By: Darci Miller
PUEBLO, Colo. – After 10-plus days of competition and 31 games, the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, was witness to something entirely new.
With 12 outs between them, Team Ariat (4-0-1) and Team Boot Barn (2-2-1) walked away from their Saturday night showdown at the Pendleton Whisky Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at the South Point Arena with matching 86.5-point scores.
Team Boot Barn now faces a must-win scenario as it heads into its game against No. 3 Team South Point (3-2) on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. ET on CBS Sports Network and RidePass.
The Top 3 teams in the Division B standings following Sunday’s competition qualify for Championship Weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which will take place at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in front of fans on July 10-12.
The top finishers in Division B will join Team Cooper Tires, Team Las Vegas and Team Can-Am from Division A.
Team Ariat and Team Pendleton Whisky have already claimed two of those three spots, and the third comes down to either Boot Barn or South Point.
For Team Ariat, the implications of the tie complicate its playoff picture. The squad still holds the No. 1 position in Division B, ahead of Team Pendleton Whisky (4-1) by half a game, and clinched its playoff berth with its win on Friday night.
On Sunday, however, Ariat will take on Pendleton Whisky in the Game of the Week on CBS national television at 1 p.m. ET with the No. 1 position – and a bye through the first round in Sioux Falls – at stake.
Rides were at a premium Saturday night, and even the top two teams in the aggregate – Pendleton Whisky with 1,001 points, Ariat with 858.50 points – struggled to get any momentum going.
Rookie Andrew Alvidrez got Team Boot Barn on the board in the first half of the game. After riding Crack Attack for 67 points, Alvidrez was awarded a re-ride, and then another, ultimately riding Heartaches & Grease for 86.5 points.
Another re-ride coming up for Alvidrez.
— Justin Felisko (@jfelisko) June 28, 2020
“Really, really impressed with this guy, and just the difference between what we’ve seen a month ago in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to where he’s at now,” said two-time World Champion Justin McBride on CBS Sports Network. “I mean, this is the second time he’s ridden this bull now, and this bull went both directions on him both times, into his hand and back away from it, and he handles him no problem.”
Alvidrez would ultimately buck off Snake Eyes in his second out of the game, but is 3-for-4 at the Monster Energy Team Challenge since making his debut on Friday, and has put Team Boot Barn on his back.
“We still have a lot more to do,” Alvidrez told PBR Insider Justin Felisko on Friday. “It is a whole weekend thing and then it goes to Sioux Falls. We need more than just one win. That is how I see it.”
Tyler Bingham started the second half of the game with an answer for Team Ariat, riding Dusty’s Revenge for 86.5 points, and ending the scoring for both squads.
Bingham was a bit of an unexpected hero for Team Ariat, which had previously been led by Team Captain Cooper Davis (4-for-10) and Australian rising star Ky Hamilton (5-for-9). Bingham had previously been 0-for-5 in Las Vegas, while Dusty’s Revenge had bucked off nine consecutive riders.
“That is just the pick-me-up that Ariat was needing right there,” McBride said. “Their stars really hadn’t been firing on all cylinders, Hamilton being out, and Bingham, that was a great job of not letting the bull’s stats buck you off.”
Hamilton was unable to get on his second bull after hyperextending his right elbow and getting hit in the jaw during his 3.11-second buckoff against Get Shorty. He is questionable for Sunday with a possible left mandible (jaw) fracture, according to Dr. Tandy Freeman.
Alvidrez has drawn Buckin’ for Cash and The Lodge as Boot Barn takes on South Point on Sunday, while Bingham has drawn Drop the Hammer and Jaynettes Pet 2 as Ariat faces Pendleton Whisky.
Professional Bull Riders – Team Challenge – Game 31
Las Vegas, NV, 2020
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Andrew Alvidrez, 86.75-0-86.75
(tie). Tyler Bingham, 0-86.75-86.75
Daylon Swearingen, 0-0-0.00
Cooper Davis, 0-0-0.00
Ky Hamilton, 0-0-0.00
JC Mortensen, 0-0-0.00
Braden Richardson, 0-0-0.00
Maverick Potter, 0-0-0.00
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