Odds makers in Las Vegas made reigning Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Champion JB Mauney the favorite to win the 2014 Last Cowboy Standing but it was a pack of Cinderellas who ruled on the opening night of the event May 9, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The top 50 bull riders in the PBR World standings were invited to compete in the PBR's unique event, where only those cowboys who make eight seconds aboard the PBR's best bulls advance to the next round. Awaiting the winner is a big $100,000 paycheck.
During the first round of competition, only four top ten riders--Joao Ricardo Vieira (3), Mike Lee (5), Cody Nance (6) and Marco Eguchi (10)--stayed on top of their bulls for the required eight seconds. Instead, it was cowboys from the bottom of the top 50 who filled out the top of the leader board.
Forty-ninth ranked Joseph McConnel won the round with 88 points aboard Smokin Okie from Moad Cattle Company. The nineteen year old cowboy qualified to Vegas after winning a PBR Touring Pro Division event in Stephenville last weekend. It is just his third appearance on the Built Ford Tough Series level, the top tier of PBR competition.
Only eleven cowboys made eight on Friday night; because the event guarantees at least 25 riders in round two on Saturday night, the remaining 14 positions will be filled from the current PBR World standings meaning Mauney, two-time World Champion--and winner of the last two Last Cowboy Standing events--Silvano Alves and Guilherme Marchi, a past World Champ and currently ranked second in the standings, all advance despite hitting the dirt early in round one.
No scores carry forward during the event; scores earn riders round money but don't matter in deciding the eventual champion. Round two begins May 10, 2014 at 6 p.m. Pacific time. The 25 qualifiers from Friday night each ride in another round. Every guy who makes the whistle in round two will advance to round three where the juiciest bulls in the world are waiting, including reigning PBR World Champion Bushwacker.
Competition will continue until only one cowboy makes a qualified ride, up to five rounds of competition. In 2013 every cowboy bucked off in round three, allowing Alves to cover Smackdown in round four for the win.
For guys like McConnel, a high finish here can boost them onto the PBR's top tier; only the top 30 riders are invited to compete each week. Though the PBR will take its summer hiatus following the Last Cowboy Standing, earning enough points here can put a guy on tour when the season resumes August 15-16 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In round two McConnel faces Air Time (Jared Allen's Pro Bull Team), the bull responsible for the high marked ride of the season. 2010 World Champion Renato Nunes rode the bull for 92.5 points at the event in Phoenix in March. Incidentally, Nunes won second on Friday night with 87.5 points on Prince Albert (Dakota Rodeo. Chad Berger, Dallas Schott, Clay Struve), a re-ride bull awarded to Nunes when his first bull failed to perform adequately. Unlike other events, cowboys must accept re-rides at the Last Cowboy Standing.
Austalian Lachlan Richardson was third (86.5), followed by Josh Faircloth (86.25), Jordan Hupp and Marco Eguchi (85.75), Markus Mariluch (85.5), Tanner Byrne (84.5), Joao Ricardo Vieira (84.25), Cody Nance (83.5), and Mike Lee (83.25).
With the exception on Nunes, who is ranked 19th, Byrne, who is 21st, and the four top ten cowboys, the rest of the field of qualified rides came from cowboys ranked 34th or lower.
Completing the field based upon their positions in the World standings are Marchi, Alves, Matt Triplett, Valdiron de Oliveira, Mauney, Eduardo Aparecido, LJ Jenkins, Kasey Hays, Emilio Resende, Gage Gay, Stormy Wing, Sean Willingham, Ryan Dirteater, Brady Sims and Ty Pozzobon.
The conclusion of the Last Cowboy Standing will air on CBS on Sunday, May 11 at 4 p.m. ET.