By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney is not going to panic despite his world ranking, but the future Ring of Honor inductee understood this week that he had to find ways to break out of the funk that he has been in since he returned to competition last month following offseason right shoulder surgery.
Mauney voiced no concerns as he was driving his Prism motorhome back to Texas following the PBR Ariat Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Billings, Montana, last weekend. Mauney was 2-for-12 was sitting 98th in the world standings as he gripped the steering wheel and headed south.
“I need to get on more bulls,” Mauney said. “I am not sitting my hips as good as I was. I am still rusty as shit. I just need to get on more bulls to get everything moving the way it is supposed to be.”
Mauney did just that and successfully rode at two PRCA rodeos on Thursday and Friday night before winning Round 1 of the PBR Lucas Oil Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday night with a season-best, 88.5-point ride on Show Me Homie.
All you had to see was Mauney’s celebration, which involved a bear hug for U.S. Border Patrol bullfighter Cody Webster and high-fives with PBR exclusive entertainer Flint Rasmussen, to understand just how much he cares about getting things back on track.
“I have been rusty here the past few weeks,” Mauney told Kate Harrison on CBS Sports Network. “I needed to get something going, and I felt like I made a good ride on that bull and I am pumped. I am ready to get on more bulls.”
The 14-time PBR World Finals qualifier is desperately trying to claw his way back to the World Finals for a 15th consecutive time. Mauney earned 20 world points with his first round victory on the premier series since he tied with Ezekiel Mitchell last year in Springfield, Missouri, for the Round 3 victory (87 points on Black Cadillac).
Mauney jumped from No. 98 to No. 62 in the world standings. He heads into Championship Sunday 61.5 points out of the Top 35.
“You never change no matter where you are in the standings, whether you’re first or at the very bottom,” Mauney told Kate Harrison on CBS Sports Network. “It’s got to be the same mentality whenever you crawl into the bucking chutes. You want to win. I know the past couple weeks I have been first on one seat I didn’t want to be first on, and that is the intro list. That means you are coming in last hole so I wanted to change it.”
Mauney had originally drawn Poncho Villa before earning a re-ride with Show Me Homie after he was unable to leave the chutes.
The North Carolina native has drawn Kid Knapper (0-0, UTB) for Round 2 on Championship Sunday (4 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network and RidePass).
A victory in Des Moines would not only earn Mauney 80 world points and push him back into the Top 35, but it would also give him a PBR-record 33rd event victory on the premier series.
Mauney has started to turn a small corner this week, and it began on Thursday night in Abilene, Texas. He has now ridden three consecutive bulls if you factor in his performances at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo (83.5 points on Disastrous) Thursday and at the Springhill PRCA rodeo Friday night (88 points on Bar Fly).
There were seven total qualified rides in Round 1, including two from riders, like Mauney, outside of the World Finals picture in No. 53 Keith Hall (-43 points behind the Top 35) and No. 54 Junio Patrik Souza (-41.5 points). Hall earned the first ride of his premier series career with 85 points on Tapp Out, while Souza rode My Time for 82 points.
Mauney has had to battle his way to the World Finals in recent seasons. In 2018, he entered the final regular-season event of the premier series ranked No. 32 in the world standings. How did he respond? He went a perfect 3-for-3 to essentially clinch himself a spot at the 2018 World Finals.
The fan favorite still has four more Unleash The Beast events following this weekend to try and keep his World Finals streak alive.
“I feel good. It was just little shit I needed to fix,” Mauney said. “I feel like I am moving like I am supposed to be. I feel good. I am just getting all the ducks back in a row.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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