And, early this season, despite some insiders wondering if the 30-year-old was a viable threat, the North Carolina native has reestablished himself as a favorite among the top PBR riders in the world standings.
Though he admits “this year has been kind of up and down for me,” Mauney has ridden like his old self the past six weeks beginning with a second place finish in Jacksonville, Florida.
That week, Mauney said, “I’ve been thinking about this bull riding way too much and this week I decided I was going back to having fun.
“It’s only 8 seconds.”
Only 8 seconds. Classic Mauney.
That was, perhaps, the first sign of the confidence and relative ease with which Mauney approached each event in March and April as opposed to pressing things and forgetting to enjoy himself in January and February.
As a result, he’s ridden four in a row and six of his last seven bulls. More importantly, Mauney has won the round three of the last six times he’s made the whistle.
Round wins and now an event win has pushed Mauney from outside the Top 10 – an unfamiliar position that led some to doubt his flare-for-the-dramatic – to well inside the Top 5.
For good measure, he took Bruiser with the first pick in the Championship Round draft in Billings, Montana. Questioned why he didn’t make it easier on himself, Mauney replied, “I’d rather be 94 than 88 any day.”
He was 94.25 points on the former World Champion Bull.
Over the years, he’s proven himself to be durable despite his wiry frame.
He’s always been a tough, old school rider, who’s ridden through injuries.
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray called Mauney a freak of nature, while fellow two-time World Champion Justin McBride said, “The mark of a good champion is they come back.”
And, yeah, Mauney is back in rare form.
As expected, Mauney simplified conversation, “Stay on. That’s the name of the game here—make the whistle every time. … Stay on. That’s all I need to do, do my job. The rest will take care of itself.”
This weekend, in Tacoma, he’ll have a chance to nod three times in the regular-season event and once in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, which will be broadcast on CBS.
He’s slated to match up with Spotted Demon in the nationally broadcast 15/15.
Though his focus is the long range outcome, once Mauney reaches the 500 milestone there’s not another rider even approaching the conversation anytime in the next three to four seasons.
Fellow Monster Energy teammate Guilherme Marchi became the first rider to reach 600 with his second ride of the weekend in Billings.
Monster Energy will have six riders competing in Tacoma.
In addition to Mauney, Chase Outlaw is ranked fifth and Derek Kolbaba is sixth in the world standings for a trio of Monster Energy riders among the Top 6.
Marchi is 20th, Gage Gay is 26th and Reese Cates is 33rd.