By: Ethan Brown
BISMARCK, N.D. – On Friday night, PBR’s (Professional Bull Riders) Touring Pro Division returned to Bismarck, North Dakota, for night one of the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
Hosted by 10-time PBR Stock Contractor of the Year Chad Berger (Mandan, North Dakota) and his family at the Bismarck Event Center, the annual event has become well-known over the years for countless jaw-dropping rides and 90-point memories. The first night of the illustrious event definitely lived up to this history.
As the star-studded night came to an end, 2019 PBR Rookie of the Year Dalton Kasel (Muleshoe, Texas) leads the field of competitors going into Saturday by winning the first day of competition.
Having been out for the majority of the 2021 season after an injury required him to undergo surgery on his right elbow, the soft-spoken 22-year-old known for his youthful disposition had the crowd roaring early on in the night as he displayed his world-class abilities with an impressive 84-point score aboard Humberto (Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger).
The night could not have gone better for newlywed Kasel as he then blasted from the chutes aboard WSM’s Jive Turkey (WSM Auctioneers/ Clay Struve / Dakota Rodeo / Chad Berger) in the championship round to clinch the win. His massive 94-point had the crowd on its feet.
Reigning PBR World Champion Jose Vitor Leme split second place on Friday with Montana’s Dakota Louis (Browning, Montana).
Starting his night with WSM’s Foghorn Leghorn (WSM Auctioneers/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger), Leme had all the right moves and an 88-point score.
He entered the championship round in third on the leaderboard and made the 8 on Mr. Winston (Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) for 89.5 points to move up to second place.
Louis also proved that he could deliver with an 87-point ride aboard Dr. Campbell (Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) as the night began.
The 28-year-old, who is having a banner season, then returned to attempt Smooth Wreck (Diamond Willow/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) in the championship round. Making a big statement with his strong performance, Louis received a stellar 90.5-point ride score.
Fernando Novais (Pereira Barreto, Brazil) used all the muscle he could muster to find an 86.5-point ride aboard Lil Bit Crazy (Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) in the first round. The veteran rider added 88.5 points to his total on Soup In A Group (Wilks Ranch/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) to finish the championship round in fourth place.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Gage Gay (Staley, North Carolina). The proud new father made a strong effort aboard Big Red (Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) as the night began. The exciting ride warranted 85.5 points.
Gay returned to make a magnificent ride of 89.5 points on WSM’s Trail of Tears (WSM Auctioneers/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) but knows that he has the talent to walk away a champion of this prestigious event as he prepares for Saturday night.
In his last career out in Bismarck, back-to-back reigning Bull of the Year Smooth Operator (Julie Rosen/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) threw Andrew Alvidrez (Seminole, Texas) to the ground in 3.37 seconds for the high-marked bull score of 46. The legend of the sport celebrated with one last signature victory lap around the Bismarck Event Center.
As an added feature of the weekend, Leme returned for the very last ride of the night for a special $10,000 bounty-bull challenge. A challenge issued by Berger just several weeks before the event, Leme was paired with The Right Stuff (Diamond Willow/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger), an impressive bovine that has bested Leme in every past matchup but one.
This time, the reigning World Champion was in full control, receiving an astounding score of 95.5. It was one of the Brazilian phenom’s most memorable rides, second only to his 2020 PBR World Finals awe-inspiring ride aboard Woopaa (Barker Bulls/ Hookin’ W Ranch) for 95.75.
In local news, hometown rider Weston Hartman (Mandan, North Dakota) began the night with an energetic ride aboard Rising Sun (Heald Pro Bulls/ Clay Struve/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger) that received an 86-point score and had the Bismarck crowd on its feet.
However, despite the loud cheers from his friends and family, Hartman came down hard in the championship round after 6.08 seconds, bested by Carlier Cartel (Clay Strive/ Dakota Rodeo/ Chad Berger).
Fans can relive all the action from Bismarck’s first night at RidePass.com or via the RidePass mobile app.
The Dakota Community Bank & Trust Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, will continue on Saturday, June 19, at 7 p.m. CT.
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