Roberts Leads Group of Young Guns Pushing for Top of Leaderboard with Second-Place Finish in Indianapolis

By: Darci Miller

PUEBLO, Colo. – When Casey Roberts signed with the Oklahoma Freedom following the inaugural PBR Team Series Draft last May, he was an unknown quantity in the PBR.

He’d made one Unleash The Beast appearance in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that April, where he didn’t place, and otherwise had only five Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour events on his resume with three Top-10 finishes.

Roberts went 5-for-25 for the Freedom and returned to the Unleash The Beast in 2023, where he’s been proving he belongs.

He’s been consistently improving – in eight events, he’s placed in five, finishing 17th in St. Louis, 16th in Minneapolis, 12th in Manchester and 10th in Albany.

At the PBR ZipRecruiter Invitational, presented by Ariat, in Indianapolis this weekend, he put together his most successful weekend yet. Roberts went 2-for-3, winning the championship round, to finish second overall.

“I’m super happy,” Roberts told CBS Sports Network’s Kate Harrison. “I wish I’d have rode him a little better, but I made it work and got it done.”

He was referring to his 88-point ride on Red Demon to close out the weekend. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what he’d wanted – and the get-off was a little hairier than he’d hoped – but as the only qualified ride in the championship round, it earned him 28 points towards the Unleash The Beast standings. For the weekend, Roberts took home 95 points and is now ranked No. 17.

“That’s good stuff,” said two-time World Champion Justin McBride. “That’s the kind of ride I don’t even care what the score is. Look, his shirt’s ripped up. I mean, he got stomped on, almost got his helmet stomped on. But this is a big effort, and this takes guts. Because this bull is mean. Everybody knows it. And that’s just a refusal to give up right there.”

After the ride – his first ever in a championship round – Roberts remained on the dirt to watch it on the big screen in Gainbridge Fieldhouse, glancing around at the crowd before departing.

“Oh man, that one was a dogfight to the end,” he told Harrison with a smile. “I had to spur my way out of there and made it work.”

Roberts finished just 1.5 points behind Daniel Keeping in the aggregate for the event win, which was Keeping’s second of the season.

It turns out the kids are alright. Keeping was the oldest of the Top 5 finishers in Indianapolis at 23 years old. Roberts is 20; Tate Pollmeier (third place) is 18; and Austin Richardson (fourth) and Kyler Oliver (fifth) are both 22. Keeping, Roberts and Pollmeier are No. 1, No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, in the Rookie of the Year race.

Roberts attended Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where he received a welding degree before winning the 2022 collegiate national bull riding title.

The championship was a stepping stone toward where he ultimately wants to be.

“You can’t just start and become a World Champion,” he told in August. “Just like anything, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up.”

Roberts will look to continue working his way up next weekend at the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic in Sacramento, California. Round 1 airs on Feb. 3 at 10:45 p.m. ET on RidePass on Pluto TV.

“I think that this kid has got a really big future,” McBride said. “He’s won at all levels so far. He’s been a college champion, did some good things in the Teams season, and you can just see this guy’s got some fire to him.”

Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media

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