Saturday, May 17, 2014
— by Dee Cued
There is something about the fresh air, an outdoor arena and a raucous crowd that takes me back to my roots. I grew up in a small town where the biggest events of the year include the local Lions Club Rodeo and the National Junior High Finals rodeo finals, both held during the summer in an outdoor arena on the outskirts of town.
That nostalgia and my penchant for being at live sporting events brought me to the PBR’s Touring Pro Division at the Pala Casino Spa and Resort for the second year in a row. (Not to mention that the tickets were less than half the price of a BFTS event at $48 for reserved seating/$28 general admission. Plus, I wouldn’t have to listen to TV commentator bias while watching the action…but I digress.)
The format for this event was a round of 35 riders with 10 advancing to the short go each day. Saturday’s competition included veteran riders such as Kody Lostroh and Sean Willingham as well as cowboys from places I would not have typically associated with producing bull riders including one from Guatemala (Mynor Morales) and another from East LA (Christian Galindo). I love the diversity in this sport! In fact, I think it’s still a bit of an untapped resource that has strong potential for growing the fan base worldwide.
Getting to discover up-and-coming bull riders is another aspect I love about TPD events. PBR fans have probably seen Stetson Lawrence and Brady Sims on TV, but how many people know much about Jay Miller (Liberty, SC) if not familiar with the Touring Pro? According to the PBR website, he’s sitting in the #2 spot in the TPD standings! I would love to learn more about these rising stars, but aside from the rankings, there isn’t much information on the site about them, unfortunately.
I was also more than happy to see two cowboys from my home state competing: Ryan McConnel (Bloomfield, NM) and Travis Briscoe (Edgewood, NM). It’s not often that I get the chance to cheer for professional athletes from NM, so I make it a point to cheer a little (lot) louder for them. No score for Ryan in the first round, but Travis put together an entertaining ride on his second out. The bull performed well and Travis made the necessary corrections when the bull switched directions. The judges, in their infinite wisdom (eyeroll), scored the ride an 85 – – lower than the crowd and I expected. A comparable ride by certain other riders could’ve easily received an 88. Regardless, it was really nice to see Ryan and Travis still on the circuit.
Final Results (Round 1-Round 2-Total Points-Earnings)
1. Stetson Lawrence, 86-90-176.0 points, $9,193.60
2. Jay Miller, 86.5-86-172.5 points, $7,397.97
3. Tyler Harr, 83-83-166 points, $3,663.07
4. Brady Sims, 76-83-159 points, $2,657.52
5. Sean Willingham, 88-0-88 points, $2,930.46
Now, I must make a bold statement here. Brinson James, entertainer of the TPD, gives Flint Rasmussen a run for his money. Not only is he funny but this guy can D-A-N-C-E! I can safely say that Brinson performed the best “Dougie”I’ve ever seen. If you’re an avid sports fan, you’ve seen plenty of athletes do the Dougie, especially after a big win (ok admit it, you’ve also watched model Kate Upton do the dance too…several times lol). Well, Brinson puts them all to shame. I would be totally okay with Brinson being Flint’s successor after he retires.
And yes, in case you’re wondering, the obligatory PBR songs – Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” – were played at this event with full crowd participation. Ha!
I will take an outdoor event over a dim-lit, indoor stadium any day. See you next year, Pala!