By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Dalton Kasel is ready to throw 2020 into the trashcan, and he is looking forward to hitting the reset button for 2021.
The 2019 Rookie of the Year confirmed Thursday he needs to undergo right groin surgery for the second time in eight months after an MRI revealed he had torn his groin for the second season in a row.
“I teared it again and stuff, but this time I have a bone chip on my pelvis and a small fracture on my pelvis also,” Kasel said. “I wasn’t aware of the fracture or anything. I don’t know if it was because my groin was bothering me or what the deal is. That is how I understand it. I will have surgery on my groin again to remove that bone chip and then that pelvis will heal again on its own.”
Kasel was anticipating the bad news from Dr. Tandy Freeman on Thursday, and he expects the surgery will cause him to miss the remainder of the 2020 season.
“Honestly, with how this year is going, this year has been a whole mess in the first place,” Kasel said. I am not too worried about it. I will be ready for 2021.”
Kasel plans to get the surgery scheduled with Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia for some time in the next two weeks.
Meyers performed a core muscle repair on both of Kasel’s groins following the 2019 PBR World Finals. However, Kasel never truly looked healthy in 2020 once he made his season-debut on Feb. 7 at Iron Cowboy. Oscar’s Ghost bucked him off in 5.59 seconds and the PBR Sports Medicine Team had to help Kasel off the dirt inside STAPLES Center.
The 21-year-old then took an additional two months off before riding at the Las Vegas Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, in Guthrie, Oklahoma, on April 26-27.
Kasel appeared ready to burst back onto the scene with a second-place finish at the Lazy E Arena. He went 2-for-3, riding Milburn Special (85 points) and Soup in a Group (90.75 points). It was Kasel’s last buckoff, though, that may have resulted in the torn groin. Three-time YETI World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser bucked Kasel off in 7.97 seconds, and Kasel can recall thinking something possibly was not right.
“In March, I went after L.A. to get an MRI and everything was fine,” Kasel said. “So it had to have happened somewhere between Guthrie and Vegas. I don’t think it happened in the practice pen. I think it may have happened on Bruiser because I felt it really tug on it. You can watch it back and hear me yell pretty loud.”
The second-year pro then went 2-for-11 in one additional Unleash The Beast event in Guthrie and five games for Team Lucas Oil at the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, last month.
By the end of Division B play in Las Vegas, it was clear Kasel was in a lot of pain and Freeman told him he likely had torn his groin again.
Thursday’s MRI confirmed Freeman’s diagnosis, and Kasel finishes 2020 4-for-15 at all levels of competition.
“It is just one of them things where I am going to take it as a learning deal,” Kasel said. “I know the Lord has a plan and I just have to trust that the Lord has a plan through this whole deal. That is what has kept me sane about it and not too worked up about it. I know the Lord has everything under control and he is doing what is best for me. I may not know what that it is, but it is all in his plan. I trust him.”
Kasel said one of the lessons learned is that he needs to be stricter with his rehabilitation this time around.
The Muleshoe, Texas, bull rider admits he wasn’t as thorough following his 2019 surgery as he probably should have been. His 2020 setback was not just a matter of him possibly rushing back too soon, but rather not putting in the necessary time post-surgery.
“I will be more cautious about when I will return, but also more aggressive in my rehab,” Kasel said. “I will make sure I do everything and do it absolutely to the best I can.”
Getting healthy could be one of the keys for Kasel to one day contend for a World Championship.
Kasel finished 2019 ranked eighth in the world standings despite not even making his Unleash The Beast debut until Aug. 10 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after he was given an invite from the PBR’s competition committee.
That invite turned into a Rookie of the Year title as Kasel quickly proved he belonged alongside the PBR’s best riders.
Kasel went 14-for-35 with two 90-point rides, the Nampa victory and four Top-5 finishes in 10 events.
Jess Lockwood won the 2019 world title after only competing in 18 Unleash The Beast events. Lockwood averaged 88.25 points per ride, which was the best ever by a PBR World Champion.
In comparison, Kasel averaged 87.93 points per ride in those 10 UTB events.
The talent is there. Kasel just need his health to catch up to him.
Kasel is not going to stress about a disappointing 2020 that never really got started for him either. He knows there are many people struggling with a lot more than he is this year, and he is going to continue to approach things with a glass half-full approach.
“The Lord has always given me a peaceful mind about everything, and I try to stay as clearly peaceful person because that is what helps me the most,” Kasel said.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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