Braving the fight

90-plus ride earns NC cowboy Ty Murray championship

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

ALBUQUERQUE, March 29, 2012

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T hey say the PBR is the toughest sport on dirt.

Well, not for JB Mauney because the Mooresville, N.C., cowboy captured the title at the Ty Murray Invitational on Sunday afternoon despite having an injured thumb on his riding hand.

"I've got a bummed up thumb," Mauney said.

Nonetheless, he stepped up his performance another notch, registering a 90.75-point ride on Pure Smoke in the Built Ford Tough championship round.

With that he finished the three-day event with a 351.50-point total on four rides. He was the only cowboy to cover all of his bulls, although he got bucked off in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.

When asked about his thumb, Mauney said he'll probably need surgery but for now he has sights set on winning a world championship.

"My hand stayed in my rope all weekend," he said. "It's still sore. I can feel it when I'm riding, but it stayed shut and it doesn't hurt near as bad when you make the whistle."

All that stood between Mauney and his third PBR victory this season was LJ Jenkins.

Before Sunday afternoon's championship round the standout cowboy from Texico, N.M., was a perfect 3-for-3 and all he needed was a 89-plus ride on his bull, RMEF Gunpowder & Lead.

But after sticking with his draw for the initial seven seconds, Jenkins lost touch with his bull and failed to make the eight-second ride.

"That was the bull I wanted to ride, but LJ picked him first," Mauney said of RMEF Gunpowder & Lead. "He's a type of bull that you can win on, but I went with the next best thing and I thought of Pure Smoke."

That choice paid dividends even though Mauney said he approaches every ride with the same mentality.

"I go at each bull the same way I do every one of them," he said. "I want to win and when I nod my head I am out there to win it. That's the way I go with every one of them and I take the fight to the bull."

PBR veteran Valdiron Oliveria finished second to Mauney with 265.50 points ahead of Jenkins who accumulated 261.75 points.

Rounding out the top five were Harve Stewart (261) and Justin Koon (254.50).

Other bull riders of interest included Shawn Best Jr. and Ryan Dirteater. Both cowboys are of Native American descent with Dirteater a regular on the Built Ford Tough tour.

The Cherokee Indian from Hulbert, Okla., is currently ranked No. 9 in the world. Unfortunately, his trip to Albuquerque was not a good one as he was bucked off all his draws.

The same thing happened to Best, but despite being shutout over the weekend, the Omak, Wash., cowboy made the most of his experience.

"It was a good even though I got bucked off," he said. "It helped me focus a little more on my goals, which is to make it on tour and be a permanent rider. I feel like if I can get more bulls under my belt I can compete at this level."

His best ride came in Friday night's performance as he rode Cooper Tires How We Roll to 5.50 seconds.

"I lost my rope on him with six seconds left," Best said. "I had a pretty good seat on him and for second there I thought I was going to make the whistle. But all of a sudden my hand popped out of my rope."

When asked to describe the difference between an open rodeo and the PBR, Best said the bulls are more athletic.

"They jump a little higher, kick a little harder and spin a little faster," he said. "You're constantly getting on bulls that you can be 85 or better on and being consistent at the level is what the PBR wants.

"That's what you have to work for and you know these bulls won't back down," he added. "You just have to come out and brave the fight."

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