Saturday, July 20, 2024

Validation: JaCauy Hale completes meteoric rise, signs with Arizona Ridge Riders

Validation: JaCauy Hale completes meteoric rise, signs with Arizona Ridge Riders

WINDOW ROCK – The Arizona Ridge Riders will open the 2024 PBR Team Series with a Kickoff Season Party on June 29 at the Buckeye Equestrian & Events Center.

The meet and greet event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with a bull riding exhibition taking place at 8 p.m. Fans will have an opportunity to mingle with the current team members, which include Diné bull riders Keyshawn Whitehorse and JaCauy Hale.

Whitehorse, the 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year, signed with the Ridge Riders during the inaugural PBR Team Series in 2022 as a free agent.

Hale, meanwhile, was recently picked up during the 2024 PBR Camping Team Series Draft that was held May 29 in Nashville.

“I didn’t think I was gonna be picked at all,” Hale told the Navajo Times in a recent interview. “I was kind of surprised because there was that possibility that I would not have been picked.”

The Beshbetoh, Arizona, bull rider had reservations about attending the draft in person, but on a whim he decided to go.

“I’ve never been to Nashville, so I just talked myself into going,” Hale said. “I’m just happy that I got picked because it would have sucked to fly back if I didn’t get picked.”

Hale was selected as the 17th pick in the draft. That announcement served as validation as the 22-year-old rose to stardom this past year after competing in a few PBR Tour Pro Division events the previous two years.

In mid-March Hale covered two of four bulls and placed eighth at the PBR Unleash the Beast Ty Murray Invitational that jump-started his meteoric rise. Following that event, he was invited to Sioux Falls, Idaho, as he earned another eighth-place finish at that UTB event.

“Every time I go to a PBR event, I just can’t believe that I’m there,” Hale said. “I’m just fortunate and blessed. It’s always been a dream to compete in the PBR and I’m just living every moment of it.”

The Navajo bull rider capped the regular season with four more UTB events, including a chance to compete in the PBR World Finals that was held on May 18-19 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“It was pretty huge,” Hale said of competing at the world finals. “I really enjoyed myself but for the first two rounds I was having jitters. Some of the guys told me that I was doing fine for my first world finals.

“Making it to the AT&T Stadium was just a blessing,” he added. “I mean, that is the biggest arena I’ve ever rode in. We had to walk like two miles just to get to the locker room … And when they did the intros, we walked onto a big stage and then it hit me. I had a moment, you know, that I made it. I was just happy that I was one of the 25 guys to advance.”

Despite making the world finals, Hale was still unsure if he would get drafted. Needless to say, he was overcome with joy when he heard his name being called out as an Arizona Ridge Rider selectee.

“Honestly, I was just hoping to make any team,” Hale said. “If I was on any other team besides Arizona, I would still be happy. But signing with the Arizona team is the cherry on top.”

Since signing with the Ridge Riders, Hale has had some conversations with head coach Colby Yates, who is a five-time PBR World Finals qualifier.

“He was really excited that I signed with them,” Hale said. “He was kind of surprised with where I was drafted because he thought I would be taken in the first round, and not the second round.”

Hale is expected to report to the team later this month as the team is based in Glendale. He will be joined by PBR veterans Eduardo Aparecido, Dener Barbosa, Luciano de Castro, Chase Daugherty, Nick Tetz, Eli Vastbinder, Colten Fritzlan and Whitehorse.

“Some of the guys have reached out to me on social media and they were like, ‘We’re happy to have you, and let’s get better,’” Hale said. “With the team deal, we’re there to help each other improve so that we can be the best bull riders that we can be.”

The team series starts on July 12-14 in Oklahoma City. Later this year Arizona will host its home series Oct. 4-6 at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale.

About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com

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