EVERETT — A type of gnawing desperation begins to set in at the end of a competitive season when postseason spots are on the line.
It was plain to see on Eduardo Aparecido’s relieved face on Thursday night in Everett, where the Professional Bull Riders tour made a stop at Angel of the Winds Arena. The Brazilian cowboy took first place on the last ride of the night. The bull, Blood Moon, twisted and bucked, but could not get Aparecido off its back until the cowboy had secured an eight-second ride.
He received a 91.0 (out of 100), the best score of the evening and took home $46,403 for a hard night’s work.
“I saw (Blood Moon) last week and I knew he was a bucker, where I’m going to get enough different points to win the event,” Aparecido said through a translator. “I’m feeling great, happy to win another event.”
Only about 800 bull riders worldwide hold PBR membership.
Aparecido is now ranked No. 7 and is assured a spot at the PBR World Finals next month in Fort Worth, Texas where he will compete for an oversized championship belt buckle and a $1 million prize.
In a PBR season with more than 200 events, only two are left to qualify for the final competition, long a Las Vegas mainstay. All the top cowboys are running the circuit right now to prepare for the finals. But while a gratifying ride at this point in the year is a sigh of relief for some, the path becomes more tedious for others. There is zero room for error on the bubble.
One of those guys still vying for a spot in the finals is Wyatt Rogers.
Injuries have piled up through the years — he actually got his professional card in 2018 — but this season will serve as his rookie year.
Getting hurt, as may seem obvious, is not uncommon in a sport where bad luck means a 1,200-pound animal stepping on you with a hoof it just brought crashing down from 6 feet in the air. Things happen.
“It’s a battle right now this late in the season, we’re all beat up with injuries,” Rogers said. “It’s just a push, got to get through it mentally more than physically right now.”
Like many on tour, he has been riding bulls a very long time. Unlike his peers, he is a 26-year-old rookie who spent seven years in college at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He spent a good chunk of his time there competing on the school’s rodeo team, finishing his final year of athletic eligibility as a grad student in 2021. He graduated with a degree in sports administration and got his professional card not soon after.
Rogers is from Hulbert, Oklahoma, population 483. He’s running 38th in the standings this year and needs a good push over these last few weeks to make the finals. Throughout the season, those with a PBR membership card complete for points, and at the end, the top 35 advance to the finals, which begin on May 12.
Rogers’ second attempt Thursday night did not go as well as his first, but he still placed No. 9 — in the top 10 at an event for the second time this year. He finished Thursday by moving up several spots in the rankings.
“It was good, right now every ride counts so it’s important for me, especially being on the bubble,” Rogers said. “I gotta make this late push to get to the World Finals, especially being my first one, it means a lot because I’ve worked so hard to get here.”
Any sort of positive result for those on the bubble at this point in the year is welcome. The frustration mounted for some bull riders on Thursday night. Emotions ran high for cowboys who saw their chances to reach the final 35 dwindle.
For the near-sellout crowd, it was an energetic show filled with the drama. Flint Rasmussen, longtime rodeo clown for the PBR, pulled out all sorts of tricks with his hat, giving the boisterous crowd a boost throughout the night. Rasmussen is in the midst of a farewell tour, his final season with the organization.
It was the second time the top of the professional bull riding world has visited Everett. Judging from the number of cowboy hats that flooded onto the street after the event, the sport is taking hold.
And maybe that means a few more bull-riding cowboys coming here with dreams of a championship down the road.
“This is what I wanted to do every day of my life,” Rogers said. ‘There’s no better feeling in the world.”
Jordan Hansen: 425-339-3046; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @jordyhansen.
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