PENDLETON, Ore. – Ruger Piva gets nervous before rodeos. That’s nothing new.
But the level of nerves that hit Piva before Monday night’s opening two rounds of the Pendleton Whisky Xtreme Bulls Finale surprised even him.
Piva pushed those nerves aside and covered his first two bulls of the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale for 168 points to grab the lead heading into Tuesday’s third and fourth rounds.
“I was super nervous, I almost threw up before both of them,” said Piva, who entered the finale in 18th in the Xtreme Bulls Tour standings. “Because just being that bubble guy I really want to win but not over-think it. That’s all I had to do was do my job and I knew I’d be somewhere close to the top.”
More importantly, Piva, who has never qualified for the National Finals Rodeo, is yet again on the outside of the Top 15 in the PRCA | RAM World Standings just a couple weeks from the end of the regular season.
The last two seasons Piva has finished 17th in the world standings, missing by a combined $17,090. In 2019, he finished outside the Top 15 by $13,128, while last season he missed by less than $4,000 ($3,962).
Before the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale, Piva trailed No. 15 Roscoe Jarboe in the world standings by $4,904. Piva earned $2,758 Monday night after placing sixth in the first round and fourth in the second.
He posted an 83-point ride aboard Macza Pro Rodeo’s Majestic Blues in round 1 and followed that with an 85-point ride aboard Sankey Pro Rodeo and Phenom Genetic’s Bouchon.
“It was pretty important (to get this start),” Piva said. “It raises your confidence, and I feel like it’s mine to lose now. Hopefully I can carry this into tomorrow and ride two more.”
Piva leads Stetson Wright by a half point.
Shane Proctor won round 2 with an 89-point ride on Outlawbuckers Rodeo’ Ritchi Bros. Wild Child, earning $5,170. Trevor Kastner, Jeff Askey and Creek Young split the win in the first round with an 86.5-point ride each, earning $4,021 apiece.
Sage Kimzey, the four-time Xtreme Bulls Tour champion and six-time world champion, is on pace for his record fifth tour championship. Kimzey entered the finale with a lead of $26,481 and earned another $604 after splitting seventh in the first round.
For Piva, the last two rounds could be pivotal in his quest to reach Las Vegas for the first time.
“This is the third year in a row I’ve been in this exact same spot,” he said. “I quit worrying about it; if it happens, it happens. I’ll do everything in my power to do it. It’s just riding bulls, that’s all there is to it. Whether it’s here or at the NFR.”
Courtesy of PRCA