PBR fans are going to remember the sport’s late-2019 season visit to Greensboro for a long time.
With just one regular-season event remaining prior to the 2019 PBR World Finals, the already historically tight World Championship race significantly intensified in Greensboro, North Carolina, as 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis went a perfect 3-for-3 to win the Unleash The Beast’s Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic inside Greensboro Coliseum, while Jess Lockwood picked a bull who’s been impossible to ride, conquered for 93.75 points, and basically cut Jose Vitor Leme’s lead in half.
Quite a few stand-out matchups and rides in round two stuck out this afternoon.
Cody Teel, the long-legged Texan, entered the round with some momentum from his first-round ride on Heartless (2-4) worth 85.25 points. For round two, he was paired with Super Duper (0-1) as his dance partner. Teel’s bull was far from Super Duper. He was oscillating like grandma’s old fan. The ride may not have been as the bull’s name would hint, but it was worth 83.50 points making Teel perfect in the two rounds and a spot in the championship round.
Cody Nance came into round two in the Greensboro Coliseum after being granted a reride due to not nodding for the gate opening on his first bull Frequent Flyer (33-4) and slapping Paint The Town (1/1) just shy of the 8-second whistle. Drew Oz (7/1) but bucked off shortly after the ride started. Nance will be a rider to watch in Nampa next weekend as he will be seeking to shore up vital points in the final regular-season event.
The Tar Heel state and fan-favorite J.B Mauney returned to action in round two after going through pure hell in the chute with Why Hell Ya (0-1) and being shot out of the chute and possibly fracturing his fibula. There is tough and then there’s JB Mauney tough – he won an event with the same broken fibula this season – JB was not going to sit out round two action. He was paired with Flight Risk (9/1) and bucked off even though he looked to be in a good position when the ride started but came off shy of the 8-second whistle. This matchup stood out as several may have considered JB would turn out the rest of the event, or thought he should, but he still competed.
World Champion Race
Joao Ricardo Viera, the world No.4 ranked bull rider, came into round two without a ride from round one. He was paired up with Buffalo Scott (3-2), and while he has improved greatly with bulls that go away from his hand he still lost his rope early. Joao will look to Nampa to improve his riding and gain on the contenders in-front of him.
Chase Outlaw world No.3 who was just a hair away from notching a ride in the first round, was paired up with Wild Goose (24-7). Outlaw found a perfect dance partner for this round, dancing with Wild Goose, to get bucked off at exactly the 8-second mark. After a lengthy review, Chase scored an 85.25 and vaulted Chase into the championship round.
Jess Lockwood, world No.2 and the youngest PBR world champion was paired up with Honky Tonk Flame (0-1) which he danced with to an 81.75 point-ride. It was an easy trip for Jess bordering on offering a reride, but Jess remained perfect and had a solid pick in the championship round.
Jose Vitor Leme entered round without a ride from round one and seeking to break out of the current slump he was in Jose was paired with ZZ Top (3-4) and he danced to an 87.25 point-ride which punched his ticket to the championship round.
Rookie of the Year Race
The rookie of the Year race had some stand-out rides in round two as well.
Mason Taylor came into round two with momentum from Life As A Gangster (2-3) when the two paired up for an 81 point-ride which did not earn him any world points, but provide a huge confidence boost heading into round two. Taylor was paired with up with Dang It (3-4) for 87.50 point-ride giving him a great pick for the championship round.
Ezekiel Mitchell, who entered round two only 91 points behind Rookie of the Year race leader Dalton Kasel, paired up with Whiskey River (2-3) for an 84.75 point-ride in the first round and was set up to dance with Lefty (14-4) for an 84.25 point-ride which punched his ticket to the championship round.
The championship round was packed with heavy-hitting bulls, punctuated by two-monster rides that make the final regular-season event in Nampa next week a must-watch sporting event.
Jose Vitor Leme picked Frequent Flyer (34-4) a bull he had ridden for over 90-points Jose was seeking to limit the amount the world title race contenders – Jess Lockwood, Chase Outlaw, Cooper Davis – could chip away at his lead. The ride started great and looked like Jose would notch another 90-point or more ride on Frequent Flyer. But, he was yanked down just shy of the 8-second whistle.
Chase Outlaw picked Wicked Dreams (8-3) and it appeared all was going Outlaw’s way, but the bull got Outlaw on the end of his arm around 6-7 seconds and the clock stopped short of the 8-second whistle. Outlaw will go to Nampa hungry to improve his riding percentage and gain ground on the leaders in the world title race.
Ezekiel Mitchell picked Air Assault (6-1) for the short-go and the streaky rider who is quickly becoming a fan-favorite was bucked off quickly. Ezekiel did place sixth in the overall event earning 75 world points.
Mason Taylor, starting a hot streak at the right time, picked Hard Juice (0-2) for the championship round and the two danced to an impressive 88.75 point-ride. This ride earned Taylor third in the overall event earning 280 world points.
The top 5 finish, Taylor’s third of the season on the elite tour, allowed him to catapult from No. 16 to No. 11 in the world rankings, as he looks to qualify for the first PBR World Finals of his career.
In the Rookie of the Year race, he rose from No.5 to No.2, now within 21.25 points of standings leader Dalton Kasel, who went 0-for-2 in Greensboro.
Jess Lockwood shocked several when he picked Heartbreak Kid (38-1) for the championship round. This is a bull that has not been conquered in 38 straight outs. Plus, Heartbreak Kid had an impressive out in round one worth 45.75 after making short work of Shay Marks.
Swinging for the fences, Lockwood rode big. He and Heartbreak Kid danced and delighted the crowd with a 93.75 point-ride before he was slammed violently into the ground, a scary end to one of the most memorable rides of the 2019 season.
In breaking the bull’s long nearly record-setting buck off streak, Jess earned second in the overall event and 400 world points, cutting Jose Vitor Leme’s lead to 321.66 points heading into Nampa.
Cooper Davis picked Chiseled (5-2), a bull he Cooper has ridden in the past for great scores, which made him an easy pick. The two paired up for another monster, 92.75 point-ride – the fourth-highest ride score of the season– earning Davis the event title and 590 world points.
Davis remains the No.5-ranked rider the world, but gained significant ground as he looks to capture his second gold buckle. Entering the event 3,179.16 points behind No.1 Leme, he is now within 2,639.16 points of the top spot.
The Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic was indeed a classic. The regular-season’s penultimate even also showed, that while a long-shot pick for the world championship Cooper must be considered. That will be determined inside T-Mobile Arena at World Finals November 6th-10th in Las Vegas. He should not be left out of the discussion.