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Cody Jesus earning a spot among world’s best bull riders

Cody Jesus of Window Rock, Ariz., gets bucked off his bull in his first ride Friday at the PBR Ty Murray Invitational in the Pit. ROBERTO E. ROSALES

Cody Jesus had an inauspicious debut on the Professional Bull Riders tour.

An invitee to the Ty Murray Invitational in 2017 on the strength of the Indian National Finals Rodeo title, said he spent less than eight total seconds on his bulls then, hitting the dirt at Dreamstyle Arena — the Pit — on all three of his rides.

Jesus looked like most other invitees that had failed to perform on the PBR’s biggest stage. But, instead of heading back to his hometown of Window Rock, Ariz., with his dreams dashed, Jesus rewrote the traditional script.

To borrow part of a familiar phrase, Jesus “got back on the bull.”

Four months after his Ty Murray outing, Jesus won the Championship Bull Riding world finals. That led to a Velocity Tour invite near his hometown where he won with two 90-point rides That victory preceded another invite to Fairfax, Va., where he finished second.

When Jesus returned to the 2018 Ty Murray, again as an invitee, he was more than ready to make amends from the previous year.

He pulled off successful rides on Days 1 and 2, and wound up placing seventh. Fueled by the Ty Murray, Jesus kept the momentum going the rest of the 2018 season.

Now a seasoned 20-year-old, Jesus is 11th in the world standings and the current front-runner to win PBR rookie of the year.

“I thought the PBR was on my path,” Jesus said before Friday’s first round of the Ty Murray. “Never did I think it would come so fast. … I thought it would take a little longer to get on tour.”

It’s been nothing short of a whirlwind time for Jesus since his last Ty Murray appearance.

He has numerous top-10 finishes this year, and he earned a spot on the United States’ Native American team in the Global Cup, finishing sixth overall in February.

Two years ago, Jesus was an obligatory invitee to the Ty Murray. Now, he has earned his spot among the world’s best bull riders.

“Man, last year I was just an invite here with no sponsors, and really didn’t have a big name,” Jesus said. “And now … my hard work kind of paid off. I’m sitting here with sponsors, and it’s just a blessing to be here.”

GLOBAL CUP STIRS NATIONAL PRIDE: Team bull riding? Yes, indeed.

The PBR unveiled its version of a nation-versus-nation competition in 2017 at Edmonton, Alberta, and this February’s third iteration of the event cemented its status as a favorite among fans and professional bull riders.

At AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Team Brazil outlasted two teams from the United States – the Eagles and Wolves – to earn the top prize.

Unlike the every-man-for-himself weekly PBR format, teams from Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brazil and two from the United States are built with seven members that are selected based on their season-long performances.

Coaches for each country select the riders in each round, with each team building on an aggregate score with each successful individual ride.

Edgar Durazo, 27, of Moctezuma, Sonora, proudly wore the Mexican jersey for his team and is hopeful to earn a spot in the fourth annual Global Cup scheduled in February 2020 in Arlington.

“The (Global Cup) event is amazing,” Durazo said before Friday’s first round of the Ty Murray. “You’re competing as a team, you want everybody to do good, and everybody is cheering for you. It’s something I looked forward to.”

FRIDAY RESULTS: The best rides were saved for the end of the first day of the Ty Murray. Jess Lockwood of Volburg, Mont., became the first person to ride Legit, scoring 89.5 to snag the lead from Mason Taylor. Two rides later – and on the penultimate ride of the night – Chase Outlaw of Hamburg, Ark., matched Lockwood riding Stunt Man Ray to an 89.5. … Attendance for the opening night, according to officials, was just under 7,800. … Saturday’s second round of the Ty Murray begins at 6:45 p.m. with gates opening at 5:15 p.m.

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