By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Andrew Alvidrez peered off toward the Gulf of Mexico and let out a deep exhale.
Maybe it was the slight breeze coming over the edge of the USS Lexington or the morning sunshine reflecting off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, but Alvidrez was extremely relaxed.
At that point, he had not a worry in the world about his 2021 season.
“Really, nothing has changed,” Alvidrez said about losing his full-time draw spot on the Unleash The Beast and flirting with the World Finals cutline. “I know I am not the best rider here, but I know that I have the heart. I have the try. I have the will. Nothing has changed. My whole career, I have always been that guy that was just grinding it out, grinding it out.
“I know there is a time for everyone to shine, and I am just waiting for my moment.”
Seven days later, Alvidrez had his moment.
The No. 35-ranked bull rider in the world went 3-for-3 on the Unleash The Beast for the first time in his career, highlighted by his first 90-point ride on the UTB (90.25 points vs. Mr. Clean), to finish second overall at the PBR Monster Energy Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Anaheim, California.
Alvidrez earned a significant 93 points toward the world standings to move up to No. 28 with six regular-season Unleash The Beast events remaining before the PBR World Finals on Nov. 3-7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Seminole, Texas, native is 91.75 points ahead of No. 36 Kyler Oliver.
2002 World Finals event winner J.W. Hart credited Alvidrez’s effort during his ride Saturday night aboard Mr. Clean.
“You know this bull’s reputation is to go about two long jumps and spin to the left; Alvidrez didn’t fall for it, and the bull turned back into his hand, and that is what he really probably needed and liked the most,” Hart said on the CBS Sports Network broadcast. “He keeps pace with him. He keeps hustling. He keeps moving. He never was comfortable. He never had a real good seat on him, but he made it work through effort.”
World Finals Bubble Race
No. 30 Claudio Montanha Jr. (+70 points ahead of No. 36)
No. 31 Ezekiel Mitchell (+56)
No. 32 Cody Nance (+35.16)
No. 33 Taylor Toves (+24)
No. 34 Thiago Salgado (+11)
No. 35 Conner Halverson (172.5 points)
No. 36 Kyler Oliver (-9.5 points behind No. 35)
No. 37 Daylon Swearingen (-20.5 points)
No. 38 Lucas Divino (-24.5 points)
No. 39 Caic Cassio Carvalho (-36.5 points)
No. 40 Luciano de Castro (-40.67 points)
Alvidrez is now very much in position to control his destiny and qualify for a second consecutive World Finals. Last year, he was supposed to be inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, fulfilling a lifelong dream, if not for a C-7 fracture a month before the Finals ended his season.
Alvidrez was amidst the best season of his career last year until Oreo bucked him off in 3.71 seconds in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was sitting fourth in the 2020 Rookie of the Year race at the time of his injury. He made a splash in his debut in Little Rock, Arkansas, with a second-place finish, and he would finish runner-up again in September in Billings, Montana.
Alvidrez still finished the 2020 season ranked 26th in the final world standings. The 2018 Touring Pro Division champion went 9-for-33 on the Unleash The Beast.
Alvidrez missed the first two months of the 2021 season recovering from the broken neck. He then struggled to get inside the Top 30 of the world standings and take the next step in his career that he knows he is capable of.
Those failures earlier this year and breaking his neck made him stronger, Alvidrez says. He believes the riders who are most mentally strong for the stretch run to the World Finals are the ones who will rise to the top and be riding in Las Vegas in less than two months.
The Texas High School Powerlifting Association state champion has always taken tremendous pride in building upon his mental fortitude.
“I truly believe that talent is only going to take you so far,” Alvidrez said. “Winning is only going to take you so far. If you have experienced losses and failures, you will learn how to take those failures and keep moving forward with them. That is why you see guys that will come on the scene, win, and then you will never see them again.”
Alvidrez refuses to be one of those riders who is a flash of success and then disappears into the night. His most recent performance in Anaheim could be the catalyst he needed to indeed turn around his 2021 season.
The 24-year-old is 8-for-32 (25%) on the Unleash The Beast this year, and he only needs two more qualified rides to set a new single-season career-high. If he continues to ride his current momentum, he could easily surpass his No. 26 final world ranking from 2020.
That journey continues Saturday night in Newark, New Jersey, at the PBR ZipRecruiter Invitational.
Round 1 airs exclusively on RidePass on Pluto TV, beginning at 6:45 p.m. ET.
“Guys like me, we are going to be here,” Alvidrez concluded. “We are going to keep showing up, and we are going to keep getting on. That is just my attitude. I show up, and I get on. You have to keep grinding.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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