Getting on a bull is never an easy task, and getting on two in a single night is even tougher. Cowboys that competed at the National Western Stock Show PBR Touring Pro Division Finale, however, did just that.
Kody Lostroh, the 2009 PBR World Champion, was the only Colorado cowboy who made the finals, and he finished third out of the top 15. “I was pretty happy with how Stock Show went this year. It’s always nice when you win, but if you do your job and stay on, it’s a good day,” he said.
Lostroh put up an 83 point ride on his first bull, and 84.5 on his second. In the finals, he held on to produce an 87.5 point ride, which gave him 255 points total. After his ride he was in the lead, and the crowd in Denver was there to support him.
“Stock Show is really fun for me because it’s one of the few times I get to ride in my home state. The crowd is always really good at Denver. I’ve been around for awhile now, and I have a lot of support here,” Lostroh said.
Even though the event is not televised and is considered part of the minor league for PBR events, it still draws world champions, like Lostroh. “The level of competitors is really high here. It pays a lot of money, and that is why you see such great guys competing,” he explained.
Outside of riding bulls, Lostroh is involved with the industry in a different facet as well. He raising bucking bulls, and has been building his business over the last several year.
“The bucking bull thing is going really well. I’ve had some successful ones. In fact, there was a second place ride one night on a bull that I raised,” he said.
Lostroh now runs around 100 mother cows, and raises them until they are old enough to be put into production. “I raise them until they are ready to compete, either in a futurity as a 2-year-old, or in the bigger events as a 3- or 4-year-old,” he stated.
He believes the key is in having great cows. “I try to get the most proven cows that I can. The cows are a big part of the equation. Some of them you can breed to any bull out there and they will buck,” said Lostroh.
Competing full time and raising bulls at home keeps him busy. “There is a lot to do, but it’s a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to see what I can raise, and I can test myself against my own bulls. I can get on them and see what they can do. That is one perk of being a bull rider myself is that I can test my own bulls,” he said.
A total of 90 riders competed in the finale, which offered up a purse of $80,000 in prize money. Not only was a National Western champion crowned, but the year-end Touring Pro Division champion was also recognized.
Half of the riders competed on Jan. 14, and the other half on Jan. 15. The best rides advanced to the semi-final round, which was held on Jan. 16. Their two scores are added together, and the top 15 then competed in the finals, which were held directly after the semi-final round.
Renato Nunes, from Buritama, Sao Paulo, Brazil rode Phe Phe’s Secret for the high marked ride on the in the preliminary rounds. The ride was worth $3,197 and put him in the top position of qualifiers for the semi-finals. There was a four way tie for second that included the 2004 world champion Mike Lee from Decatur, Texas, and two-time reserve champion J.B. Mauney from Mooresville, N.C., and Brazilian Wagner Luciano and Joseph McConnel from Bloomfield, N.M. Each of these men had 86.5-point rides earning them $1,199. Mauney and McConnel rode on Tuesday. Lee and Luciano’s scores were from Monday night.
The winner of the event was Joseph McConnel from Bloomfield, N.M, who had the biggest win of his career at the Professional Bull Riders Touring Division Finale. McConnel was one of the most consistent bull riders at this year’s event with 86.5 point efforts in the first and semi-final rounds. He then came back in the finals and rode D&H Cattle Company’s bull Western Show for 89 points, the highest marked ride of the event. He had a total of 262 points earning the 18-year-old $23,656.
Just six months ago, he was dominating the ranks of high school rodeo earning three major championships shortly after graduating. He was the New Mexico High School Rodeo Champion bull rider which earned him a trip to the National High School Finals where he was again crowned champion. He topped his high school career off with another championship at the International Youth Finals Rodeo.
“I got off of my third bull and was just looking at the clock,” McConnel said. “When I saw that 8.00, I just about lost it. All of my bulls here were perfect. It’s a little unreal to win an event this big.” The money he won here is likely to move him up in the ranks of the PBR to the Built Ford Tough Series.
McConnell started his career like many of today’s top stars riding sheep, then calves and steers. He is now headed to Pueblo, Colo., for the next PBR event and is hoping to add to his earnings.
Finishing behind McConnel were three former world champions. In second was the 2004 world champion Mike Lee from Decatur, Texas. His total of 261 points earned him $16,464. Lostroh, who was the 2009 world champion, earned $8,871 for his 255 point effort. In fourth place was the 2008 world title winner, Guilherme Marchi from Brazil.
The PBR has been headquartered in Colorado since being founded 20 years ago as the dream of 20 bull riders, who believed that bull riding could be a standalone sport. The premier bull riding organization has been located in Pueblo since 2007.
The BFTS is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. BFTS telecasts are produced for the PBR under a multi-year agreement with David Neal Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company led by 34-time Emmy Award winner and Peabody Award winner David Neal, who serves as executive producer.
The PBR will celebrate 20 years of competition with the 2013 season. PBR broadcasts reach over half a billion households in 50 nations and territories around the world, and over 2.5 million fans attend PBR events each year. PBR has awarded more than $120 million in prize money over 20 years of competition, including a $1 million bonus to the PBR World Champion each year.
The 2013 BFTS season again opened with capacity crowds at Madison Square Garden in New York, and will make 26 stops in 18 states. The season will conclude at the Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas on Oct. 24-28, 2013. The PBR World Champion will receive the coveted Championship buckle, a $1 million bonus and a new pickup truck from Ford, which is also title sponsor of the BFTS. ❖