By: Darci Miller
LAS VEGAS – When Cody Teel got off the plane at McCarran International Airport on Monday, he and his family gathered their bags and he headed immediately to rider check-in at New York-New York Hotel & Casino.
He hadn’t yet looked at his draws for Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2019 PBR World Finals, but it didn’t take him long to find out which bulls awaited him.
Or, more specifically, which bull.
“When you have a bull like I had, (SweetPro’s) Bruiser, you don’t have to look,” Teel said. “Someone’s going to tell you. I knew what I had the second round before I had the first round.”
Indeed, Teel had drawn the three-time World Champion Bull for Round 2 in T-Mobile Arena, but he first had to get past Skeeter Peter in Round 1.
He did so to the tune of 88.25 points, good for fourth place in the round.
“That was a good young bull, another great opportunity I had,” Teel said. “I’ve drawn two really good bulls, and good opportunities. Him being right there around to the right into my hand, just a solid young bull, and I’m glad it worked out.”
Once that was done and dusted, Teel could turn his focus to Bruiser – though it was difficult not to do that ahead of time.
“It just takes a little more focus as far as taking it one bull at a time (when you’ve drawn a bull like Bruiser),” he said. “It’s hard not to think about it, though, but you’ve just got to stay in the moment.”
Teel was hoping the fourth time would be the charm, as he’d never successfully ridden H.D. Page’s legendary bovine. Bruiser bested him twice in 2017 in 2.69 and 1.9 seconds, and in 2018 in Duluth, Georgia, in 6.15 seconds.
“It’s just a big opportunity when your name’s next to Bruiser, because you know you have a dang good shot to win,” Teel said. “He’s got the best of me three times before. He’s never easy, that’s for sure.”
Bruiser may not be easy, but Teel finally got the monkey off his back. He made the whistle in Round 2 for 91 points, finishing third in the round.
His two-day total gives him the lead in the overall aggregate with 179.25 points. Teel is one of four riders to have begun the Finals 2-for-2.
Teel leads world No. 2 Jess Lockwood (178 points) by 1.25 points. Cliff Richardson is in third overall with 175.25 points, while Alan de Souza is fourth with 165.75.
“I seen Cody had him and I felt like Bruiser had his work cut out for him, because Cody’s had him before and about got by him before,” Page said. “And he made a great ride.”
Teel will take on Midnight Rain (11-2, UTB) in Round 3 Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Fans can watch Round 3 live on CBS Sports Network at 11 p.m. ET and on RidePass 10:40 ET.
For Teel, the No. 5 rider in the world standings, the ride was extra meaningful because he knows Bruiser won’t be around forever.
“Getting him rode today meant a lot,” he said. “His career is kind of winding down, so to get another shot and a big opportunity to have him at the Finals meant a lot. I’m just glad I took advantage of it.”
Teel is also taking advantage of having his family in Las Vegas to support him. His wife, Kaitlin, and daughter, Evie, traveled with him to Vegas, and he has more family coming in later in the week.
Evie is now 15 months old and attending her second World Finals.
“This is her second trip out here, so she’s enjoying it a little more this time around, seems like,” Cody said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s just everyday life for me, and having her here and a part of our lives has been probably the best thing that’s ever happened to us. I think my wife would agree. She’s a blast.”
Teel has been focused on bull riding since arriving in Las Vegas on Monday, but says the family might try to squeeze in some sightseeing.
“We might find some time to do something, but (bull riding) has pretty much been it since we’ve been here,” he said. “But hopefully. Maybe we’ll ride the rollercoaster or something at New York-New York,” he added with a laugh.
In the meantime, Teel hopes to keep his momentum rolling by keeping things as simple as possible.
“Just focus on the basics, and the process to get you here,” he said. “Our day in, day out, the little things you do to prepare yourself. That’s what I’m focused on. Just show up and try to give myself the best opportunity to win.”
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