By: Darci Miller
TUCSON, Ariz. – Cody Jesus could very easily have called it a career before the 2024 Unleash The Beast season.
After yet another year of dealing with his lingering groin injury, Jesus admits that he contemplated hanging up his spurs.
But a talk with Texas Rattlers head coach Cody Lambert kept him in the game.
“The Teams season was hard,” Jesus said. “At the second event, I did something to my groin, and I couldn’t squeeze, ride a horse, for I don’t know how long. It got to the point where I thought about my career again. Lambert said, ‘Just let it heal up, and you ain’t going nowhere, and you’ll have a bull as soon as you’re ready to come back.’ It’s what I needed for my career, for sure.”
Jesus returned in late September to help the Rattlers down the stretch of the regular season, going 5-for-10 in his limited action. He went 2-for-2 at Rattler Days in Fort Worth in Texas’s winning effort and followed that up with a 2-for-4 showing at the PBR Camping World Teams Championship. Jesus rode Tijuana Two-Step for 88.75 points in the championship game as the Rattlers took their first title.
“It probably felt like as close as I’m going to get to winning a gold buckle, but with a team there,” Jesus said. “Everybody went through hard times on that team, went through buckoffs, and we kept picking each other back up. To get a big win like that, it was fun.”
Armed with a new buckle and fresh motivation, the Window Rock, Arizona, native returned to the Unleash The Beast in his home state at the season-opener in Tucson, Arizona.
And it couldn’t have gone much better for the 25-year-old.
In Round 1 of the PBR Tucson at Tucson Arena, Jesus rode July for 88.5 points and a fifth-place finish.
“I’d just been wanting to get on that bull for a long time, and I saw my name by him, and I figured we ought to ride him,” Jesus said. “He felt fast and strong, and it was a fight every jump. I didn’t know if I was going to get the whistle. I just had to try and make every jump count.”
Tucson is Jesus’s first UTB event since Billings, Montana, in April, but he competed in just six other UTB events in 2023.
“My groins were bugging me,” Jesus said. “It seemed like my groins, and then my wrist, and then my elbow. All these injuries just started coming.
“My groins have been bugging me for a while. They’ll feel great one week, and the next week, they’ll get really sore. I don’t know what it is, but it’s been frustrating. I’ve been working out, stretching, and just trying to make the best of what I’ve got.”
Jesus will try to keep things going in Round 2 in Tucson, which will air on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
When healthy, Jesus is a viable round-winning threat, and he came close in Round 1. Cassio Dias (89 points on Younts Brody’s Pet), Kyler Oliver (89 points on Concho) and Andrew Alvidrez (89 points on Sneaky Situation) tied for the round win in Tucson, while two-time World Champion and two-time PBR Teams MVP Jose Vitor Leme finished fourth with 88.75 points on Hostage.
While we may be into the individual season, Jesus is still finding motivation from his Rattlers teammates.
“I’m still hanging around my teammates because that’s who I want to be around,” he said. “They’re the kind of guys I like, and we all said we ain’t going to fall off today. I started it off, and I don’t expect any of my other teammates to fall off.”
Of the six Rattlers in the draw in Tucson, only Eli Vastbinder (3.7 seconds on Hell Bound) bucked off. Brady Oleson finished right behind Jesus in the standings with 87.25 points on Double Ought; Joao Ricardo Vieira rode Nitty Gritty for 85.75 points; Daniel Keeping rode Happy Hour for 85.25 points; and Trace Redd got on the board with 73.75 points on First String.
It was a hell of a showing for the new Teams Champions, but none of them – in fact, nobody else in the draw – got cheers as loud as Jesus did.
The Arizona crowd showed plenty of love for their home-state cowboy.
“Oh, it feels great,” Jesus said. “I sure as heck didn’t want to buck off when I heard that crowd going crazy. It makes you try a little harder.”
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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