Following an intense and action-packed weekend in the Twin Cities, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) is bringing 36 of the world’s best riders and bulls to Greensboro this weekend in an event that will be crucial to the championship race.
Jose Vitor Leme remains at World No.1 for the fourth consecutive week, but his lead is narrowing. Leme went 0-for-2 in Minneapolis, while Jess Lockwood won the 15/15 Bucking Battle and finished 3rd overall in the event, collecting 420 world points and cutting Leme’s lead to 671.66 points.
With only one event left on the premier series after the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic, it is truly crunch for not only the Brazilian soccer star and high school wrestling phenom. The entire field is looking to shore up their positions, better their standings or increase their lead. World points are becoming more and more valuable as the number of outs decreases with each round.
There are some key matchups to watch when the bulls come bursting out of the chutes tonight at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Key Round One Matchups
Gage Gay is returning to the premier series to make his 2019 season debut in his home state. For round one Gage has drawn Spotted Fever (0-0). In returning against a relatively unknown bull, Gage may come into Greensboro looking to notch an early ride start the event and his season after a long injury layoff on a good foot.
Cody Nance has drawn Frequent Flyer (33/4) and has his work cut out for him. Frequent Flyer is a rank bull who does not give up many rides. Cody – a leaner and ranker rider thanks to a new diet and exercise regime – might be able to dance with Frequent Flyer for a high-point ride. Nance may have to rely on his grit and not open his hand until his head hits the dirt; he should be to get a ride and hopefully, fans will get to see the jubilant “Nance Dance”.
Shay Marks has drawn Heartbreak Kid (37-0) for round one, and HD Page is changing the delivery for the bull from the right to the left delivery. It’s a bold move – think Joe DiMaggio changing his batting stance after hitting safely in 45 games – as Heartbreak Kid inches up on Bushwacker’s famous record of 42 consecutive buck offs. With a record like the one Heartbreak Kid has – in 66 outs on record, the D&H Cattle Co. Bovine has only been ridden once – it is hard to bet against the bull. Shay is a veteran rider but Heartbreak Kid might add another buck off to his record this round.
Cody Jesus who returned to the premier series in Minneapolis and went 0-2 for the weekend, as drawn Wild Goose (24-6). This is a rank bull who has been ridden in the past. Jesus will be looking to gain ground in the tight Rookie of the Year race, and if he’s able to dance to the 8-second whistle with Wild Goose, he may just win the round. Jesus does have the ability to post high-point rides on rank bulls. This will be an interesting matchup to watch unfold.
Rookie of the Year Race
On Aug 10, 20-year-old Dalton Kasel made his Unleash The Beast debut as the No.43-ranked rider in the world. Fast forward months and the Texan is now No.10 in the world within 200.42 points of the Top 10, and also the number-one-contender for the season’s prestigious Rookie of the Year honor.
In Minneapolis, Alan De Souza went a perfect 3-for-3 to capture the first Unleash The Beast event win of his career. He collected 460 world points and skyrocketed from No.42 to No.24 in the world standings, becoming a Rookie of the Year contender. Fans will have to get used to seeing double, as Alan is on pace to compete for his career first PBR World Finals alongside his twin brother and world No. 13 Alisson De Souza, also in the Rookie of the Year race. Alisson is currently third in the race, 143.75 points behind Kasel and Alan at No. 9 is 645.41 points back.
In winning at Target Center, and prior to that the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour’s Portland Chute Out the previous weekend, Alan De Souza comes into round one with the momentum of riding six consecutive bulls. It appears Alan does not have an easy path to the 8-second whistle in drawing Rusted Metal (4-1), but with 48 straight seconds of riding under his belt, he may get another ride down and make a stronger case for winning Rookie of the Year.
Ezekiel Mitchell, now ranked No. 2 in the Rookie of the Year race, is paired up with Whiskey River (2-3), a rider-friendly bull. Ezekiel who went 0-3 in the Twin Cities has an easy draw and the streaky rider should be able to turn things in a better direction, notch a ride for this round and gain a confidence boost heading towards round two.
Lastly, Ramon De Lima whose season has been plagued with injuries is returning to the premier series courtesy of winning the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour event last weekend in Huntington, WV. For this round Ramon has drawn Newt (2-1). Ramon is a talented rider and this may not be enough to get him a round win, but he should be able to notch another ride on his return to the premier series and have confidence going into round two.
This will be an exciting round of action affecting the championship race and should not be missed by fans.
If fans are unable to attend the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic, PBR will be broadcasting the event on RidePass the subscription-based digital network. Round one action starts at 6:30 P.M. EST.