By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Three of the top riders in the world standings are not competing this weekend in Billings, Montana, at the PBR Wrangler Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, but Cooper Davis, Joao Ricardo Vieira and Colten Fritzlan all expect to be back sooner rather than later.
In fact, all three riders told PBR.com they hope to only have to sit out one event and be ready for a return to competition as soon as possible, hopefully even in time for the May 22-23 PBR Bad Boy Mowers Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, in Jacksonville, Florida.
World No. 3 Cooper Davis (left thigh strain)
Davis – the 2016 World Champion – cut the deficit between himself and world leader Jose Vitor Leme to only 123 points with his victory in Omaha, Nebraska, two weeks ago. However, Davis felt a pop in his leg during his event-winning ride of 92.25 points on Trail of Tears.
“On that last bull, it popped right above my knee,” Davis recalled last week. “It was like four seconds into it, and I was like, ‘Holy crap.’
“I never had that happen before. It started spazzing around my inner thigh, and then after that, I just don’t know. Every day it has been something new with it. I am able to walk and stuff fine. It is spazzing around my groin. I started noticing stepping up on something it would start hurting down near the inside of my knee.”
Davis met with Dr. Tandy Freeman earlier this week and was diagnosed with a left thigh strain. Freeman explained to Davis that he could compete in Billings if he felt no pain later in the week. Therefore, Davis decided to doctor out on Thursday when he was still feeling some pain in his thigh.
“Tandy just advised me to wait if I still had pain today, so I didn’t really mess it up,” Davis said. “I don’t think I will have to miss much.”
Davis lost no ground in the world title race on Friday night, with Leme and No. 2 Kaique Pacheco bucking off in Round 1.
World No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira (abdominal strain)
Vieira is thankful to have avoided serious injury after getting hurt at last weekend’s WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi.
Vieira was in contention for the Corpus Christi victory, but Gladiator’s Hammer bucked him off in 7.39 seconds in the Triple Crown Round. Vieira met with Freeman on Tuesday and said an MRI showed no serious internal injuries.
The 36-year-old expects to be ready for Jacksonville.
“I got an MRI, and Dr. Tandy said it was okay,” Vieira said. “I don’t have a problem. I just am sore. He told me if I take one week off, I should feel better and be able to go next week. I am so happy to hear this. I just will relax this weekend at home with my family and watch the PBR on TV.
“I just need to rest, and I will be back strong.”
Vieira is 123.5 points behind Leme in the world standings.
World No. 6 Colten Fritzlan (groin)
Rookie of the Year leader Fritzlan was a late scratch from Billings on Friday morning after he was banged up Thursday at the PRCA event in Mineral Wells, Texas when he was bucked off by Scarface.
Fritzlan told PBR.com Friday his groins were bothering him, but he did not expect to have to miss next weekend’s event in Jacksonville.
“Just sore,” Fritzlan said when asked if his injuries were anything serious. “Just going to keep up on workouts and everything to get it going next week.”
Round 1 winner in Billings Chase Dougherty (90.5 points on Bread Basket) is hot on Fritzlan’s heels in the rookie race, and he now trails the 2020 National Finals Rodeo bull riding event winner by 156 points.
World No. 9 Marco Eguchi (bruised left thigh)
2018 World Finals event winner Marco Eguchi was hurt on Friday night in Billings. According to Dr. Tandy Freeman, Eguchi is questionable for Round 2 on Saturday after bruising his left thigh when Tarabull bucked him off in 6.38 seconds.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photos courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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