By: Justin Felisko
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Ryan Dirteater walked into the Courtyard by Marriott Oklahoma City Downtown on Friday afternoon at around 3:20.
Dirteater was supposed to be at Chesapeake Energy Arena for a photoshoot at 3:30, but he was running late after hitting some traffic during his almost three-hour commute from his home in Hulbert, Oklahoma.
When Dirteater stepped foot inside the hotel, he was immediately greeted by a group of fans who were excited to see him ride one last time in Oklahoma City. Dirteater had announced last week that he would be retiring following the 2020 PBR World Finals on Nov. 4-8 in Las Vegas.
Dirteater made sure to say hello and sign some autographs before rushing over to the arena for his photoshoot. Fans like the ones he interacted with briefly on Friday afternoon were exactly why he wanted to make sure his retirement announcement was made prior to riding in Oklahoma City. He wanted his home state fans to know time is running out to see him ride in person.
“They were happy and sad, and said that they were going to miss seeing me ride,” Dirteater said. “But there was probably a dozen of them when I got there. They wanted pictures and to shake my hand. It’s pretty cool knowing that fans watch and keep track of our careers.”
Dirteater did not disappoint his Oklahoma City fan base in the arena on Friday night.
The 30-year-old rode Midnight Rock for 85.5 points and a sixth-place finish in Round 1. Dirteater earned six world points and heads into Round 2 ranked 13th in the world standings.
“It was a bull of Cord McCoy’s,” Dirteater said of the Oklahoma-based bull. “I watched some videos on him. Eduardo (Aparecido) was 89.5 on him in New York, and I think Cooper (Davis) got on him after that in the short round. He is real showy. That bull bucks. I guess I messed him up there towards the end just a little bit. They docked me a little bit for that. I was just glad to get by him.”
Dirteater missed last weekend’s Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic in Sacramento, California, because of a broken left ankle, but that was not going to prevent him from riding in Oklahoma City.
The 11-time PBR World Finals qualifier’s ride keeps him in contention for a third consecutive victory in Oklahoma City. Dirteater has won the last two events at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and has ridden seven consecutive bulls in OKC.
Dirteater is 17-for-35 (48.58%) in 11 premier series events in Oklahoma City
“I always say you ride better when the crowd’s behind you,” Dirteater said. “And it’s just, I love riding in Oklahoma.”
It was a good night in general for the bull riders from Oklahoma.
Brennon Eldred won Round 1 with an 88.5-point ride on GT-698, and Cannon Cravens finished 10th with 83.25 points aboard Trophy Rack. Eldred (concussion) and Cravens (back/leg) were returning this weekend from injuries.
Fellow Oklahoma native Colten Jesse was bucked off by Tarabull in 5.35 seconds.
Dirteater will look to defend his Oklahoma City title Saturday night in Round 2 against Little Joe (0-0, UTB) in Round 2. All of the action from Oklahoma City begins at 7:45 p.m. ET on RidePass. The championship round airs on CBS national television Sunday at noon ET.
Dirteater did not have any major plans to celebrate on Friday night with family or friends.
He instead was going to make sure to say hi to some fans on the way back to the hotel before grabbing a cold cuts sandwich and cozying up in his hotel room.
“I’m just going to find something to eat as quick as possible, go to bed, get some rest and get ready for tomorrow,” Dirteater concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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