By: Justin Felisko
April 06, 2018
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Lucas Divino hasn’t appeared one bit out of place since making his PBR premier series debut three weeks ago at the Ty Murray Invitational.
Divino confidently stated inside Dreamstyle Arena, aka The Pit, that making his first appearance at the PBR’s highest level was no different for him than sitting at home watching the PBR on television.
The 24-year-old didn’t have to eat his words either in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as he went an impressive 3-for-4 to finish one of the hardest regular-season events on the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast in sixth place.
His first ride came aboard Alligator Arms (85 points) – the same bull in which 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood rode two years to win his first career event in Billings, Montana – and his last ride was an 88.25-point gem on Magic Train, which is the bull 2017 Rookie of the Year Jose Vitor Leme rode for 94.5 points to win the 2017 PBR World Finals.
“I am very excited to be able to ride here,” Divino said with the help of Paulo Oliveira translating. “This has been my dream since I was a kid. I always wanted to ride with these big names and everything.”
Divino heads into this weekend’s First Premier Bank Premier Bankcard Invitational ranked 33rd in the world standings following a mellow 1-for-3 performance in Glendale, Arizona, before the Easter Break.
However, the 24-year-old is certainly going to be a rider to watch during the final five events until the summer break.
Divino is 13-for-23 at all levels of competition and has as good a chance as anyone to easily follow in Leme and Lockwood’s footsteps and claim a Rookie of the Year title.
The Nova Crixas, Brazil, native finished runner-up to Leme last year in PBR Brazil by going 31-for-46 in 12 events with two wins, five Top-5s and eight Top-10s.
“I think of Jose like my brother,” Divino said. “To be competing against him felt really good. I watched him getting really better and (am not surprised to see him) achieving what he is right now.”
Divino’s success last year, as well as a 2014 Rookie of the Year title on the Circuito Rancho Primavera tour, has given him the confidence he thinks he needs to compete here in the United States.
“I had never been at a PBR (in the United States until this year), but I feel I have been in competition so it is going to be almost the same,” he said.
Divino grew up in Nova Crixas, which is the largest city for beef cattle production in the state of Goias. The city is also about six hours north of where PBR veteran Valdiron de Oliveira grew up.
Oliveira actually put Divino through a workout on Friday morning with Rubens Barbosa at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls.
“He don’t like to work out,” Oliveira said with a hearty laugh.
Divino got a late start to bull riding similar to Leme. Divino didn’t attempt his first bull until he was 16 years old.
“I didn’t have anyone that rode bulls,” Divino said. “My grandfather rode horses. My dad never got anything.”
Instead, it was riders such as such as three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi and Joao Ricardo Vieira that served as inspirations for him to pick up the sport.
“I was inspired a lot by them,” Divino added.
In fact, Divino’s riding style is actually similar to Alves.
The two are comparable in stature and Divino lets his free arm float and hang toward the outside rather than aggressively using it ala Leme or J.B. Mauney.
“Everyone says I ride more like Silvano because I ride with my arm up and out,” Divino said.
Alves agreed with the assessment, and Alves said he was excited to see how Divino would fare in the United States after only watching him at a handful of rodeos in Brazil.
“He is similar,” Alves said. “He looks like me. He is a tall guy and his arm is like mine. He has good potential to ride American bulls too.”
Divino isn’t bashful about what he wants his goals to be in the United States.
The goal isn’t simply to make it on tour full time and to become the seventh Brazilian-born rider to win Rookie of the Year honors in the last nine years.
Divino flat out believes he can still win a World Championship this year and become the first rookie to win the PBR’s illustrious belt buckle.
He is 1,420 points behind world leader Ramon de Lima, who Divino is living with in Decatur, Texas.
“Be a World Champion,” Divino concluded. “I have been riding really good and I feel like I have been doing my best ever. It is not my word, but it is what I believe and wants. It is what I pray for.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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