By Doug Hare EBS STAFF
LAS VEGAS – On Nov. 10, Jess Lockwood was crowned the 2019 Professional Bull Riders World Champion, becoming the youngest two-time champion in the sport’s history. Over the five-day event in T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, Lockwood had a 5-for-6 showing, producing 4 qualified rides over 90 points, and winning him the World Finals event title as well. Lockwood became the youngest PBR World Champion ever when he won the title in 2017.
The 22-year-old made history with his come-from-behind victory, joining a short list of cowboys who have won the PBR World Championship multiple times in bull riding record books: Adriano Moraes (1994, 2001, 2006), Silvano Alves (2011) (2012) (2014), Chris Shivers (2000) (2003), Justin McBride (2005) (2007), and J.B. Mauney (2013) (2015).
For his efforts, Lockwood left Vegas with his second gold buckle and close to $1.4 million in prize money. Just four years into his career, Lockwood is the sixth all-time money earner in PBR history. Throughout the five-day event, Lockwood went toe-to-toe with Jose Vitor Leme, eventually overcoming the Brazilian’s 852 point lead heading into the World Finals. Lockwood missed nine PBR events this year while recovering from a broken collarbone.
The Volburg, Montana native wasn’t the only one to leave Vegas with hardware. Dalton Kasel, 20, captured Rookie of the Year honors finishing eighth in the world standings after a meteoric rise late in the season. After winning the Big Sky PBR in July, Kasel made his debut on the Unleash the Beast tour in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Aug. 10 as the No. 43-ranked bull rider in the world. Since then, Kasel went 14-for-35 (40 percent qualified rides) to finish the season ranked No. 8 in the world, edging out Alan de Souza as the most dominant first year pro in the PBR.
Chad Berger won Stock Contractor of the Year honors for an unprecedented ninth time, the sixth consecutive year that his deep bullpen has earned him that title. The Mandan, North Dakota native also saw Smooth Operator put up his career-best 47-point bull score on the last day of the event to become the 2019 PBR World Champion Bucking Bull. The nine-year-old bovine athlete took two victory laps after bucking off Chase Outlaw in 4.1 seconds on Sunday, seemingly aware that he had captured the title and accompanying $100,000 prize.
The veteran bull went 13-3 on the season, averaging 46 points per outing, also winning Bull of the Finals ($25,000) and regular-season top bull honors ($25,000). Smooth Operator is Berger’s first World Champion bull since Code Blue won in 2009, who he co-owned.
Another Montanan, Columbia Falls-based Matt Triplett closed his season out with five straight eight-second rides to finish second place in the World Finals, ending the year ranked No. 7 in the world.
The 2020 PBR Unleash the Beast season kicks off Jan. 3-5 at Madison Square Garden in New York.