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PBR Monster Team Challenge
By Kacie Albert; photos by Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Team Challenge featured 48 of the world’s top professional bull riders split into 12 teams and two divisions, facing off until two teams remain to compete for the championship. The competition, closed to spectators, ran from June 5 – July 12, at South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and will culminate in a championship weekend at the Denny Sanford Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota July 10-12.
Each episode featured three “games” with 12 total rides in each game. The top three teams from each division will advance to the “playoffs,” facing off with wild card matchups on Friday (July 10), the semifinals on Saturday (July 11), and championship Sunday (July 12).
Challenge Day 1: New PBR Team Tournament Launches with a Dramatic Seesaw Battle at South Point Arena in Las Vegas
Team Cooper Tires (1-0) Defeats Team Can-Am (0-1) │ 336.25-87
Team Las Vegas (1-0) Defeats Team YETI (0-1) │ 88.25-0
Team Union Home Mortgage (1-0) Defeats Team Wrangler (0-1) │ 337-257.25
Challenge Day 2: Powerhouse Shutouts, Gritty Rides and High Adrenaline Action Headline Challenge Day 2
Team Can-Am (1-1) Defeats Team Wrangler (0-2) │ 347.25-0
Team Las Vegas (2-0) Defeats Team Union Home Mortgage (1-1) │ 257-85.25
Team Cooper Tires (2-0) Defeats Team YETI (0-2) │ 332-0
Challenge Day 3: Team Cooper Tires Builds Sizeable Lead with Third Consecutive Win to Conclude First Weekend of New PBR Team Challenge
Team Las Vegas (3-0) Defeats Team Wrangler (0-3) │ 175.75-0
Team YETI (1-2) Defeats Team Can-Am (1-2) │ 173-86.5
Team Cooper Tires (3-0) Defeats Team Union Home Mortgage (1-2) │ 175.75-88.5
Challenge Day 4: Unstoppable Team Cooper Tires and Resurgent Team Wrangler Headline Explosive Action from Challenge Day 4 of New PBR Team Challenge
Team Can-Am (2-2) Defeats Team Union Home Mortgage │ 173.25-0
Team Wrangler (1-3) Defeats Team YETI │ 259.5-254.25
Team Cooper Tires (4-0) Defeats Team Las Vegas │ 259.25-84.5
Challenge Day 5: Dramatic Finishes on Challenge Day 5 of PBR Team Challenge Architect Must-Win Game for Final Division A Championship Berth
Team Cooper Tires (5-0) Defeats Team Wrangler (1-4) │ 173-170.25
Team Las Vegas (4-1) Defeats Team Can-Am (2-3) │ 175.25-89.25
Team Union Home Mortgage (2-3) Defeats Team Team YETI (1-4) │ 88-87.5
Challenge Day 7:
Team Pendleton Whisky: 166.5 points
Team South Point: 158 points
Las Vegas, NV – Day one of competition for Division B of PBR’s Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, began with a narrow victory on the final ride of the game for Team Pendleton Whisky, edging Team South Point 166.5-158. Battling blow for blow with Team South Point and the return of its captain Cody Nance (Paris, Tennessee), Lucas Divino (Nova Crixas Goias, Brazil) came in clutch for Pendleton. Nance led the way for Team South Point in Round 1 with the team’s only qualified ride, an 86-point effort aboard Marquis Metal Works Draggin Up (Paradigm Bull Company/Marquis Metal Works), and Ty Wallace (Collbran, Colorado) took care of business aboard Quickfire (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) for 72 points. Wallace was given the opportunity for a re-ride, and he kept his score, a gamble that would cost his team. After Team Pendleton Whisky captain Marco Eguchi (Poa, Brazil) aggravated a pre-existing groin injury in Round 1, Amadeu Campos Silva (Atair, Brazil) stepped in off of the bench in Round 2 to best No Prisoners (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) for 81.25 points, the first ride of the night for Team Pendleton Whisky. On the last out of the night, in a must-ride situation, Divino covered his second-half opponent and 2019 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bucker Mortimer (Julio Moreno/Dallas Schott) for 85.25 points, giving his team the walk-off win in the first game of Division B competition of PBR’s new team tournament.
Challenge Day 5:
Las Vegas, NV – The opening game of Challenge Day 5 of the PBR Monster Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, featured the tournament’s juggernaut taking on a surging team seeking a move up the standings when undefeated divisional No. 1 Team Cooper Tires went head-to-head against a resilient No. 4 Team Wrangler. In what would be their most fiercely contested game thus far, Team Cooper Tires narrowly edged Team Wrangler 173-170.25 to log their fifth consecutive victory. While 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Springs, Utah) elevated Team Cooper Tires to an early lead courtesy of his 84.5-point ride aboard Squeeze Box (Hodges/Shuler), Team Wrangler quickly answered with a qualified ride of its own. Brennon Eldred (Sulphur) gritted to a closely reviewed 81.5-point score as he clung to the side of Livin Lucky (JD Nix Rodeo Co.) until the clock reached the requisite 8 seconds. Holding just a slim 3-point lead, Captain Jose Vitor Leme (RIbas do Rio Pardo, Brazil), the last man to erupt from the chutes for Team Cooper Tires, needed to post a score to keep his team’s pursuit of perfection alive, with their opponent still having two bulls to attempt. Leme, who had been bucked off in an uncharacteristic 1.79-seconds aboard his first draw Armed & Dangerous (Hart Cattle Company), rebounded by dominating Red Rocker (Bland Bucking Bulls) for an ever-important 88.5 points, giving Team Cooper Tires a 91.5-point lead. Team Wrangler Captain Colten Jesse (Konawa, Oklahoma) wasn’t able to convert aboard Crossfired (JD Nix Rodeo Co.), putting Roscoe Jarboe (New Plymouth, Idaho) in a must-ride situation. While Jarboe delivered a much needed score for his team aboard Sitting Bull (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Diamond Willow), his game-high 88.75-point marks weren’t enough to complete what would have been the upset of the tournament. Undefeated and the No. 1 seed of the division, Team Cooper Tires will face No. 2 Team Las Vegas on Sunday in their final divisional game of the tournament. The game is a rematch from Challenge Day 4 when Team Cooper Tires bested Team Las Vegas 259.25-84.5. Leme also solidified his position atop the Built Ford Tough MVP race via his 1-for-2 showing Saturday evening. He now leads No. 2 Jarboe by 346 points. Consequently, Team Wrangler, who slipped to No. 5 in Division A, is now eliminated from the race to advance to the championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota July 10-12. They will compete in their final game on Sunday when they square off against No. 6 Team YETI who they defeated Friday night on Challenge Day 4.
Team Cooper Tires: 173 points
Team Wrangler: 170.25 points
Las Vegas, NV – Following the fiercely contested slug match that began Challenge Day 5, Saturday night’s second game was decided by the final out, when Team Las Vegas outlasted a resilient Team Can-Am, 175.25-89.25, becoming the second team from Division A to earn a berth to the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge Championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota July 10-12. Eager to avenge their first defeat of the tournament suffered Friday night, Team Las Vegas was the first to strike, putting early points on the board inside the Pendleton Whiskey Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at South Point Arena via Chase Dougherty’s (Canby, Oregon) 86.5-point trip aboard Gambini (Dakota Rodeo/Julie Rosen/Clay Struve/Chad Berger). However, the celebration was short lived. Rafael dos Santos (Sebastianopolis, Brazil) responded by reaching the 8 aboard Big City (Plummer/Hart Cattle Co.) for a massive 89.25 points to give Team Can-Am, fresh off a win on Challenge Day 4, a critical 2.75-point lead. While the bull power dominated in the subsequent five outs, Team Las Vegas Captain Stetson Wright (Milford, Utah) put his team back in front when he covered All It Takes (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls/Miller Farms) for 86 points. Needing just an 86.25-point score to propel his team to victory, the game’s fate was left in the hands of a banged up Ezekiel Mitchell (Rockdale, Texas) who had been stepped on Friday night. A visibly pained Mitchell was bucked off in 1.8 seconds by Rising Sun (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls), dashing Team Can-Am’s hopes of victory. In the divisional standings, both Team Las Vegas and Team Can-Am retained their ranking, exiting the game No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Before heading for the Championship playoffs, Team Las Vegas will face No. 1 Team Cooper Tires in their final divisional game. Team Cooper Tires is the lone team to have beaten the Sin City contingent, outlasting them on Friday night. Team Can-Am will compete in their most crucial game of the tournament – a must-win face off against No. 4 Team Union Home Mortgage in the CBS Game of the Week on Sunday. Both teams have two wins through the first five games; the victor will punch their ticket to South Dakota, while the loser will return home.
Team Las Vegas: 175.25 points
Team Can-Am: 89.25 points
Las Vegas, NV – When Team Union Home Mortgage and Team YETI squared off in the final game of Challenge Day 5 for the PBR Monster Energy Tour, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, the stakes were higher than ever. While the showdown would still yield a winner and loser, it would more importantly determine which contingent would remain in the running for the final Division A berth to the championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota July 10-12. Completing the trifecta of narrowly decided games from Challenge Day 5, Team Union Home Mortgage recorded a perseverant 0.5-point victory against Team YETI to keep its championship hopes alive. Team Union Home Mortgage’s lone ride was recorded early in the night on the team’s second out of the game, when young gun Mason Taylor (Maypearl, Texas) delivered a dominant 88-point ride aboard Dynamite Cap (Hart Cattle Co./Randy Wood) to give the contingent an early lead. As the bull power proved dominant in the game, the fast score kept Team Union Home Mortgage in firm control of the lead for the subsequent eight outs. However, once Major Threat (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls) was loaded into the chutes, a potential come-from-behind upset began to brew. In a last-minute change, Team YETI alternate Jordan Spears (Redding, California) was slated to attempt the bovine athlete, activated in replacement of Cole Melancon (Paris, Texas) who had been sidelined after aggravating a pre-existing right knee injury that has plagued him the duration of the tournament. While Spears had yet to find success aboard his previous seven bulls, under pressure, the Californian delivered. Despite making the 8 aboard Major Threat, however, Spears’ 87.5-point marks fell just short of the points his team needed. Courtesy of the win, Team Union Home Mortgage rose from No. 5 to No. 4 in the divisional standings, and advanced to the CBS Game of the Week on Sunday when they will go head-to-head against No. 3 Team Can-Am for the final berth to South Dakota. Not only will Team Union Home Mortgage be eager to win for championship implications, but they will also be keen to avenge the 173.25-0 shutout suffered on Friday at the hands of Team Can-Am. In their final game, however, Team Union Home Mortgage will need to contend with the numerous injuries the roster suffered Saturday evening. In addition to Captain Silvano Alves (Pilar do Sul, Brazil) being sidelined after he aggravated a pre-existing left hip injury, yielding him questionable for Sunday, Luciano de Castro (Guzolandia, Brazil) was also in visible pain following both of his outs. While No. 6 Team YETI is no longer in contention for the championship, they will compete in their final game on Sunday morning when they face off against No. 5 Team Wrangler.
Team Union Home Mortgage: 88 points
Team YETI: 87.5 points
Challenge Day 6: Team Wrangler Concludes PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge on a Winning Note after Outlasting Team YETI on Challenge Day 6
Las Vegas, NV – On the final day of competition for Division A play in PBR’s new team tournament, No. 5 Team Wrangler prevailed 176.25-88.25 in a narrowly contested game against No. 6 Team YETI, backed by a monstrous 89-point score from Captain Colten Jesse (Konawa, Oklahoma). As the Challenge Day 6 game begun, Team Wrangler’s Roscoe Jarboe (New Plymouth, Idaho) was the first to strike, covering Jungle Can Do (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Diamond Willow) for 87.25 points. The lead, however, was short lived. In the very next out, Team YETI Captain Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington) delivered a crucial 88.25-point ride aboard Acting Crazy (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Staci Wilks/N Bar Ranch) to give his team a one-point lead. With each team having just three outs remaining, Jesse quickly restored Team Wrangler’s position atop the leaderboard, scoring a critical 89 points aboard Short Pop (Hart Cattle Co./Hale). The score gave Jesse’s team an 88-point lead, enough to cement the Team Wrangler victory, as neither team was able to convert aboard dominant bull power in the subsequent four outs. Despite their second victory, Team Wrangler will miss the playoffs for the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, concluding the tournament 2-4, ranked No. 4 in Division A. In the Built Ford Tough MVP race, Jarboe and Jesse were the roster’s Top 2 riders. Jarboe is currently second in the race amongst the individual riders, going 5-for-12 to trail No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) by 344.75 points. Jesse concluded Sunday fifth in the MVP standings, 432.5 points behind Leme. Team YETI, which will also miss the playoffs, left Las Vegas with a 1-5 record, finishing Division A ranked No. 6. Captain Kolbaba led the contingent, presently No. 4 in the MVP race, 432 points removed from the No. 1 position.
Team Wrangler: 176.25 points
Team YETI: 88.25 points
Dominant Team Cooper Tires Shuts out Team Las Vegas to Secure First Round Bye in PBR Team Challenge Playoffs
LAS VEGAS – No. 1 Team Cooper Tires concluded its perfect sweep of Division A competition of PBR’s new team competition on a dominant note, with a 259-0 shutout victory against the divisional No. 2 Team Las Vegas. Stetson Lawrence (Williston, North Dakota) was the first to strike for Team Cooper Tires inside the Pendleton Whisky Let ‘Er Buck Saloon at South Point Arena, covering Smokin’ Gun (Hodges/Shuler) for 86.25 points. Captain Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) then extended his contingent’s lead with an 86-point ride aboard Rocko (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls). As the riders then prepared to attempt their second bull of the game, Team Cooper Tires’ depth was on full display. With six-time, and reigning PRCA Bull Riding Champion Sage Kimzey (Strong City, Oklahoma) injured while attempting Drago (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls), 2018 PBR Rookie of the Year Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Springs, Utah) was activated to attempt Bring The Heat (Cooper/Scruggs/Scarborough). Undeterred by the short-order ask, Whitehorse reached the 8-second whistle for a game-high 86.75 points. In addition to concluding divisional action of the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, a perfect 6-0, Team Cooper Tires outscored their opponents 1535.25-430.25. The talent-packed roster also concluded Division A atop the standings for most bulls ridden (18) and riding percentage (50%). Undefeated Team Cooper Tires now advances to the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge Championship with a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the loss, Team Las Vegas finished divisional action No. 2 with a 4-2 record, suffering both of their losses at the hands of Team Cooper Tires. Team Las Vegas will also advance to the playoffs alongside Team Cooper Tires, with the trio of playoff-bound teams completed by No. 3 Team Can-Am. In the Built Ford Tough MVP race, Leme remains in firm control, going 9-for-12 to amass a 344.75-point lead over No. 2 Roscoe Jarboe (New Plymouth, Idaho). Team Las Vegas Captain Stetson Wright (Milford, Utah) leads his team in the individual race, ranked No. 6 and 517.75 points behind Leme. In the bullpen, the Sunday game between Team Cooper Tires and Team Las Vegas also featured the YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Weekend. In the out that sidelined Kimzey, Drago delivered a weekend-high 45.75-point bull score as he sent the Oklahoman to the ground in a swift 2.37 seconds.
Team Cooper Tires: 259 points
Team Las Vegas: 0 points
Young Gun Mauricio Moreira Propels Team Can-Am to Dramatic, 0.75-point, Come-from-Behind Victory against Team Union Home Mortgage to Earn Berth to PBR Team Challenge Playoffs
LAS VEGAS – A dramatic walk-off winning ride by young gun Mauricio Moieira (Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil) pushed Team Can-Am into the playoffs of PBR’s new team competition in the final game of Division A play on Sunday at South Point Arena in Las Vegas. With the final berth to the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge playoffs in Sioux Falls, South Dakota July 10-12 on the line, No. 3 Team Can-Am went head-to-head with No. 4 Team Union Home Mortgage in the CBS Game of the Week in a thrilling matchup decided by the final out. The high-pressure ride-or-go-home moment was architected after Team Union Home Mortgage surged to an 84.75-point lead over Team Can-Am ahead of the final bull. While Mason Taylor (Maypearl, Texas) was the first to strike for Team Union Home Mortgage, covering The Tickler (Dakota Rodeo-Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Ken Barnhard) for 86.5 points, Marcus Mast (Middlebury, Indiana) delivered the go-ahead score. Called upon to ride with just moments notice, activated in place of an injured Taylor, Mast converted aboard Bubba G (M Rafter E/High View Cattle) for a critical 86.5 points. After three consecutive buckoffs were logged, the fate of both teams rested in the hands of Luciano de Castro (Guzolandia, Brazil) and Moreira. If Castro rode, he would clinch the victory for Team Union Home Mortgage; failing to make the 8 would leave the door wide open for Moreira and a resilient Team Can-Am. Matched up with Monkey Doo (M Rafter E/High View Cattle), Castro came down in a swift 3 seconds, shifting all the pressure to Rookie of the Year contender Moreira, who had recorded his team’s only prior score, an 88-point trip on Diamond Willow (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Diamond Willow). The 20-year-old remained collected under pressure as he dominated Skitso (EVP Bucking Bulls), marked a crucial 85.5 points, enabling Team Can-Am to leap frog Team Union Home Mortgage on the leaderboard for a 173.5-172.75 victory. Concluding Division A as the No. 3-ranked team with a 3-3 record, Team Can-Am will advance to the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge playoffs alongside No. 1 Team Cooper Tires (6-0) and No. 2 Team Las Vegas (4-2). Compliments of his 2-for-2 showing on Sunday, Moreira now leads his team in the Built Ford Tough MVP race. Going 5-for-12, Moreira trails No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme (RIbas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) by 348.25 points. Team Union Home Mortgage’s time competing in the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge concluded with a No. 5 ranking in Division A after logging a 2-4 record. The team’s efforts were championed by Taylor who in going 3-for-9 concluded Challenge Day 6 tied for seventh in the Built Ford Tough MVP race, 519.5 points behind Leme.
Team Can-Am: 173.5 points
Team Union Home Mortgage: 172.75 points
Find more information about the PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge at: https://pbr.com/team-challenge/
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