PUEBLO, Colo. – Ryan Dirteater has already cashed in big time in his home state this season.
Dirteater will now look to do it for a second time when the stretch run to the PBR World Finals begins on Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Express Employment Professionals Classic, presented by Osage Casino and Hotel.
The Hulbert, Oklahoma, native won the Oklahoma City 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast event back in January and the local Okie now has his sights set on a second victory in the Sooner State.
“That would be pretty special,” Dirteater said. “To win Tulsa and Oklahoma City would be icing on the cake.”
Dirteater heads into the second half ranked 16th in the world standings, and he will also be competing in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.
“I try not to worry about the 15/15s,” Dirteater said. “I don’t worry about them. Them events – that is where I like to keep all of my focus. There are a lot of points. If I do my job, I can gain a lot of ground there.”
The 29-year-old is an injury replacement for No. 14 Keyshawn Whitehorse after the PBR’s leading Rookie of the Year contender withdrew from the event because of a riding hand injury.
Whitehorse explained on Monday that the injury first occurred on June 29 in Rocksprings, Texas, when he was attempting to ride Smooth Over (6.37 seconds) in the championship round.
“I don’t know exactly how it happened while riding,” Whitehorse said. “Thought it was a ligament issue for a while, but seems to be a deep muscle and tendon strain. It just makes it difficult to keep my hand close.”
Whitehorse added that he is going to physical therapy and considers himself week-to-week.
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Ryan Dirteater vs. Seven Dust (40-3, PBR UTB)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Cochise (39-7, PBR UTB)$
Dakota Buttar vs. Hedoo (10-4, PBR UTB)
Fabiano Vieira vs. Smooth Over (10-4, PBR UTB)
Cody Teel vs. M.A.G.A. (1-0, PBR UTB)
Dener Barbosa vs. Hydrastar Slinger Jr. (39-3, PBR UTB)
Cooper Davis vs. Old Fort Days (4-0, PBR UTB)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Hostage (1-0, PBR UTB)
Jess Lockwood vs. Canadian Mist (9-0, PBR UTB)*
Jose Vitor Leme vs. Heartbreak Kid (19-0, PBR UTB)
Luciano de Castro vs. Gangster’s Wildside (17-1, PBR UTB)
Cody Nance vs. Frequent Flyer (17-0, PBR UTB)*
Ramon de Lima vs. Wild Goose (10-3, PBR UTB)$
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Lester Gillis (30-4, PBR UTB)
Kaique Pacheco vs. Smooth Air (9-2, PBR UTB)
$Rider successfully has ridden the bull before
Dirteater will have his hands full against the rank Seven Dust Saturday night at the BOK Center.
“You just have to bear down,” Dirteater said. “He is so unpredictable. You just have to go for him. He is going to try his hardest. I have to too.”
Seven Dust is 40-3 on the premier series, including 8-1 this season.
The two athletes have never matched up before.
“There is no telling anymore which direction Seven Dust is going to turn,” stock contractor Gene Owen said. “If he is a jump or two out and goes left (into his hand), and he stays, as good as Ryan rides to the left, who knows. I won’t say he won’t have a chance to the right, but man that is pretty slim.”
Seven Dust has bucked off five consecutive riders on the premier series since Cody Teel conquered him for 88.5 points in St. Louis on Feb. 18.
Seven Dust was marked 46 points this summer in Decatur, Texas, at the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge when he bucked off Whitehorse in 3.5 seconds with $50,000 on the line for the rookie bull rider.
The veteran bull then bucked off Brian Remmer in 1.68 seconds for a 43-point score two weeks later in Vinita, Oklahoma.
“Seven Dust has outs where he is ugly when he bucks them off in a jump and a half,” Owen said. “If he bucks them off quick and he doesn’t get to turn, then he doesn’t look very good. He will have a nasty roll or a drop, but his record speaks for itself.”
Seven Dust hasn’t bucked in over a month and a half, and Owen said that the bull looks to be in great shape.
However, last year in Tulsa, Seven Dust was off a step following the summer break and Jess Lockwood rode him for 87.5 points.
Dirteater only competed in one event this summer, but it came with plenty of success. He rode Jungle House (86 points) and Bezerk (89.5 points) to win the Springdale, Arkansas, Touring Pro Division event on July 21.
“I’ve just been hanging out waiting for the second half to start,” Dirteater said. “I am ready.”
Some riders don’t enjoy competing in their home state as it comes with added pressure and attention, but Dirteater is the opposite.
“I like it,” Dirteater said. “I feed off of it. I love the close ones.”
Dirteater has yet to win the Tulsa event, which is only one hour from his hometown. Last year he finished runner-up to event winner Jess Lockwood.
Meanwhile, world leader Kaique Pacheco will try to extend his 301.67-point lead atop the world standings when he takes on Smooth Air (9-2, PBR UTB). Smooth Air went 3-0 this summer, including a 3.12-second buckoff of Chase Outlaw last month in Springdale, Arkansas.
Pacheco has won a PBR record three 15/15 Bucking Battles this season.
Lockwood has a rematch against Canadian Mist after failing to get out of the chutes with the bull in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lockwood wound up injuring his riding hand when Canadian Mist crushed him against the back wall of the bucking chutes.
No. 4 Cody Nance has a rematch against the undefeated Frequent Flyer, but Nance has been bucked off by the tough D&H Cattle Company bull twice in less than 4 seconds.
No. 15 Derek Kolbaba and No. 3 Ramon de Lima have rematches against bulls they have had success on.
Kolbaba is slated to square off against Cochise for the third time at all levels of competition. The 22-year-old would have rode Cochise this summer during Gene Owen’s $40,000 exhibition matchup in Vinita, Oklahoma, but he had slapped the bull leaving the chutes.
Last year, Kolbaba rode Cochise for 89.5 points to win the Bad Boy Mowdown in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was bucked off in 1.35 seconds at the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational in Billings, Montana.
Lima will face off with Wild Goose for the second time. The 27-year-old won Iron Cowboy in February with an 86-point ride on Wild Goose.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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