Derek Kolbaba rode on the backside of momentum and home state support to a second-place finish in Tacoma, Washington, this past weekend.
The Monster Energy cowboy from nearby Walla Walla won the opening round aboard Safety Meeting and then made the whistle on two more bulls — he was 85.25 points in Round 2 and 88.75 in the third round — giving him a chance at winning his first elite, televised PBR event of the 2022 season.
“I’ve said it for many years, bull riding is about momentum,” said Kolbaba, who in previous seasons had not made a qualified ride in Tacoma.
Naturally, the 25-year-old extolled, “It’s been such a fun weekend. The fans up here in the Northwest, I know they’re great. It’s where my roots run, and it’s been such a fun weekend so far.”
On Sunday, Kolbaba faced a tough match-up in the third long round when he faced Loose Lips.
Prior to their out, he said, “It’s the same game plan every time. You gotta take advantage of every bull you get on and there’s a few things in bull riding, that if you do right on all of them, you’re going to get the whistle and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
Loose Lips had been previously unridden and on this particular afternoon, he had a subpar outing. Kolbaba was given a re-ride opportunity on Nasty Wishes — “what an awesome bull” — and converted for 88.75 points and the second pick in the Championship Round bull draft.
“I knew what I had, and I knew I needed to make the most of the opportunity,” said Kolbaba afterward. “What an awesome feeling. That’s all the fun stuff right there. Like I said, the Northwest fans, they’re not like any other. We’re just having a whole lot of fun.”
Fellow Monster Energy rider, Marco Eguchi, had a less exciting time in the Pacific Northwest.
The Brazilian native was stepped on in the opening round and transported to a local hospital for what Dr. Tandy Freeman later described as an “abdominal contusion.” Eguchi was unable to finish the weekend and is considered week-to-week regarding his return to competition.
Fellow Brazilian rider and two-time reigning World Champion Jose Vitor Leme announced he will be back in the draw this coming week in Tulsa, Oklahoma after X-rays were negative regarding the potential for a broken or fractured jaw. Leme sat out both Washington events — Everett on Wednesday and Tacoma this past weekend — after suffering facial abrasions and a concussion in Sioux Falls, North Dakota.
As previously reported, two-time PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood (core) and fan-favorite Chase Outlaw (groin) remain out of competition. Like Eguchi, Boudreaux Campbell remains week-to-week with an injury to his riding hand.
Meanwhile, Kolbaba finished the Tacoma event by bucking off Safety Meeting — the same bull he had ridden Friday night to win the opening round — but, on Monday morning, he took to Instagram to share his thoughts: “Had a solid weekend in the home state to end up 2nd! Was sure great having all the support!”
Kolbaba, who is now ranked 12th in the PBR world standings with three regular-season events remaining, and Leme will be in Tulsa for a two-day event beginning Friday along with Cody Teel.