BILLINGS – Jess Lockwood has taken the PBR by storm.
As soon as the Volborg bull rider turned 18, he came out firing – third in his first Blue DEF Tour event last October. He really hit his stride in March, winning Blue DEF and Touring Pro events, before graduating to the big show in April.
His third Built Ford Tough Series stop was a win in front of his home state at the Stanley Tools Invite in Billings. And many wondered how an 18-year-old rookie could beat the best in the world? Well, this isn’t your typical rookie.
“Ever since I was little, I just kinda had my mind set on bull riding,” said Lockwood. “(My dad) would turn on the PBR when I was little and I guess I just took a liking to that.”
“Every night before he went to bed, he’d watch probably an hour of PBR before he turned the lights out,” agreed Jess’s dad Ed Lockwood.
“As soon as he could talk,” mom Angie added. “When he’d ride his dad, you know, get on his back and have his dad buck. And his favorite thing was ‘How many was I?’”
Lockwood was infatuated with bulls before he could count to the necessary eight seconds. He grew up on 10,000 acres of peaceful seclusion in between Miles City and Broadus.
“Growing up on the ranch, I mean you’re around livestock 24/7,” Lockwood said, sitting in the garage where he honed his craft. “It’s nothing new really – I know how cows move. I know how to work with cattle, and that’s a big help in bull riding.”
Jess’ most influential bull was a lifesize bucking machine his parents bought him in his early teenage years.
“That was his main interest all the time,” said Ed. “He never really took a lot of interests. I mean, he liked to wrestle, but he said he was wrestling to help his bull riding.”
Lockwood has come a long way from the state wrestling meet inside the Metra to one of biggest spectacles in some of the most famous arenas around the country. But he always manages to find his way back to where it all began.
“It’s nice when I get to come home for sure,” said the now 19 year old, who comes into this week’s PBR World Finals at the brand-new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas fifth in the World Standings.
“I’m still young – I get homesick for sure. When that happens, I buy a plane ticket and come on home for a little.”
Ed knows the feeling his oldest son is looking for.
“You know, just get back to being normal for a little while, when people aren’t wanting his autograph. He’s just a normal kid when he gets back here.”
Lockwood will likely be signing a lot more autographs as the PBR’s 2016 Rookie of the Year.