By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – It is easy to be mesmerized by 2020 World Champion Jose Vitor Leme’s ability to knock down 90-point rides on a consistent basis.
That was once again the case this weekend at the PBR Nampa Invitational when Leme rode Top Shelf for 92.5 points to win the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Leme makes things look so flawless at times that it can be easy to forget just how much determination and grit he brings to the arena daily. And he certainly needed to dig deep on Saturday night to pull off a tremendous feat even if the result was not an event win, a 90-point ride or even a round win.
Regardless, the world No. 2 bull rider put an end to The Right Stuff’s consecutive buckoff streak of 25 in a row on the premier series, and 26 overall, by riding the Chad Berger bovine athlete for 89.5 points during the championship round at the Ford Idaho Center.
Leme would have easily notched his 10th 90-point ride of the season if not for the final two seconds of his qualified ride. The 24-year-old was nearly bucked off just past six seconds but somehow held onto his bull rope while hanging off the side of The Right Stuff until the 8-second mark.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride knows a thing or two about hanging off the side of bulls – a la Camo at the 2005 PBR World Finals – and the CBS Sports Network analyst was once again left impressed by Leme.
“That is big stuff,” McBride told Craig Hummer on the Saturday night telecast. “That is a lot of guts and a lot of heart.”
Guts and heart.
Two characteristics synonymous with Jose Vitor Leme and just as essential to his success as his uncanny athletic ability and straight-up dynamic riding style.
Leme, though, was not perfect in Nampa this weekend. In fact, he had to pick deeper than normal in the championship round draft seeing as Smoke Show bucked him off in 4.38 seconds during Round 2. He selected The Right Stuff with the sixth pick.
It was the exact scenario Berger predicted a week ago in Oklahoma City. When asked how long The Right Stuff’s buckoff streak could last, Berger did not hesitate to respond.
“I will tell you. It is going to go on until Jose Vitor Leme picks him. Then I think it will end,” Berger said. “I don’t know if he ever will because he is hard to ride. Leme is always going to normally have one of the first picks. There are so many nice bulls that I don’t know if we will ever get around to it. We will have to be at a place where he bucked off one and have a later pick, and maybe he will latch onto him.”
The Right Stuff was marked a season-best 45.75 points on Saturday night, which is tied for the highest bull score of his career.
Leme finished second overall in the event in Nampa to go along with his 15/15 Bucking Battle victory.
World No. 1 bull rider Kaique Pacheco, meanwhile, quickly overtook the event lead from Leme by riding Chiseled for 90.25 points in the championship round to cap his perfect 3-for-3 winning performance inside the Ford Idaho Center.
Chiseled – the No. 2-ranked bull in the YETI World Champion Bull standings – was marked a season-low 44.25 points as D&H Cattle Company decided to switch things up and buck the 2019 ABBI Classic champion out of the left-handed delivery for the first time this season. Chiseled had a little trouble leaving the bucking chute and still wound up turning to the right and into Pacheco’s wheelhouse.
Pacheco then watched on from the locker room as WSM Jive Turkey surprisingly bucked off Joao Ricardo Vieira in 2.81 seconds to clinch Pacheco his PBR-leading fourth event win of the season.
Leme was also in the locker room at the time, and he made sure to congratulate Pacheco on the win as the world No. 1 bull rider headed back out to the arena.
The two riders are separated by only 66 points in the world standings heading into next weekend’s PBR Omaha Invitational in Omaha, Nebraska.
Professional Bull Riders – PBR NAMPA INVITATIONAL
Nampa, ID, 2021 – Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Kaique Pacheco, 87.75-74.75-90.25-252.75-125 Points.
2. Jose Vitor Leme, 89.25-0-89.5-178.75-90 Points.
3. Dener Barbosa, 0-86.75-90-176.75-71 Points.
4. João Ricardo Vieira, 87-87.75-0-174.75-63 Points.
5. Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 86.75-87.25-0-174.00-44.5 Points.
(tie). João Henrique Lucas, 87.25-0-86.75-174.00-44.5 Points.
7. Derek Kolbaba, 88-85.75-0-173.75-35.5 Points.
8. Eduardo Aparecido, 0-86.5-87-173.50-36 Points.
9. Alex Cerqueira, 84.75-80-0-164.75-23 Points.
10. Chase Dougherty, 89.25-0-0-89.25-25 Points.
11. Cody Nance, 0-87.5-0-87.50-19 Points.
12. Andrew Alvidrez, 0-86-0-86.00-14 Points.
13. Marco Eguchi, 0-85.75-0-85.75-12.5 Points.
14. Cody Teel, 85.5-0-0-85.50-12 Points.
(tie). Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 0-85.5-0-85.50-11 Points.
16. Taylor Toves, 0-84.5-0-84.50-10 Points.
17. Colten Fritzlan, 0-84.25-0-84.25-8.5 Points.
(tie). Jesse Petri, 0-84.25-0-84.25-8.5 Points.
Cooper Davis, 0-0-0-0.00
Rafael Henrique dos Santos, 0-0-0-0.00
Cole Melancon, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00
Junior Patrik Souza, 0-0-0-0.00
Boudreaux Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Claudio Montanha Jr., 0-0-0-0.00
Austin Richardson, 0-0-0-0.00
Brennon Eldred, 0-0-0-0.00
Eli Vastbinder, 0-0-0-0.00
Ramon de Lima, 0-0-0-0.00
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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