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Lockwood wins PBR world title, beats Lee’s record

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, November 8, 2017
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Twenty-year-old Jess Lockwood of Volborg, Mont., became the youngest cowboy to clinch a world title on the Professional Bull Riders circuit and received a $1 million bonus as the 2017 World Finals concluded its five-day run Sunday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

In clinching the world’s most coveted bull riding title, Lockwood broke the age record set by Mike Lee of Decatur. Lee snared the gold buckle at age 21 in 2004.

In the PBR, the world champion receives $1 million in addition to the prize money he earns during the regular season and the PBR World Finals. Lockwood’s total 2017 earnings were $1,525,292.

Though Lockwood received a highly impressive $1 million bonus, he said money is temporary.

“The $1 million is icing on the cake,” Lockwood said. “This (world championship) buckle is what means the most. The money will go away, but the buckle will be with me forever.”

Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian, clinched the 2017 World Finals event (average/aggregate) title. He was the only rider who stayed on all six bulls during the Las Vegas championships. Leme, who also won the PBR’s Rookie of the Year title, earned $416,000 during the World Finals.

For the second consecutive year, SweetPro’s Bruiser (D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.) clinched the PBR’s 2017 World Champion Bull title.

Though Lockwood’s success this year has been a big hit with fans, his 2017 world title victory was anticlimactic. He won the World Finals’ first three rounds and then was bucked off his last three bulls. He received his last two zeros on Sunday.

Lockwood entered PBR World Finals ranked No. 4 in a close world title race with Derek Kolbaba, Eduardo Aparecido (of Decatur), Cooper Davis and Kaique Pacheco (also of Decatur). But the other four men had lackluster performances throughout the World Finals, which meant Lockwood didn’t have to ride exceptionally well after he took the lead in the world race on Thursday night when he won Round 2.

However, the world title is based on points earned throughout a 10-month regular season and the six round World Finals. Lockwood proved to be the best rider overall throughout 2017.

Lockwood won the PBR’s season opening show at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Three weeks later, he won the title in Sacramento.

He also won PBR Built Ford Tough Series tour stops in Tulsa and Austin on his way to earning a World Finals berth.

After competing in the World Finals, Lockwood finished the year with 4,862.5 points, and Kolbaba finished second with 4,415. Davis finished third with 4,283.33. Aparecido came in fourth with 4,199.16, and Pacheco wound up fifth with 3,972.5.

Lockwood said it took lots of determination to win the title.

“It took a lot of grit, just cowboying up each and every weekend,” Lockwood said. “You have to make the most out of every single bull.”

Throughout the past year, Lockwood has been mentored by former National Finals Rodeo bull riding and saddle bronc riding qualifier Cody Lambert of Bowie, who serves at the PBR’s livestock director. Lambert is among 20 cowboys who founded the PBR, which conducted its first title race in 1994.

“He’s a better bull rider at 20 years old than I think I’ve ever seen,” Lambert said. “He’s just a well-rounded young man in his faith, and he wants to do the right thing. He enjoys doing the right thing. He enjoys where he’s at right now. A lot of 20-year-old people do not know where they want to go. But he’s known for a long time where he wants to go.”

During the 2017 World Finals, the PBR awarded its world champion a $1 million bonus for the 15th consecutive year.

When the PBR awarded its world champion a $1 million for the first time in 2003, it was unheard of for a western riding sport to dish out that kind of money. Today, the seven-figure payoff is still head and shoulders above what other rodeo or bull riding associations are doing for a single event gold buckle winner.

Lambert said it was the right thing to do.

“We wanted to make an impact on the rest of their lives,” Lambert said. “Bull riders’ careers are very, very short. We wanted our bull riders, when they retired, to have something (financially significant) started.”

Chris Shivers was the first to receive the $1 million bonus when he clinched the world title in 2003.

Silvano Alves, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, has collected the $1 million a record three times. He clinched world titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Two other cowboys have won the $1 million twice. They are Justin McBride (2005 and 2007) an J.B. Mauney (2013 and 2015).

Decatur area cowboy Mike Lee earned a $1 million bonus when he snared the title in 2004.

After winning the PBR world title in 2004, Lee said the PBR paid him the $1 million over a 10-year period.

“It’s pretty cool to know that you have money coming in every year,” Lee said. “That’s a dream for us as bull riders.”

ROPING FIESTA WINNERS

Every year, the Cinch Roping Fiesta in San Angelo features the sport’s elite and pays them well for their fast times.

At the 64th annual competition on Oct. 26, Caleb Smidt, the 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tie-down roping world champion from Bellville, pocketed $31,300 as the result of finishing in the money in the Match Roping and Invitational Tie-down Roping title races.

Smidt earned a $20,000 check for clinching the coveted Match Roping title. He edged 2005 world all-around champion Ryan Jarrett, 172.49 seconds to 204.70 seconds, after both men had made 12 runs.

Smidt also lassoed an $11,300 check after finishing second in the Invitational Tie-down Roping title race.

Smidt is scheduled to compete in the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in tie-down roping. He has earned four trips to the Las Vegas championships (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017).

Two-time National Finals qualifier Reese Riemer of Stinnett clinched the Invitational Tie-Down Roping title and earned $16,000. Riemer finished fourth in the second round, second in the third round and second in the final (short) round on his way to clinching the average/aggregate title.

J.P. Wickett of Sallisaw, Okla., finished No. 1 in the Invitational Steer Roping title race on Oct. 29 and pocketed $9,600. Wickett has earned 16 trips to the National Finals Steer Roping.

NFSR SCHEDULED

John Bland of Turkey has qualified for PRCA’s National Finals Steer Roping, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11, in Mulvane, Kan.

Bland has a strong rodeo family heritage. His father, whose first name is also John, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in bull riding in 1976 and 1977. His uncle Steve qualified for the NFR in tie-down roping in 1980, and his uncle Rex qualified for the NFR in steer wrestling in 1971-73.

According to prorodeo.com, John, Rex and Steve Bland are the only three-brother set to qualify for the NFR in three different events.

This year, the younger John Bland will enter the 2017 National Finals Steer Roping ranked No. 10 in the world title race after earning $48,184 during the regular season.

Tuf Cooper, a former Decatur resident who lives in Weatherford, also qualified. He’s ranked No. 13 with $44,217.

Twenty-three time world champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur has earned a NFSR back number. He’s ranked No. 5 with $64,266.

Jason Evans of Glen Rose is ranked No. 1 with $84,156. Vin Fisher of Andrews is ranked No. 2 with $78,934 and Chet Herrin of Pawhuska, Okla., is No. 3 with $72,976.

CUTTING HORSE UPDATE

The 2017 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity is scheduled for Nov. 15-Dec. 10 at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth. The Futurity, the sport’s most prestigious show, is the first jewel of the sport’s Triple Crown Series.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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