(Editor's note: PBR media release)
ST. LOUIS – After finishing the last two seasons runner-up to the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) World Championship, Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas de Rio Pardo, Brazil) is starting to look unstoppable as the world’s best bull riders put on yet another thrilling show in the Enterprise Center as “American’s Original Extreme Sport” returned to St. Louis for the 23rd time in PBR history.
Leme won his league-leading third premier series event in going a dominant 3-for-3 to win the U.S. Border Patrol Invitational and further extend his lead atop the world rankings.
On the opening night of competition, Leme leap-frogged countryman Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil) for the No. 1 ranking after covering his draw in both the 15/15 Bucking Battle, an 89.75-point ride on Jive Turkey (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/MAGA Cattle/Roper Angus), and Round 1, an 84.75-point trip aboard Air Tight Alibi (L&E Bull Co./FT Bulls).
As a result, Leme entered the final night of competition for the seventh Unleash The Beast event of the year third in the event aggregate, with a 26.25-point lead atop the rankings.
Once inside the Enterprise Center on Sunday afternoon, Leme’s momentum only continued to roll.
The 23-year-old former semi-pro soccer player recorded the top marks of Round 2 in covering Inferno (K-C Bucking Bulls/Spark-lin Acres) for 89 points. Leme’s league-leading seventh round win of the year propelled him to second in the event aggregate.
Leme, who is riding at a torrid 80% pace this season on the elite tour, then drafted Night Shift (L&E Bull Company/Crazy 8 Cattle/FT Bulls) in the championship round, a bovine athlete who had only been ridden once prior in nine outs on record across all levels of competition.
Undaunted by the bull’s record, Leme reached the 8-second whistle with ease, cementing the win with an 88.75-point score.
Leme earned a check for $39,632.86, in addition to 119 crucial world points. He now holds the largest lead atop the world rankings thus far in 2020, 115 points in front of new No. 2 Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana).
“I thank God for putting good bulls my way,” Leme said. “I just want to keep riding my bulls, keep strong and healthy. The No. 1 position [in the world] is the place everyone wants. I worked hard for this, and I’m grateful.”
As the only other rider to deliver a flawless 3-for-3 performance against the backdrop of the iconic Gateway Arch, Lucas Divino (Nova Crixas, Brazil) concluded the event second to collect $15,952.86 and 65 world points.
On Saturday night, Divino was one of seven riders to cover his opening round draw, riding Capone (T-Raybulls/Paradigm Bull Co.) for 82.25 points.
He then returned in Round 2 with a 59-point score on BootDaddy.com (Crescent City Bucking Bulls/Gene Owen), declining a re-ride in order to ensure a position in the championship round.
Divino’s decision then proved dividends, garnering him the pick of familiar foe Trail of Tears (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/MAGA Cattle/Roper Angus) for the championship round. The duo had previously met, combining for an 86.25-point score in 2019 during the elite tour’s August event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In St. Louis, the outcome was much the same, with Divino again reaching the 8-second mark, this time for an improved 88.5 points.
After beginning the event No. 78 in the world, Divino skyrocketed up the standings, now ranked No. 20.
Third was U.S. Border Patrol athlete Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York) who rebounded from a Round 1 buckoff to deliver back-to-back qualified rides on the final night of competition inside the Enterprise Center.
After posting an 85.5-point score aboard Peanut Butter Falcon (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Lacey Scott) in Round 2, the New York cowboy recorded his third 90-point ride on the Unleash The Beast this season, winning the championship round with a monstrous 90 points aboard Sosa’s Alley Cat (JD Nix/Sosa Buckers).
Swearingen’s efforts netted him $13,285, along with an ever important 59.5 world points. He is now ranked No. 4 in the world, 210.34 points behind No. 1 Leme, after entering the event No. 5.
Claudio Montanha Jr. (Pacaembu, Brazil) notched his third Top-5 finish on the Unleash The Beast this season, finishing fourth.
Going 2-for-3, the Brazilian sensation rode Constant Sorrow (Blake Sharp/Buckwild Bucking Stock) for 87 points in Round 1, and Stunt Man Ray (Kruger Bucking Bulls) for 87.75 points in Round 2.
His bid for his first event win of the year, however, came to an abrupt end when he was bucked off by Foghorn Leghorn (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/WSM Auctioneers) in a swift 2.67 seconds in the championship round.
Montanha left the event $11,032.86 richer, while also netting 46 world points and gaining ample ground in the world title rise, rising from No. 15 to No. 9, now within 431 points of the No. 1 position.
In fifth was two-time, and reigning, PBR World Champion Lockwood.
The Montana man began the event in dominating fashion, riding Ghost Rider (Phenom Genetics/Sankey Pro Rodeo) for 86.5 points in Round 1, and Soup in a Group (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Wilks Ranch) for 88.5 points in Round 2, to enter the championship round as the high-marked rider in the aggregate.
Lockwood, however, was then bested by his final bull, dispatched in 5.17 seconds by Bezerk (BMC Bucking Bulls/Jenkins Cattle Co.), preventing him from ascending to the top of the Can-Am Cage for the second time this season.
With a 2-for-3 showing, Lockwood earned $9.452.86 and 41 world points, rising from No. 3 to No. 2 in the standings.
In the bull pen, Air Support (Braun/Cooper) was the YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event, earned courtesy of his high-marked out in the 15/15 Bucking Battle Saturday night. The son of legendary bull Air Time bucked off Montanha in a quick 3.74 seconds to earn the event-best 46-point bull score.
Fans can relive all the action from the PBR Unleash The Beast’s U.S. Border Patrol Invitational on Monday, February 24 at 8:00 a.m. EST on RidePass, at RidePass.com or via the mobile app.
CBS Sports Network will broadcast all the action from Championship Sunday, with coverage of Round 2 and the championship round, on Sunday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The elite PBR Unleash the Beast will next travel to Kansas City, Missouri, and the Sprint Center for the Caterpillar Classic. The event will be on Saturday, February 29 at 6:45 p.m. CST, and Sunday, March 1 at 1:45 p.m. CST. Prior to the event, on Friday, February 28, the WCRA will host the Royal City Roundup, the first $1 million Major of the year. The WCRA event will get underway at 7:00 p.m. CST.
PBR Unleash The Beast
U.S. Border Patrol Invitational
Enterprise Center – St. Louis, Missouri
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)
1. Jose Vitor Leme, 84.75-89-88.75-262.50-119 Points.
2. Lucas Divino, 82.25-59-88.5-229.75-65 Points.
3. Daylon Swearingen, 0-85.5-90-175.50-59.5 Points.
4. Claudio Montanha Jr., 87-87.75-0-174.75-46 Points.
5. Jess Lockwood, 86.5-88.5-0-175.00-41 Points.
6. Brennon Eldred, 0-86.25-87-173.25-26 Points.
7. Ramon de Lima, 0-85.75-83.5-169.25-16 Points.
8. Taylor Toves, 0-83-87-170.00-14.5 Points.
9. Colten Jesse, 0-87.5-0-87.50-12 Points.
10. Mason Taylor, 0-86.25-0-86.25-8.5 Points.
11. Cole Melancon, 83.75-0-0-83.75-7.5 Points.
(tie). Marcus Mast, 83.75-0-0-83.75-7.5 Points.
13. Aaron Kleier, 81.5-0-0-81.50-5 Points.
14. Eduardo Aparecido, 0-85.5-0-85.50-4.5 Points.
15. Matt Triplett, 0-83.75-0-83.75-2 Points.
16. Dakota Louis, 0-81.5-0-81.50
João Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0.00
Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0.00
Fabiano Vieira, 0-0-0-0.00
Dener Barbosa, 0-0-0-0.00
Derek Kolbaba, 0-0-0-0.00
Bradley Brittain, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Campbell, 0-0-0-0.00
Joao Henrique Lucas, 0-0-0-0.00
Brady Sims, 0-0-0-0.00
Ezekiel Mitchell, 0-0-0-0.00
Jake Lockwood, 0-0-0-0.00
Brock Radford, 0-0-0-0.00
Joseph McConnel, 0-0-0-0.00
Cody Teel, 0-0-0-0.00
Silvano Alves, 0-0-0-0.00
Stetson Lawrence, 0-0-0-0.00
Alisson De Souza, 0-0-0-0.00
Rubens Barbosa, 0-0-0-0.00
Luciano De Castro, 0-0-0-0.00
Keyshawn Whitehorse, 0-0-0-0.00