By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Team Las Vegas captain Stetson Wright may be too young to sit down at a blackjack table or slot machine to test his luck, but Wright’s squad is certainly on quite the heater through the first weekend of the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol.
Wright rode Dynamite Cap for 87.5 points and Team Las Vegas cruised to an uncontested 174.75-0 victory over Team Wrangler (0-3) Sunday morning at the Pendleton Whisky Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at South Point Arena.
Team Las Vegas finished the first weekend of the Monster Energy Team Challenge tied for the Division A lead with Team Cooper Tires (3-0), but Wright and company know they need to be better if they want to continue to stay undefeated.
If Wright was playing blackjack, his cards may not have been the best at South Point Arena, but the dealer has continued to bust.
All three of Team Las Vegas’s opponents this weekend at the non-public event in Las Vegas went a combined 1-for-18. In comparison, Team Las Vegas is 6-for-18.
“It is way far from over,” Wright told PBR.com via phone Sunday. “You can go from the top one day to the bottom the next. You have to forget about you have done and just try and do better.”
Wright understands some may say the team got a tad bit lucky, but the team still took care of business and played the cards it was dealt. In this competition, wins and losses are what matters the most.
“A little bit of both,” Wright said. “I can’t speak for the guys on my team, but I don’t know. We all could have rode better I guess. But at the end of the day, we still won.”
Team Las Vegas is actually third in Division A in total aggregate score (520 points) and is one of three teams with six qualified rides. Team Can-Am and Team Union Home Mortgage also have six rides, but they are 1-2.
Team Cooper Tires, also 3-0, is 10-for-18 in Division A play, and leads Las Vegas by 324 points in aggregate score, which is the first tiebreaker for divisional standings.
The Monster Energy Team Challenge features 12 teams, 48 bull riders and two Divisions (A & B). The Top 3 teams in each division, based upon win-loss record, will qualify for Championship Weekend and a single-elimination tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on July 10-12 in front of fans.
Team Las Vegas and Team Cooper Tires have two-game lead on No. 4 Team Union Home Mortgage and appear poised to earn a trip to Sioux Falls.
“We really are consistent,” Wright said. “It didn’t necessarily show this week, but when we did ride, it was higher scores than most. I think my guys were just warming up to it just like I was. All these lights. The bigger stage. I think come next week we got the heebie-jeebies out, and we will be ready to rock and roll.”
Chase Dougherty was the only other rider in the Team Vegas victory over Team Wrangler Sunday to reach the 8-second mark, riding Silent Night for 87.25 points in Round 1.
The 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bull riding event winner agreed with his captain that there is room for improvement.
“I am just really happy with the way we competed this weekend,” Dougherty said. “But, with that being said, we know we’re good enough to ride more bulls. So that’s our plan for next week. Ride everything. It is far from over.”
Team Las Vegas is scheduled to next face Team Can-Am (1-2) next Friday live on CBS Sports Network and RidePass before a huge showdown against Team Cooper Tires on Saturday night, which also will air live on the two networks.
“I don’t think a lot of people saw that coming,” two-time World Champion Justin McBride said of Team Las Vegas’ undefeated record on CBS Sports Network Sunday.
Depending on how each team does on Friday and Saturday, Cooper Tires and Las Vegas could then face off again Sunday on national television on the CBS Game of the Week, which will pit the top two teams in the Division A standings against each other.
“It would be awesome to win against them because that is the team everybody is looking at,” Wright said. “But in my eyes, the guys on my team and me are just as good, if not better, than the Cooper Tires team. Not taking anything away from them, and I look up to the guys on that team, but I don’t think anybody here is better than anybody else.
“Everybody at this whole deal can ride good. It is whether you show up or not.”
Professional Bull Riders – Team Challenge – Game 7
Las Vegas, NV, 2020
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Stetson Wright, 87.5-0-87.50
2. Chase Dougherty, 87.25-0-87.25
Colten Jesse, 0-0-0.00
Brennon Eldred, 0-0-0.00
Joseph McConnel, 0-0-0.00
Brady Portenier, 0-0-0.00
Garrett Smith, 0-0-0.00
Roscoe Jarboe, 0-0-0.00
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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