By: Justin Felisko
September 21, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – There is a former World Champion contender ready to compete way up north where the Bow River and the Elbow River join together to be one.
Matt Triplett is set to compete in his second PBR Canada event this weekend at the PBR Monster Energy Canada Tour event in Calgary a week after returning to action for first time since undergoing reconstructive left shoulder surgery in April last weekend in Winnipeg.
He may not have rode Ted in Winnipeg, but the 25-year-old said it was great to be back despite his 7.16-second buckoff.
“I feel great now,” Triplett said. “Therapy wasn’t as fun on my shoulder. The first six weeks I couldn’t put my hand over my head. So it was a struggle. It was no fun.”
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 in March.
The Columbia Falls, Montana, bull rider had only recently returned to competition two events earlier after missing the first nine events of the Built Ford Tough Series because of offseason surgery on his riding elbow.
Two surgeries in a five-month span made it appear as if 2016 was going to be a wash for Triplett. He had already set his sights on making a strong return in 2017. Triplett believed he wouldn’t be able to come back to bull riding until October and by then he believed it would be too late to try anything of significance with less than a month until the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2.
“It’s been a killer,” Triplett said. “I have almost gone insane. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I love riding bulls. It is my job. Sitting on the sideline not doing it just bummed me out. I love being around all my friends and it sucked getting hurt.”
However, Triplett made a quicker recovery than he originally thought during his rehab at D1 Sports Training & Therapy in Sioux Falls.
Instead of missing six months, he missed a little over five.
“I was supposed to come back in October and I went to Tandy (eight) weeks ago and he said, ‘Yeah, September 17 you will be ready to rock and roll and you don’t have to come back and see me.’”
Now, the rider that finished inside the Top 5 of the world standings the last two years thinks it may just be possible to sneak into the World Finals for a fourth consecutive season.
“There is like 450 points for 35th,” Triplett said in Thackerville, Oklahoma. “That is nothing.”
Triplett is 115th in the world standings with 80 world points. Cody Heffernan is 35th in the world with 486.66 points.
“I will go to a couple of PBR Canada and BlueDEFs and test my stuff out a little bit,” Triplett said. “If I do good and win a (BlueDEF), then you get that free (BFTS) exemption. I will use that and if I place first or second and get a couple more points I will come right back up here.”
If he feels like he is truly ready, he could always opt for one of his five BFTS injury exemptions.
“It kind of depends on the points’ situation,” Triplett said about burning his BFTS exemptions this year versus next season. “If I go to a couple of BlueDEFs and I place second or third and get some points then I will use them.
“I still want to make the World Finals.”
In all reality, time is running out for Triplett to make it to the Finals. He needs probably over 450 points to have even an outside chance of cracking the Top 35 before November, which means he really needs to earn points on the BFTS level.
Although there is another path to the World Finals that could easily work for Triplett, and he is very much aware of it.
If Triplett competes at the BlueDEF Finals on Oct. 29-31 at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, he could try to earn one of four BlueDEF wild card spots for the 2016 World Finals.
The BlueDEF Tour Champion (or the next highest finisher in the BlueDEF Standings not in the Top 35 of the world standings), the top three-event average finishers at the BlueDEF Finals not in the Top 35 of the world standings and the top international invite all earn a berth to the Finals.
Triplett would not be eligible for the international invite.
There are four BlueDEF Tour events remaining, including Sept. 27 in Memphis, Tennessee, and Triplett only needs more than 80 points to crack the Top 30 at this time.
The Top 30 riders in the BlueDEF Tour standings earn automatic bids to the BlueDEF Tour Finals with the Top 10 riders of the world standings.
“I thought about that too,” Triplett said. “It all depends on well I am riding. If I am riding everything, then there is no question I will come up here (to the BFTS) and ride everything. If I am struggling a little bit then I am going to go down the BlueDEF road.
“If I am riding really good then there is no reason to go down that road. I know I can compete here.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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