By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Defending world champion J.B. Mauney barely qualified for the finals, but once there he turned in the highest-scoring of the night.
Cody Nance and Jory Markiss then showed that no matter how well you ride one bull, riding two is always better.
Nance rode both his bulls Saturday, winning the Professional Bull Riders “Buck’n Awesome Bull Extravaganza” with a combined score of 173 points at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester. Markiss also rode two bulls and finished second with 167.
The 10th rider out of 40 in the preliminaries, Nance stayed on bull Stir Crazy for the full eight seconds, scoring 84.5 points and heading into the finals as the top seed. Riding Wipe Out, a bull he said he’d never ridden before, Nance went last in the finals, scoring 88.5 points and overtaking Markiss to win the event.
“It’s more reacting to how he moves,” Nance said. “That’s why it’s called ‘bull riding’ and not ‘bull forcing.’
“A lot of the bulls that we get on, we’ve never been on before. It’s always new anyway. Whether we’ve been on them or not, they usually don’t knock out the same tracks every time.”
Markiss, meanwhile, got bucked off his first bull, Full Metal Jacket, and limped out of the arena. But when PBR veteran Matt Triplett scratched out of the competition, Markiss took Triplett’s spot and scored 81 points riding Blue Squirrel.
“There’s nothing like going at it being really angry, and knowing you should’ve rode that bull and you just made a mistake,” Markiss said.
“My second bull, he had a lot different style with his action and the way he bucked. My first bull was really up-and-down. He reared a lot, came up in the front end and kicked a lot.”
Markiss entered the finals as the fourth seed, then hung onto Tapout long enough to score 86 points for a total of 167. After jumping off his bull, a very happy Markiss hurled his hat almost halfway across the arena.
“I’ve been on that bull before,” Markiss said of Tapout. “I got on him in New York, Madison Square Garden, and he made pretty short work of me. So I was really excited when I found out I had that bull.”
Mauney went 24th in the preliminaries but came off King David after 6.43 seconds. With only six riders scoring in the preliminaries, Mauney had to wait through 16 riders to see if his 6.43 seconds would get him in.
“I always explain it like it’s dancing,” Mauney said. “They make a move, and you have to follow them. They’re going to do what they want to do. It doesn’t matter where you’re at on them.”
Mauney ended up as the 10th seed, with three riders hanging on longer but not scoring. The last rider to draw for his bull in the finals, Mauney had to ride Shepherd Hills Tested, hanging onto the violently bucking bull just long enough to score 90.5 points.
It was Mauney’s 54th time scoring 90 points or more at a PBR event.
“I’ve been on him before,” Mauney said of Shepherd Hills Tested.
“That bull, he’s so big and strong, you have to stay kind of out over the front end.”
None of the other qualifiers to the finals stayed on their bulls long enough to score. Thad Newell, a native of Haskell, came in fourth after scoring 83 points riding Redneck in the preliminaries.
Lane Lasley scored 82.5 points riding Head Liner in the preliminaries and took fifth. Robson Aragao, another rider to ride twice in the preliminaries, scored 79 points riding Roy Rogers and came in sixth.
Aragao got bucked off his finals bull, Flirting With Disaster, just 0.22 seconds shy of scoring. Trent Jacobson, who got bucked off his finals bull in 2.42 seconds, scored 70 points riding Bo’s Top Gun in the preliminaries and finished seventh.
Mike Collins, Scottie Knapp and Josh Faircloth all failed to ride a bull in the preliminaries, but they made the finals as the top three riders closest to eight seconds. Knapp got bucked off Bet on Black 0.34 seconds shy of scoring in the finals, but neither Collins nor Faircloth lasted more than four seconds.
The 30 riders who didn’t qualify for the finals averaged 4.1 seconds on their bulls. Markiss’ 6.2 seconds on Full Metal Jacket was the longest ride not to qualify, while Colton Morris’ 1.02 seconds on Muddy Cat was the shortest.
Event administrators estimated approximately 5,000 attended the sold-out event. They added that McAlester will definitely try to host more PBR events in the future.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.