical shape I have ever been in. I am ready to focus in on some goals that have slipped from in the past couple of years.
“I am so hungry right now.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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