PUEBLO, Colo. – The 2015 Built Ford Tough Series season kicks off on Friday night inside Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena and PBR.com will be counting down the final days of the offseason by taking a look back at the Top 5 bull riders at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
Today, we look at Matt Triplett, who finished the 2014 season third in the world standings.
World Championships: 0
2014 BFTS Stats:
Riding Percentage: 38.37 percent
Top 10: 11
Top 5: 4
90-point Rides: 2
High Score: 92 points on Walk Off (World Finals)
2014 Season Recap: A year after barely sneaking into the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals as the 35th-ranked bull rider in the world, Matt Triplett evolved into a Top-10 rider for the majority of the 2014 season and used a strong final month of the season to finish a career-best third in the world standings. It was a significant improvement from 2013, when he finished 26th in the world.
This past year, Triplett set career highs in rides (33), 90-point rides (2), Top-5’s (4) and Top-10’s (11) in his first full season on the Built Ford Tough Series.
He rode seven consecutive bulls in the month of October, including Oklahoma Bell for 87 points to win the Monster Energy Bulls on the Beach 15/15 Bucking Battle, and the Columbia Falls, Montana, native also rode at least one bull in every event of the second half except for in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Triplett, who began taking hot yoga classes consistently in October, also finished a career-best fifth in World Finals event average thanks to a 3-for-6 showing inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
2014 Highlight Moment: Triplett shakes off championship-round ghosts
While some can argue that Triplett’s World Finals performance or 15/15 Bucking Battle victory were his breakout moments of his 2014 season, those successes may not have accumulated if not for his 87.5-point ride on Freaky Eyes during the final regular-season event in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Prior to that ride, Triplett had failed to convert on 15 consecutive championship-round caliber bulls. None of which was more costly than when he came up just shy of his first career victory when he bucked off Compact at the 7.99-second mark during the championship round of the Desert Showdown in Laughlin, Nevada.
Following his ride on Freaky Eyes, Triplett went on to win in Huntington Beach, California, and capped his career-best ride streak with a career-high 92 points on Walk Off.
“For the most part of the year, except for right at the very end, he was having a lot of trouble converting on the championship-round bulls,” said nine-time World Champion Ty Murray. “That is something that is going to have to change. As soon as he changes his mind set for those bulls, he probably will start seeing different results.”
2015 Outlook: Therefore, with that being said, Murray and two-time World Champion Justin McBride believe Triplett has to continue his development of learning how to become a professional. It is a maturing process all bull riders go through at a young age, and both former World Champions believe that having a mental endurance to succeed will be important for the 23-year-old bull rider in 2015.
“His riding is fine and he rides great,” McBride said. “I think he needs some help on learning how to win on a consistent basis. Each and every time he (needs to) show up being ready to win. That is where I think his downfall is right now. Just learn how to win and how to handle himself during the week so that when the weekend gets there he is ready to win.
“Matt Triplett seems like a young guy whose focus is easily taken in different directions. I wish there was some old guys in the locker room, like an Owen Washburn, Ty Murray or Michael Gaffney, left around for Matt Triplett to be around because I think it would help him so much right now. He is a very impressionable young man.”
Triplett enters 2015 in search of his first career event win, something that he would love to cross off his bucket list sooner than later. Murray believes the physical talents are there and that Triplett is continuing to learn from his mistakes week after week.
“Every bit of experience you get behind you should make you that much better going forward and he has been to the show twice now and he had a chance to learn a lot being in a lot of different situations,” Murray said. “Matt has a lot of talent and a lot of grit, but he just needs to mature. He needs to settle down in his head. I think the Finals was a classic example of it. You saw him fire hot the first part of the Finals and then the last day was just horrible. It is weird to see the pendulum swing like that on a guy. That is just a matter of maturity and everybody gets more mature.
“I expect to keep seeing Matt Triplett step up because of that.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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