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Jose Vitor Leme Continues Dominant 2020 Season with Unleash The Beast Victory
By Kacie Albert
GUTHRIE, Okla. – As the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast’s Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat, came to a close Sunday evening, May 10, 2020 inside the Lazy E Arena, viewers around the globe witnessed further league history.
While the seemingly unstoppable Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) further tightened his hold on the world No. 1 ranking, three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves (Pilar do Sul, Brazil) claimed sole ownership of a league record, and Air Support (Braun/Cooper), the son of a legendary bull, took the lead in the intensifying YETI PBR World Champion Bull race.
For a league-leading fourth time this season, Leme won a premier series event as the only rider to go a perfect 3-for-3 at the PBR Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat.
In Round 1 on Saturday night, Leme was quick to strike, tying for the 10th-best score when he rode Perfecto (Cord McCoy/Bruce Wold) for 84.25 points.
On Championship Sunday, the Brazilian phenom continued to shine.
Reaching the requisite 8 aboard Sambuca (Hart Cattle Co./Hale) for 87.25 points, Leme skyrocketed up the event leaderboard, punching his ticket to the championship round tied for second overall.
With four of the world’s Top 5-ranked bovine athletes awaiting him in the draft, Leme had his sights focused on avenging a recent, and bitter, buckoff, architecting a rematch with world No. 9 I’m Legit Too (Bloyd Land & Cattle Co.).
Leme had first faced off against the Oklahoma-based bovine in Kansas City in late February at the WCRA (World Champions Rodeo Alliance) Royal City Roundup Major held in conjunction with the PBR’s elite tour. In contention for a $100,000 payday, Leme was bested in a swift, uncharacteristic 2.23 seconds. Later that weekend he would break three ribs, sidelining him for two events.
Inside Lazy E Arena, however, a different result unfolded.
Leme covered I’m Legit Too for a monstrous 90 points, leading the former semi-professional soccer player to punt his helmet across the arena in celebration.
“He bucked me off a few weeks ago. I waited for another opportunity to ride him, another chance, and today is the chance, and I get 90 points on him,” Leme said. “It’s amazing for me – another 90 for my career and another great ride.”
Leme has gone 8-for-8 in championship rounds this season; six of those clutch rides have scored 90 points or better.
For his flawless showing in the Sooner State, Leme earned $21,875, in addition to a crucial 110.5 world points.
Further tightening his grip on the world No. 1 ranking, Leme continued to outdistance injured No. 2 Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana), who he now leads by a season-best 235 points.
The win is just the latest success in what has been a dominant season by Leme, who is riding at a torrid, tour-leading 75.76%.
In addition to leading the PBR in event wins and riding percentage, Leme is also the top-performing rider in 90-point rides (six) and qualified rides (25). Lockwood has five 90-point rides and 18 qualified rides.
Leme is also now tied with Lockwood atop two additional categories, most round wins (eight) and most championship round wins (three).
On Sunday, PBR World Champion Alves also claimed sole ownership of a league record.
After tying Chris Shivers (Jonesville, Louisiana) for fifth-most qualified rides ever earned on the elite Unleash The Beast in Round 1 when he rode Red Dawn (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) for 78.75 points, Alves surpassed the two-time World Champion, who delivered 412 rides in his career, in Round 2 by covering Newsom (D&H Cattle Co./444 Bucking Bulls) for 84.25 points, his 413th ride on the Unleash The Beast.
PBR’s 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi (Tres Lagoas, Brazil) leads the league with 635 qualified rides, followed by two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney (Statesville, North Carolina) with 528, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee (Decatur, Texas) with 525, and Valdiron de Oliveira (Balcimo, Brazil) with 429.
Alves’s qualified ride came aboard a familiar foe who he had never before been able to conquer. Newsom had gotten the better of Alves in both their prior meetings in 2019 in Glendale, Arizona, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Alves was bucked off by American Gangster (Jane Clark/Gene Owen) in the final round and concluded the event tied for 10th, netting $1,000 and 10 world points. He remains No. 49 in the world, 20.16 points outside of the Top 35.
In a breakthrough performance, 2012 PRCA World Champion Cody Teel (College Station, Texas) converted in a must-ride situation, finishing second to earn $14,375 and an ever-important 68 world points.
Ranked No. 55 prior to the event and given a berth at the Lazy E Arena via his 2019 finish in the world standings, Teel needed to crack the Unleash The Beast threshold at the PBR Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat, or face being cut from the premier series.
Rising to the occasion, Teel’s runner-up effort allowed him to catapult from No. 55 to No. 24 in the world, now firmly within the Top 35.
While the Texan’s event began on a less-than-promising note, bested by Come on Over (TNT Bucking Bulls/Hart Cattle Co.) in 5.19 seconds in Round 1, Teel rebounded with a flawless showing on Championship Sunday.
Teel first covered Danny Boy (D&H Cattle Co./Gordon/OK Corralis) for 86.25 points in Round 2, before dominating Milk Man (TNT Bucking Bulls/Hart Cattle Co.) for 89.75 points in the final round.
As the final athlete in the championship round draft, Teel had Milk Man selected for him. The matchup was a familiar one to the cowboy.
Having met three times prior, Teel had reached the 8-second whistle in two of those showdowns, including their most recent meeting earlier this season in Oklahoma City when he recorded an 87.25-point score.
Third was reigning PBR Rookie of the Year Dalton Kasel (Muleshoe, Texas).
In just his third event of 2020 after undergoing groin surgery at the conclusion of the 2019 season, Kasel showed no sign of missing a step during his recovery.
The 21-year-old young gun recorded his first qualified ride of the year in Round 1 when he topped Milburn Special (Wade Sundell) for 85 points Saturday night.
On Championship Sunday, Kasel, the first man out of the chutes in Round 2, delivered an event-launching out that won’t soon be forgotten.
Attempting Soup in a Group (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Wilks Ranch), Kasel recorded the third-highest score of his young career, converting aboard the bovine athlete for a monstrous 90.75 points, overtaking the top spot in the event and earning the first pick in the championship round bull draft.
In a selection that proved his hunger to win, Kasel drafted three-time PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser (D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.).
His choice, however, was motivated by more than the want to win, but also the desire to avenge a heartbreaking buckoff from 2019, when the bovine athlete sent him to the dirt in an ever close 7.7 seconds, denying him the win at the fourth Major of the year in Nashville.
Unlike Leme’s reversal of fate, Kasel once again left the arena short of his goal. He missed the 8-second mark by mere milliseconds, dispatched by Bruiser in a heartbreaking 7.97 seconds.
Despite the imperfect end, Kasel left Lazy E Arena with a check for $10,250 and 59.5 world points. He gained 125 positions in the world standings and climbed from No. 169 to No. 44, now within 15.16 points of the Top 35.
After tying for the Round 1 win, Stetson Lawrence (Williston, North Dakota) concluded the PBR Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat, fourth, earning $7,875 and 35.5 world points.
Lawrence, who covered Rising Sun (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) for 87.75 points in the opening round, logged his second qualified ride of the event in Round 2 by conquering Sosa’s Alley Cat (JD Nix/Sosa Buckers) for the second consecutive time in four meetings. The North Dakotan was scored 83 points to advance to the championship round.
His ride streak ended in the final round, bested by Heartbreak Kid (D&H Cattle/Buck Cattle/Erwin Cattle) in 4.18 seconds.
Lawrence’s Top-5 finish allowed him to gain 10 positions in the world standings, rising from No. 37 to No. 27.
Rounding out the Top 5 in fifth was 2018 PBR World Finals event winner Marco Eguchi (Poa, Brazil).
Going 2-for-3, Eguchi rode Soup in a Group for 87 points in Round 1, and Crossfired (JD Nix Rodeo Co.) for 84.5 points in Round 2, before being bested by then-world No. 1 bovine Chiseled (Flinn/D&H Cattle Co.) in 4.32 seconds in the championship round.
The 30-year-old Brazilian veteran netted $4,250 along with 35 world points. He rose from No. 17 to No. 14 in the world.
Paralleling the feats of athleticism by the world’s best bull riders were equally inspiring outs from some of the world’s rankest bucking bulls.
After trailing Chiseled by a slim 0.06 points ahead of the event, Air Support earned his fourth consecutive YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event honor in the Sooner State to overtake the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career.
Son of the legendary bucker Air Time, Air Support topped the bull pen when he bested Mauricio Gula Moreira (Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil) in a swift 3.23 seconds to earn a massive 46-point bull score, his third of the year.
In the YETI PBR World Champion Bull race, Air Support now leads No. 2 Chiseled by 0.05 points. Chiseled also bucked at the event, marked 45.5 points in his trip with Eguchi.
While the remainder of the Top 5 remained unchanged, three-time PBR World Champion SweetPro’s Bruiser gained significant ground when he was scored 44.75 points for his trip with Kasel, catapulting from tied for No. 27 to tied for No. 13, within 1.37 points of Air Support.
Fans can relive all the action from PBR Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat, starting at 8:00 a.m. ET on Monday, May 11, on RidePass at RidePass.com or via the mobile app.
PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat
Lazy E Arena – Guthrie, Oklahoma
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Jose Vitor Leme, 84.25-87.25-90-261.50-110.5 Points.
2. Cody Teel, 0-86.25-89.75-176.00-68 Points.
3. Dalton Kasel, 85-90.75-0-175.75-59.5 Points.
4. Stetson Lawrence, 87.75-83-0-170.75-35.5 Points.
5. Marco Eguchi, 87-84.5-0-171.50-35 Points.
6. Joao Henrique Lucas, 85-85.5-0-170.50-22.5 Points.
7. Lucas Divino, 87.75-0-0-87.75-19 Points.
8. Jake Lockwood, 0-87.5-0-87.50-12 Points.
9. Marcus Mast, 84.25-83-0-167.25-11 Points.
10. Daylon Swearingen, 87.25-0-0-87.25-10 Points.
(tie). Silvano Alves, 78.75-84.25-0-163.00-10 Points
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