By: Justin Felisko
April 11, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Matt Triplett’s 2016 season officially concluded last week after the 24-year-old underwent reconstructive surgery on his left shoulder in Dallas.
Triplett is expected to miss at least six months because of the injury, which effectively ends his season almost as quickly as it began.
The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider had only recently returned to competition four weeks ago after missing the first nine events of the Built Ford Tough Series because of offseason surgery on his riding elbow. Triplett tore two ligaments in the elbow at the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals attempting to ride Calypso.
Triplett had partially dislocated his left shoulder (free arm) when he landed on his arm after being thrown from Beer Nuts in 5.82 seconds at the First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, two weeks ago.
Now, exactly five months after that surgery, he was once again forced to hop on the operating table.
“There is two ways to look at,” Triplett said. “I could either keep trying to push it and let it keep popping in and out through the whole year and have bad problems and issues with it all the year or I could get it fixed and come back next year 100 percent. I can then focus on winning a world title and not worrying about it.”
Dr. Tandy Freeman performed the surgery in Dallas.
“It was worse than they thought,” Triplett said. “I tore the cartilage off the bone and my labrum too.”
Sioux Falls was just his third event of the season. Triplett concludes 2016 1-for-8, with his only ride being an 86.75-point effort aboard No Regrets.
It is a disappointing end to Triplett’s season, which he hoped to build on following back-to-back Top-5 finishes in the world standings the previous two years. Triplett finished third in the 2014 world standings and fifth in 2015.
He had also been looking forward to competing in his home state this coming weekend at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational in Billings, Montana.
Triplett was the No. 1 bull rider in the world standings for eight weeks in 2015, and was ranked either first or second in the world standings for 16 of the 27 events that season. He also had a career-best 33 qualified rides for the second consecutive season.
Triplett caught a break two weeks before Sioux Falls at the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he narrowly avoided breaking his right ankle. Unfortunately, that luck did not last.
He began rehab for his shoulder Monday.
“I just have to take it one day at a time,” Triplett said. “I will do my rehab and put in the extra work I need to do to come back 100 percent healthy and be ready to go.”
Triplett is also trying to stay positive despite the disappointment and frustration over how 2016 transpired.
“Well the only thing you can do is try and stay positive,” he said. “I could have a pity party every day and be negative, but that won’t help me in life as I aspire to meet the goals I want to meet. I want to be a World Champion and that negative energy isn’t going to help me toward a world title.”
Triplett hopes to be able to return to competition in November just in time for the beginning of the 2017 season with BlueDEF Tour and Touring Pro Division events.
“I will go to all of the Touring Pros and BlueDEF events after the Finals to try and start the year off,” he said.
In other injury news, Dr. Tandy Freeman said that Ben Jones is also scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery this week, but that Jones’ injury (a dislocated left shoulder and torn rotator cuff) was much worse than Triplett’s. Freeman added that Jones tore three of four major ligaments in his shoulder.
Chase Outlaw, who underwent left shoulder surgery in the offseason, was in Little Rock this weekend and said his rehab has been going fantastic and he should be getting cleared to attempt practice bulls in the near future.
The Hamburg, Arkansas, bull rider won’t return to the Built Ford Tough Series until August, but he plans on competing at select BlueDEF Tour and Touring Pro Division events.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.