The win moved Kolbaba from 11th in the world standings to sixth.
More importantly, for a rider who arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas, having ridden only one of his last 15 bulls, his 2-for-3 performance meant the world to the Walla Walla, Washington, native.
Kolbaba managed to impress everyone in the Championship Round.
He rode World Champion Bull contender Cochise for 89.5 points.
And afterward, Kolbaba was yet again understated in his assessment of the feat.
“Everybody knows how to ride bulls great,” Kolbaba said. “It’s all about that mindset.”
For him, despite Cochise being a bull most riders shy away from, it’s a bull Kolbaba is quite familiar with.
Like Kolbaba, Cochise was born and raised in the state of Washington and was just two-years-old the first time Kolbaba saw him compete. The two have previously matched up as amateurs.
“I knew coming into the short round Cochise would be a little lower down,” Kolbaba said, “and it would work out perfect for me.”
He later added, “All these bulls in the short round do everything outstanding and you have to do everything right to get them rode.”
And to hear J.W. Hart, a PBR Ring of Honor member and CBS Sports broadcaster, talk about the matchup, “It was an excellent bull ride.”
For a guy who had been struggling since winning the Oklahoma City event, Kolbaba stayed square and broke over nicely at the hips throughout both rides this weekend.
And he was certainly in perfect timing with Cochise.
“It was pretty special to ride him here,” Kolbaba said.
He added, “Not a lot of guys like to get on him. He’s big and strong. Like I said, he comes from back home and I knew what he was going to be like. I like to pick him.”
Kolbaba had slipped out of the Top 10 in recent weeks.
The win pushed him up five spots in the standings and really reminded the youngster he not only belongs among the elite the riders in the world, but that he’s a viable contender for a world title.
Monster Energy was well represented in Arkansas with four riders in the Championship Round.
Arkansas native Chase Outlaw was also 2-for-3 on the weekend and finished the event third in the average. J.B. Mauney and Guilherme Marchi were also in the final round.
Mauney’s second round ride – 84.5 points on The Don – moved him to within 12 qualified rides of becoming only the third rider in PBR history to make the whistle 500 times at the elite level of competition, while Marchi is now within seven qualified rides of becoming the first man to surpass the once-unthinkable milestone of 600.
A full cast of Monster Energy bull riders will join the rest of the Top 35 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this coming weekend before heading to the desert for an event in Glendale, Arizona.