LINCOLN, Neb. – On the opening night of competition for the first-ever PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast event held in Lincoln, Nebraska, at Pinnacle Bank Arena, one former PBR World Champion showed he’s ready for a world title run and another took a big leap toward yet another World Finals qualification when the season culminating event is held in Arlington, Texas on Nov. 12-15 at AT&T Stadium.
Topping the contingent of nine riders who delivered a score on Saturday evening, 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas) won Round 1 for the PBR Wrangler Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, making the 8 aboard Cold Chill (D&H Cattle Co./Futrell) for 89 points, to net a critical 20 world points and $3,133.81.
“That was a really good bull,” Davis said. “I’ve been looking forward to him since I’ve seen my draw. I knew that I couldn’t waste him. Last weekend, I didn’t ride anything, so getting one knocked out in the first round feels amazing. Hopefully, we can get started on a roll this weekend.”
Davis won his fourth round of the season and climbed one position in the world standings, now No. 8 and within 986.5 points of No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil).
Davis, who was sidelined for the entirety of the first half with a broken neck, is seeking his sixth consecutive qualification to the PBR World Finals when the season-culminating event makes its debut inside the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys this November.
Should Davis continue his come from behind surge and capture the 2020 PBR World Championship, he would join an elite contingent of multi-time PBR World Champions, a feat which has only been accomplished by six riders: Adriano Moraes (1994, 2001 and 2006), Chris Shivers (2000 and 2003), Justin McBride (2005 and 2007), Silvano Alves (2011-2012 and 2014), J.B. Mauney (2013 and 2015) and Jess Lockwood (20017 and 2019).
Davis, who has yet to win an Unleash The Beast event in 2020, will attempt Wicked Hou (Hart Cattle Co./Hale/Randy Wood) in Round 2 as he tries to capture his first elite tour victory of 2020.
Leme, who is seeking his fourth consecutive Unleash The Beast victory, finished sixth in Round 1 compliments of his 86-point ride on Gangster Time (C Check Bucking Bulls).
Netting $496.39 and six world points, the Brazilian phenom furthered his stronghold on the world No. 1 ranking, expanding his lead over No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil) to 551.09 points.
The 8-second effort was his eighth consecutive ride in what has been a dominant 2020 season in which the western sports world is running out of superlatives to describe.
In addition to having amassed more than double the points of any other rider except Vieira, Leme leads the PBR in most Unleash The Beast victories (7), round wins (15), 90-point rides (8) and bulls ridden (39).
Bread Basket (L4 Livestock) awaits Leme in Round 2.
Young gun Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York) was second in Round 1, collecting $2,103.13 and 10 world points.
Originally matched with Bloody Knuckles (C Check Bucking Bulls), the 21-year-old earned a re-ride after earning a score of a slim 75.25 points. Seizing the moment, a poised Swearingen went the distance aboard Sun Country (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/WSM Auctioneers) for 88.75 points.
Swearingen maintained his world No. 6 rank, while slightly narrowing the gap with world No. 1 Leme who he now trails by 779.4 points.
The New York native will attempt Sky Harbor (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Wilks Ranch) in Round 2 as he looks to climb the leaderboard and notch his second premier series win of the season. The showdown is a familiar one for Swearingen, bucked off by the powerful bovine athlete in 2.98 seconds during the August event in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington) was third, bringing the electric crowd inside Pinnacle Bank Arena to its feet when he rode Burn it Down (L&E Bucking Bulls) for 88.25 points. The match-up was a moment of renewed opportunity for Kolbaba who earned a re-ride after he was bucked off by his initial draw Sam I Am (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) in 2.1 seconds.
The Washingtonian concluded the first night of the Cornhusker State event $1,654.64 richer, having netted a more critical nine world points.
Still No. 12 in the world, Kolbaba inched closer to cracking into the world’s Top 10, a threshold he now trails by a slim nine world points. He will face King Richard (Hart/Ogden/Davis/Samford) in the second round of the PBR Wrangler Invitational, presented by Cooper Davis.
Two-Time PBR World Champion Mauney (Statesville, North Carolina) took one step closer to history in Round 1 of the event, delivering the fourth best score as he covered Audacious (D&H Cattle Co./444 Bucking Bulls) for 87.25 points.
The richest athlete in western sports, with more than $7.3 million in career earnings, collected $975.52 along with eight world points for his most recent 8-second effort.
More importantly, Mauney is now on the verge of making further league history, poised to take sole ownership of the all-time record for career wins on the PBR’s premier series. After riding to the event victory at the 2019 elite tour stop in North Little Rock, Arkansas, the now Texas resident tied with fellow two-time PBR World Champion McBride (Elk City, Oklahoma) for the accolade, with 32 wins on the elite Unleash The Beast.
Competing via injury exemptions, after being sidelined for the entire first half of the 2020 season with a shoulder injury, Mauney gained ground in the world standings. He began the event No. 55 in the world and climbed to No. 51, now within 36.5 world points outside of the Top 35.
“Whether you’re sitting first or are last in the standings, when they back you into a corner, you gotta come out swinging. That’s what separates the men from the boys,” Mauney said. “I’ve been getting on a lot of bulls lately, and I’m back to having fun.”
Mauney will next attempt Red Dawn (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) in Round 2 as he looks to take his next step towards securing both his 15th consecutive qualification to the PBR World Finals, and record-breaking 33rd career victory on the premier series.
The out will mark the third time in his career Mauney has faced Red Dawn.
After riding the bull for 90.25 points during Round 4 of the 2016 PBR World Finals, Red Dawn has bested Mauney in their two subsequent meetings. After being bucked off by the bull in 3.53 seconds during Round 1 of the 2019 premier series event in Anaheim, California, Red Dawn again beat Mauney during the championship round of the most recent Unleash The Beast event in Des Moines, Iowa, sending the North Carolina-native to the dirt in 4.64 seconds.
Rounding out the Top 5 in fifth was 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Springs, Utah).
He rode Live Fire (Frihauf Cattle Co.) for 86.5 points to earn a paycheck for $703.22 and seven world points.
Whitehorse maintained his world No. 26 rank ahead of his Round 2 matchup with Pat’s Dream (Long Ranch/Kruger Bucking Bulls).
Fans can relive Round 1 from PBR Unleash The Beast’s Wrangler Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires on demand on RidePass at 8:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, October 4. RidePass is available at RidePass.com or via the RidePass app available on iOS, Android and Roku.
The PBR premier series event in Lincoln will conclude with Round 2 and the championship round on Sunday, October 4. RidePass’ LIVE coverage of Round 2 will begin at 1:45 p.m. ET, while CBS Sports Networks’ coverage will be broadcast at 2:00 p.m. ET.
CLN Community & Event Sponsor