By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The hair on the back of Boudreaux Campbell’s neck stood up when he began to disembark from Buckin’ for Cash during the championship round of the 2020 PBR World Finals last month.
Out of the corner of his eye, Campbell saw a sea of cowboy hats being flung onto the AT&T Stadium dirt in Arlington, Texas. Two of his childhood friends, Mason Taylor and Ezekiel Mitchell, as well as two-time World Champion Jess Lockwood had jumped off the back of the bucking chutes and were barreling towards him.
Campbell had just won the PBR’s Rookie of the Year title with a 90.75-point ride on Buckin’ for Cash, and became only the sixth rookie in PBR history to win the World Finals event title.
It was the biggest bull ride of the 22-year-old’s young career. Winning the PBR World Finals was something Campbell had dreamed about since he was a little kid playing with toy bucking bulls in the back of his father’s truck driving down the road in Crockett, Texas.
“This is awesome,” Campbell said an hour after winning the 2020 PBR World Finals. “Words can’t describe how happy I am. I wanted to cry out there, but I had to hold it together. I am so blessed to be here. The good Lord and the father up above has made everything possible for me. I can’t thank him enough.”
Riding for 90 at the PBR World Finals is a moment the three teenagers dreamt about when they practiced at Campbell’s ranch.
“Boudreaux Campbell was there the first time I ever got on a bull,” Mitchell said just minutes after he gave Campbell a bear hug on the dirt and lifted him into the air. “It was at his daddy’s rodeo association. To see him come over and to do the things he has done this year, to make the NFR and the PBR World Finals in the same year. I was not able to win the Rookie of the Year and the World Finals event like him. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Taylor would sometimes spend weeks with Campbell, a Texas High School State Champion bull rider, training and going to rodeos.
“Him and his dad have helped me a lot,” Taylor said. “I have known Booboo for a long time. It is just awesome to see what he has done this week. I am so excited for him.”
It was quite the memorable week for Campbell at the World Finals. His 4-for-5 performance won him the World Finals event average in his home state, the Rookie of the Year title, $368,500 and helped him finish No. 3 in the PBR world standings.
Having two of his close friends there, as well as his family, including his dad, in the stands made it that much special.
“When they jumped out there, I was hugging Ezekiel and Mason,” Campbell said in amazement. “Guys that I high school rodeoed with, grew up with. There is no better feeling than that. Your best friends there got your back, and hopefully one day I will be there to get their back. That is what this is all about. This sport, we are not riding against each other. I mean, we are, but it is that bull we are riding against. We are trying to beat him. Having my friends there, words can’t describe that feeling.
“Zeke picked me up off my feet and man, it was just us out there. That was our moment together. I was glad to share it with them two boys. I love them.”
There is something else the trio would talk about as kids growing up in Texas.
Winning a World Championship in the PBR and/or the PRCA.
Campbell will now look to accomplish that goal beginning on Thursday night at the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at Globe Life Field, which is less than a mile away from where he won the PBR World Finals.
The No. 3-ranked bull rider in the PRCA heads into the NFR only $6,458.63 behind reigning six-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey, who sits atop the standings with $92,334.42. Ky Hamilton, a three-time PBR Australia Global Cup team member, is second in the PRCA standings with $89,446.55.
The PRCA bull riding champion is the rider who earns the most amount of money during the season, whereas the PBR uses a points system.
Campbell went 7-for-10 last year at the NFR, finishing second in the event average and second in the PRCA standings, $136,224 behind Kimzey.
Kimzey has been a juggernaut in the PRCA, winning six consecutive bull riding championships, but Campbell believes there is an opportunity in front of him to unseat the reigning champ.
“That is my goal,” Campbell said. “That has been my goal the whole time. Not really taking him down, but winning a world title. I have been fighting after that my whole life. I am feeling really good about this year. I think 2020 might be my year.”
If anyone can take down Kimzey, it may just be Campbell.
“You can expect anything out of Boudreaux,” Taylor said. “He don’t give a shit about nothing. He is going to show up and do his job.”
The last PBR World Finals qualifier to win the PRCA title was Kimzey in 2017. 2011 PRCA champion Shane Proctor was the last Top 30 PBR bull rider to win the PRCA gold buckle in the same season when he won the PRCA in 2011.
Campbell’s growth this year has been apparent, as he was able to bounce back from a poor showing inside AT&T Stadium nine months earlier (0-for-2 at the Global Cup) by keeping his emotions in check at the World Finals.
“When I got picked to come here for the Global Cup, that was my first time in this big stadium,” Campbell said. “When (Team USA coach) Justin (McBride) called me, I never had never really talked to Justin. I had just watched him on TV. I was kind of nervous showing up. I knew I had big shoes to fill. Cooper Davis was hurt. Chase Outlaw was hurt. I knew I had to step up. That experience just helped me. This whole life deal is about trials and tribulations. If you fail, a real winner is going to get back up and win again, and keep on winning.”
Campbell explained his success at the PBR Finals is only going to give him that much more confidence and fire at the NFR.
“I learned a lot this PBR Finals, learning how to shake stuff off and not let the big lights get to me,” Campbell said. “The big cameras. The media. It is just bull riding. It doesn’t change for me event to event just because it is bigger. You just have to do a little better here.”
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert believes Campbell could be set for big things at the NFR.
“That is great for him, and his confidence is over the top going into the NFR,” Lambert said during the World Finals. “That (win) is going to really be big for him. He won a hell of a lot of money this week. He winds up with a half-million year in the PBR for him.”
Campbell’s father, Jay, admitted he was “just about crying and shed a tear” as he looked on from his seat inside AT&T Stadium and saw his son accomplishing one of his lifelong dreams.
Jay and the rest of the family will once again be in Arlington rooting on their son, and Jay knows Boudreaux is at his best when that confidence is oozing out of him.
“One thing Boudreaux does struggle with is he rides on confidence,” Jay said. “If he has one downfall, it is sometimes when he falls off a few he tries to ride not falling off, and you can’t ride bulls not trying to fall off. Yes, this will definitely help his confidence moving along. Bull riding is all about confidence, especially at this level. These guys have all done this for a long, long time, but confidence is a big key in this sport.”
Boudreaux is ready to end 2020 with one more bang before prepping for the PBR’s 2021 Unleash The Beast.
“My plan is to go over there and win the average and the world title in the PRCA,” Boudreaux concluded. “Then I will come over here to the PBR and go after a PBR world title.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Christopher Thompson/Bull Stock Media
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