By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – Stetson Wright did not have a lucky charm packed in his gear bag at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa in June, nor did the 2019 PRCA All-Around World Champion decide to invest in a rabbit’s foot for Championship Weekend of the Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol.
“I try to consider myself my lucky charm,” Wright said with a bashful laugh on Friday night from inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “I don’t know. I didn’t show up today.”
A case could be made that Team Las Vegas’ 4-2 record in Division A regular-season play certainly had a fair amount of luck behind it, but Wright’s team took luck to a whole new level on Friday night during the first round of the Monster Energy Team Challenge postseason.
Team Las Vegas (4-2-1) and Team Boot Barn (3-2-2) each bucked off all seven of their bulls, resulting in a 0-0 tie in the first of two wild card matchups in front of the Sioux Falls fan base.
Therefore, in an unexpected twist, Team Las Vegas advanced to the semifinals on Saturday night for a game against Team Pendleton Whisky (5-1) based on a tiebreaker. According to the official rules of the METC, “in the event of a tie for advancement to the playoffs, the cumulative score of all regular season games is the determining factor.”
Team Las Vegas entered the weekend with a cumulative score of 776.75, while Boot Barn had a total of 748.25.
“We definitely got lucky with this tonight,” Wright admitted. “Gosh, I don’t know. I guess we rode good enough in the first games that we didn’t have to show up today. Tomorrow we for sure have to.”
Friday night was the second 0-0 tie at the METC, and two games later it happened again when Boot Barn and Team Can-Am finished in a 0-0 tie in the fifth-place consolation game.
Team Las Vegas will take on Team Pendleton Whisky (5-1) – the Division B regular-season champion – Saturday night at 8:45 p.m. ET live on CBS Sports Network and RidePass.
“We had two weeks off so we tried to get ready and healed up,” Pendleton Whisky captain Marco Eguchi told Kate Harrison on CBS Sports Network. “We feel better than we did in Vegas, and I hope we are going to do a good job tomorrow.”
Team Las Vegas is 4-2-1, and opponents have recorded one ride or less in five of its seven games. Fittingly – or luckily – Team Las Vegas is 4-0-1 in those five games.
Vegas is 9-for-43 (20.93%) and has the lowest riding percentage among the four remaining playoff teams – Team Cooper Tires (50%), Team Pendleton Whisky (41.7%) and Team Ariat (30.2%).
Through it all, though, Team Las Vegas has accepted the mantra of “a win is a win.”
Instead of dwelling on how they have reached the semifinals, Wright and company are not going to complain. They have to stay positive in a sport that brings with it a series of ebbs and flows, and their confidence has not wavered.
It is something Wright’s dad, two-time saddle bronc World Champion Cody Wright, taught Stetson at a young age.
You are only in a slump if you tell yourself you are.
“Yeah, nobody likes losing. I definitely don’t,” Stetson said. “But my dad has always taught me and my brothers to try and stay as positive as you can, and if you keep a good attitude, you can never really get into a slump.”
Team Las Vegas has now been shut out in back-to-back games (0-for-13) and has bucked off 14 consecutive bulls in METC competition dating back to June 13.
However, Wright is not going to say his team is in a slump.
The glass is half-full and not half empty, as some would say.
At the end of the day, Team Las Vegas is still alive in the Monster Energy Team Challenge – something eight other teams cannot say on Saturday morning.
“We are not in a slump, we are just flying under the radar,” Wright concluded. “I am not going to talk too much. We need to let our riding do the talking. None of us are in a slump, though.
“I do know that.”
Professional Bull Riders – METC Playoffs Game 1
Sioux Falls, SD, 2020
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
Daylon Swearingen, 0-0-0.00
Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0.00
Brady Portenier, 0-0-0.00
Chase Dougherty, 0-0-0.00
Garrett Smith, 0-0-0.00
Stetson Wright, 0-0-0.00
JC Mortensen, 0-0-0.00
Braden Richardson, 0-0-0.00
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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