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Derek Kolbaba at Unleash the Beast PBR in Des Moines Iowa.

Kolbaba, Mauney Grab PBR Headlines From Leme, Lockwood

Oct 212020

In a year in which the PBR headlines have been dominated by a pair of top-ranked Monster Energy bull riders — Jose Vitor Leme and Jess Lockwood — the storylines for the past two events have been led by Derek Kolbaba and two-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney

Kolbaba won the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Des Moines, Iowa, and then followed up with a Top 10 finish in Lincoln, Nebraska, that moved him to 11th in the PBR world standings; while Mauney used a pair of back-to-back rides that gave him his first Top 5 finish of the 2020 season and catapulted him to 38th in the world.

After missing nine months following shoulder surgery, Mauney, who will turn 34 in January, is on the verge of qualifying for the World Finals a record 15th consecutive year.

“When you sit out just a little amount of time, you gotta work at it when you come back,” said Mauney, of his breakout weekend in Lincoln. “Being out nine months — the longest (stretch) in my career — I’ve had to work at it a lot harder than I have before.”


He said the key to his success was simply to “get on more bulls.”


Mauney was 87.25 points in the opening round on Audacious and then followed with 89 points on Red Dawn in Round 2 as he led a trio of Monster Energy riders in Lincoln. 


He finished fourth in the average, while Jose Vitor Leme was sixth and Kolbaba was seventh.


“One or two rides can fuel your fire into the next weekend,” said Kolbaba, who continued to ride with confidence in Des Moines and then again Lincoln. “When you get your shot, you take advantage of it.”


Kolbaba’s confidence peaked with his 92-point effort on Sky Habor a week earlier.


“Me and my dad always talk about, with those rank bulls you ain’t going to feel perfect with every jump,” Kolbaba said. “You just gotta keep fighting, get gritty, and get the job done.”


Being from the Pacific Northwest — Kolbaba was born and raised in Walla Walla, Washington — he grew up getting on bigger, stronger bulls than some of the faster, more athletic bulls that dominate the elite televised level of PBR competition. 


He got in time with the lumbering up and down motion of Sky Habor and made his best ride in weeks. 


“I knew I had a great bull coming and once he left the gate, I knew I was going to have to put my foot on the gas cause he wasn’t giving nothing up for free. I had to get that motor running and it worked out. Bull riding is all about confidence and right now my confidence is high.”


It was the second 15/15 win of his career and could not have come at a better time.


In fact, four years earlier, he won his first PBR event in the same arena.

There are three regular-season elite events remaining on the PBR schedule, including this weekend’s event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


The Top 35 riders in the world are still led by Leme, who has a commanding lead atop the world standings. Lockwood, a two-time World Champion will also be in Tulsa along with Kolbaba and Marco Eguchi, who is currently 23rd in the world standings. 


That should put no less than four Monster Energy riders in Texas for the World Finals, while Mauney is hoping to make it five as he looks to ride his way into the Top 35. 


Cannon Cravens, who has dealt with a series of injuries, is 60th in the world, while Chase Outlaw, who missed two significant portions of the 2020 season because of shoulder surgeries, will return to competition for the start of the 2021 season.