By: James Youness
PUEBLO, Colo. — Just like that, the best bull riders in the world are BACK as the Unleash The Beast tour is set to officially kick off the 2024 slate Friday night in Tucson, Arizona!
From returning World Champions in Jose Vitor Leme and Daylon Swearingen to PBR Camping World Team Series standouts turned UTB rookies in Caden Bunch, Cassio Dias and beyond, the season-opening event is primed to feature tons of talented riders.
With the competitive 5-on-5 tour concluding just three weekends ago in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada, it wasn’t so long ago that the camaraderie-driven league produced one of the most electric and entertaining events in PBR history.
But when the lights go low and the fireworks begin, the boys won’t be sharing matching jerseys anymore. Or ride scores, for that matter.
While the locker rooms inside Tucson Arena are still expected to be filled with plenty of high-fives and celebrations as the collective pack continues to operate as a brotherhood, there’s one other major component guys won’t be sharing beginning Friday.
Maybe not the No. 1 motivator for every guy this early in the season, but nonetheless the avenue to paying their bills and providing for their families.
Especially important for the established group of riders who haven’t technically clinched their UTB qualification status this year but are instead competing this weekend as alternates (while several riders continue to recover from injuries or remain outside of the country, visiting family and taking care of VISA paperwork for the season’s stretch.)
We’re talking about guys like Ezekiel Mitchell, Boudreaux Campbell and Kyler Oliver: Riders who have made a lasting impression on bull riding fans but find themselves on the outside looking in thanks to all of the up-and-coming talent who showed their best throughout PBR Teams and PBR Challenger Series competition over the summer.
Unlike the riders who have successfully qualified for UTB status coming into the season, who are guaranteed spots at the first four events, Mitchell and company will need to get some points on the board this weekend if they hope to compete next month in St. Louis.
Meanwhile for pack frontrunners like Leme, who finished just 87 points ahead of Dias to capture his second-consecutive PBR Teams MVP title, it’s an opportunity to build on his tour-best 23-for-32 record from the summer, including a flawless 3-for-3 during the postseason tournament. His Austin Gamblers’ teammate Dalton Kasel is due to return to his typical “Mr. 90 Points” form after ending his 5-on-5 campaign with 11-straight buckoffs.
His last conversion? A quality 90.25-point journey atop Tulsa Time, just as his nickname suggests.
However, that ride came almost two months ago, so Kasel will look to press the reset button off the rip, beginning with his Friday night showdown with Carlos Danger during the night’s second-to-last out.
One of just two riders entering this weekend’s competition without a PBR Teams contract (joining budding superstar John Crimber), 2002 World Champion Ednei Caminhas returns to premier series action after spending the summer competing against Crimber and company within the PBR Challenger Series.
After turning in a second-place finish at the 2023 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals in Corpus Christi, Texas, last season and missing the 2023 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast by 2.25 points (as Joao Lucas Campos won the event, thus qualifying for his first-ever World Finals), the skilled 48-year-old isn’t worried about being the oldest rider on tour. He’s concentrated on making the 8 and will hope to start his 2024 season with a ride, set to dance with Kiss during Friday’s Round 1 showdown.
With the 2024 Unleash The Beast season set to begin inside Tucson Arena on Friday, Nov. 10, let’s take a look at who’s drawing into the lineup during this weekend’s PBR Tucson:
ROUND 1 MATCHUPS
Ezekiel Mitchell vs. Black Gold
Cladson Rodolfo vs. Show Me
Kaiden Loud vs. Hostile
*Jesse Petri vs. Lone Star
Daylon Swearingen vs. Buster Moon
Cody Jesus vs. July
Wyatt Rogers vs. Whack Attack
Ednelio Almeida vs. Mr. Clean
*Koltin Hevalow vs. Cherry Bomb
Paulo Eduardo Rosseto vs. Hell Storm
Alex Cerqueira vs. Big Worm
Rafael dos Santos vs. Black Tie
Lucas Divino vs. Dangerous Medicine
Thiago Salgado vs. High Wire
Bob Mitchell vs. Dr. Feel Good
Casey Roberts vs. Magic Time
Ednei Caminhas vs. Kiss
Julio Cesar Marques vs. Ram Jam
Eli Vastbinder vs. Hell Bound
Brady Oleson vs. Double Ought
Trace Redd vs. First String
Cassio Dias vs. Younts Brody’s Pet
Kyler Oliver vs. Taylor’s Cowtown Throwdown
Jean Fernandes Pereira vs. Preston’s Piston
Conner Halverson vs. WSM’s Unstoppable
*Briggs Madsen vs. Blackstone
Chase Dougherty vs. Big Time
Caden Bunch vs. Ah Hell
Mauricio Gulla Moreira vs. Devil’s Revenge
Austin Richardson vs. Old School
John Crimber vs. Border Wall
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Nitty Gritty
Sage Steele Kimzey vs. Texas Twister
Daniel Keeping vs. Happy Hour
Boudreaux Campbell vs. Coach K
Andrew Alvidrez vs. Border Crisis
Dalton Kasel vs. Carlos Danger
*Jose Vitor Leme vs. Hostage
* denotes a rematch
OUT BECAUSE OF INJURY/OTHER
Wingson Henrique da Silva
Alan de Souza
Luciano de Castro
ROUND 1 REMATCHES
Briggs Madsen vs. Blackston (3.56 seconds in Big Sky, Montana)
Jesse Petri vs. Lone Star (2.26 seconds in Sacramento, California)
Jose Vitor Leme vs. Hostage (91.25 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma; 90 points in Rocksprings, Texas; 1.24 seconds in Louisville, Kentucky; 1.59 seconds in Nashville, Tennessee; 2.19 seconds in Guthrie, Oklahoma; 2.57 seconds in Los Angeles, California)
Koltin Hevalow vs. Cherry Bomb (87.5 points in Anaheim, California)
PBR TEAMS, 2023 EVENT CHAMP BRADY OLESON RETURNS TO TUCSON
Fresh off helping his Texas Rattlers capture the 2023 PBR Teams Championship in Las Vegas last month, Brady Oleson returns to Tucson Arena Friday night one year after clinching the first event title of his season in 2023. Producing a perfect 3-for-3 showcase, he began his dominant run with an 89.75-point ride aboard Hard Candy. Continuing his momentum in Round 2, he later bested White Face for 88 points to punch his ticket to the short round. Completing the flawless weekend en route to capturing the event title, Oleson posted a rank 90.75-point ride atop Pickle Moonshine, which continues to represent the second-best score of his young career.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
Set to dance with Border Wall Friday night during his Unleash The Beast debut, 18-year-old John Crimber is one of six rookies who are expected to make their premier series debut. Most recently competing north of the border, the talented youngster turned in a flawless 3-for-3 effort en route to capturing the event title during his first PBR Canada competition. Representing his 10th win since getting his PBR Card just three months ago, the budding superstar will look to get things started with a qualified ride in Tucson. Joining Crimber are fellow first-year UTB competitors Jean Fernandes Pereira, Paulo Rosseto, Kaiden Loud, Trace Redd and Julio Cesar Marques.
The two-day, three-round showcase inside of Tucson Arena is set to begin Friday, Nov. 10 at 7:45 p.m. MST, with Round 1 action being broadcast on RidePass on Pluto TV. The second round and championship go are slated to take place on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 6:45 p.m. MST and later air Sunday, Nov. 12 on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. MST.
Fans can stay tuned to PBR.com and PBR social media channels throughout the weekend for the latest scores, wrecks, injury updates and beyond as Unleash The Beast prepares to invade Tucson during the 2024 season kickoff event!
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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