Kolbaba Entering Championship Sunday in Omaha With Confidence and Momentum

By: Justin Felisko

PUEBLO, Colo. – Derek Kolbaba has four Top-10 finishes in his last five Unleash The Beast events. He seems poised to keep that streak going in Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend, not to mention possibly walk out of the CHI Health Center with his first event win since October 22, 2017.

Kolbaba tied with 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis for second place in Round 1 of the PBR Union Home Mortgage Invitational Saturday night with his 88.5-point effort on Lil 2 Train.

“It is great,” Kolbaba told CBS Sports Network’s Kate Harrison. “Any time you can set a weekend up and get some momentum going, that is bull riding right there. Confidence and enjoying what you do.”

Lil 2 Train has now been ridden in four consecutive outs for an average score of 89.31 points.

“I wouldn’t say there is any added pressure,” Kolbaba said about drawing a bull who was ridden most recently by Jose Vitor Leme (90.5 points) and Dener Barbosa (88 points). “I think it is more excitement when you look back at the last four rides and the lowest score was 88, so it fuels my fire to come here and do great. It was kind of a fight from the beginning, but I got the job done, and that is all that matters.”

Davis rode Zorro, while 2020 World Champion Leme notched his seventh round win of 2021 with 89.25 points on Blue Crush.

Kolbaba has drawn Peep Show (14-8, UTB) for Round 2 on Sunday. Peep Show bucked Kolbaba off in 2.68 seconds three years ago in Columbus, Ohio.

Fans can watch the action beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET on RidePass and 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

Kolbaba’s last premier series event win came in San Jose, California, four seasons ago. He won five regular-season events in 2017 as he went into the PBR World Finals that year as the No. 1 bull rider in the world. However, Jess Lockwood won the first three rounds of the Finals in Las Vegas, and Kolbaba would buck off his final four bulls as Lockwood snatched the world title out of his grasp.

Kolbaba has not finished inside the Top 10 since his runner-up finish to Lockwood, but he has also finished no lower than No. 13 overall. The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider finished 2020 ranked 13th in the world standings following back-to-back 11th-place finishes.

Kolbaba, who is still just 25 years old and has already qualified for six PBR World Finals, has the high-octane riding ability to again slip into the world title race. A win on Sunday would certainly help in that department.

The No. 8-ranked rider in the world standings is 501 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco.

I’m Busted bucked Kolbaba off in 3.11 seconds during the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night. Fans can watch the broadcast Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on CBS national television (check local listings).

Omaha, NE, 2021 – Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)

1. Jose Vitor Leme, 89.25-0-0-89.25-28 Points.
2. Cooper Davis, 88.5-0-0-88.50-17.5 Points.
(tie). Derek Kolbaba, 88.5-0-0-88.50-17.5 Points.
4. Colten Fritzlan, 87.75-0-0-87.75-16 Points.
5. Chase Dougherty, 86.75-0-0-86.75-15 Points.
6. Cody Teel, 86.5-0-0-86.50-13.5 Points.
(tie). Austin Richardson, 86.5-0-0-86.50-13.5 Points.
8. Eli Vastbinder, 85.5-0-0-85.50-12 Points.
9. Dener Barbosa, 85.25-0-0-85.25-11 Points.
10. Ramon de Lima, 84.75-0-0-84.75-10 Points.
Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0.00
João Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0.00
Marco Eguchi, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Junior Patrik Souza, 0-0-0-0.00
Eduardo Aparecido, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Alex Cerqueira, 0-0-0-0.00
Taylor Toves, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Nance, 0-0-0-0.00
João Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00
Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 0-0-0-0.00
Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-0.00
Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Michael Lane, 0-0-0-0.00
Brennon Eldred, 0-0-0-0.00
Kyle Jones, 0-0-0-0.00
Rodrigo Melgar, 0-0-0-0.00
Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0.00

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media

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