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August 11, 2022

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Points race tight as bull riders enter World Finals in Las Vegas


Justin M. Bowen

Bull riding at the final round of the 2008 PBR World Finals at the Thomas and Mack Center.

PBR World Finals 2008: Riding and Falling

Bull riding at the final round of the PBR World Finals at the Thomas and Mack Center Sunday.  Launch slideshow »

Riders and officials are optimistic that this year’s Professional Bull Riders World Finals, which kick off today at the Thomas & Mack Center, could be the best in the 15-year history of the event.

Most years, a clear favorite enters the World Finals with a major advantage in points. That’s not the case this year.

Twelve riders are still statistically alive for this year’s championship and three — Kody Lostroh, Guilherme Marchi and J.B. Mauney — are within 1,000 points of each other.

“It’s a good thing when the race is tight and a lot of people are in it,” Lostroh, the current leader, said. “It’s great for the fans to have all the storylines.”

The action begins 6 p.m. Friday and runs through Nov. 8, when the championship round will be held.

Lostroh said he was trying to not worry about the riders directly behind him in the standings, but it’s hard not to.

Marchi, the second place rider, is last year’s champion. If he can pull off another championship this year, he will become the first rider in PBR history to win back-to-back titles.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best bull rider going,” Lostroh said. “As far as consistency, he has a chance to win any time he wants to.”

The same could be said for J.B. Mauney, the rider currently in third place.

Mauney won PBR Rookie of the Year honors in 2006. In 2007, he finished in third place. Last year, he came in second.

“Hopefully, it’s a stepping stone,” Mauney said. “Hopefully, it’s a sign.”

Like Marchi, Mauney is also fighting to make history. Mauney, who is from Mooresville, N.C., could become the first rider from east of the Mississippi River to win the championship.

That is what Mauney has dreamed of from a young age. His father was in the rodeo, and Mauney rode his first sheep when he was 3 years old.

“I was born into it, basically,” Mauney said. “I was so young, I don’t really even remember.”

Mauney started riding bulls at age 13. From the first time a bull tossed Mauney off its back and onto the ground, he was hooked.

“When I hit the ground, it made me want to do it that much more,” Mauney said. “I craved it. That’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Lostroh has a similar story about his introduction to bull riding. Lostroh grew up in Longmont, Colo., and rode his first steer at age 7.

“It looked like a lot of fun to me,” Lostroh said. “I rolled off and I thought it was awesome.”

Lostroh and Mauney, however, are hoping to stay on the bull consistently this week. With the close competition, one ride could be the difference in winning a championship.

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