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Derek Kolbaba rides DAM Cattle Co's Whiskey Trip for 86.5 during the first round of the Little Rock Built Ford Tough series PBR in Des Moines, IA


Jun 212016

Guilherme Marchi has seen hundreds of young bull riders make their professional debut on the elite televised PBR tour, so when a former World Champion like Marchi makes it a point to talk about the promise of youngster everyone else listens.

And then they pay attention.   

That’s precisely the kind of consideration Derek Kolbaba has been receiving this year.

“My job is to ride bulls,”

“He’s a young bull rider and has a lot of talent to be a World Champion,” said Marchi, when talking about the youngest of his fellow Monster Energy teammates. “We need a guy like that to be on a team with us to help support us as a team.”


Kolbaba, 20, is currently ranked eighth in the world standings and tied with fellow rookie Cooper Davis.


The two young guns are not only fighting for the Rookie of the Year title – Kolbaba would be the third Monster Energy rider to claim honor joining J.B. Mauney (2006) and Reese Cates (2008) – but both are also viable contenders for this year’s world title.


Kolbaba is one of 13 riders within 1,000 points of Kaique Pacheco’s shaky lead.


“My job is to ride bulls,” Kolbaba said. “It’s the mentality of not worrying about what else is going on. It’s about the task at hand and that’s to get your bulls rode.”


While Pacheco is the No. 1 rider – at the moment – most observers are convinced it’s Mauney’s title to lose in the second half of the season.


Mauney is ranked second and has won two of the past three world titles.


When asked if he has the killer instinct to compete against such a heavily favored veteran like Mauney, who also happens to be the most-talked-about Monster Energy bull rider, Kolbaba confidently said, “Oh yeah. I feel like I am.”


“I’m here to ride the bull that’s underneath me,” Kolbaba said. “You can think about who you’re going up against, but, when it comes down to it, it’s between you and your bull.”


Prior to the summer break, Kolbaba won his first elite PBR event in Des Moines, Iowa, and had previously won the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Anaheim, California. He also has four other lower level event wins this season.


Kolbaba has finished in the Top 10 in seven of the 14 elite events he’s competed in and he’s gone 0-for-the-weekend only three times this season.


Though he has a 42 percent over riding average and 37 percent at the highest level of competition, the Walla Walla, Washington, native readily admits he’s focused on improving his consistency once he qualifies for the Championship Round.


“I’ve been in a few of them and you gotta ride,” said Kolbaba, talking with the maturity of a seasoned-veteran. “Sometimes you get there and you think, ‘This is great,’ but you gotta another one to get down. That’s what really separates the good from the great.


“The more I put myself in that position the better chance it’s going to happen.”


He’s recorded 13 round-wins at all levels of PBR competition in the past two years.


But right now he’s focused on elite event wins down the stretch and the gold buckle and, more importantly, the $1 million bonus that comes with it.


“I’ve known Derek for a couple years,” said fellow young gun and Monster Energy teammate Gage Gay, “and I knew he was going to be here. It was just a matter of time. The kid can really ride and he does it really correct.”


Cates agreed.


The Monster Energy teammate and former Rookie of the Year added, “One of the best things about being part of Team Monster is they make you feel like you’re part of the team. Monster provides so many cool opportunities to do such cool things that it’s an honor to be on Team Monster.”