ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last year’s winner, Native American champ ready to ride
This coming weekend, the athletes competing in the Pit won’t be dunking basketballs.
They’ll be riding bulls.
The PBR’s Ty Murray Invitational returns to Albuquerque for the 17th year, beginning Friday night and ending Sunday afternoon.
The Built Ford Tough Series event will feature the top 35 bull riders in the world. They include Texico’s L.J. Jenkins; the top-ranked rider in the PBR, Shane Proctor; and the defending Ty Murray champion, J.B. Mauney.
The PBR also invited Native American bull rider Dakota Louis, the 2012 Indian National Finals Rodeo world champion. Louis’ only previous PBR event came in the 2011 Ty Murray event, so he knows what to expect.
“It’s going be an awesome weekend,” Louis said. “The best bull riders in the world are going to be there.”
The 26-year-old Mauney earned $39,150 by winning last year’s event and is looking forward to returning to University Arena.
“It’s always a good event,” Mauney said. “They get real good bulls there. It’s a family show, but they kind of conduct it like a rock concert. They’ve got music jamming and they have an entertainer there. It gets pretty loud, and it gets real fun in the Pit.”
The fun begins Friday at 8 p.m. and continues Saturday at 7:50 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Mauney, who started riding sheep at the age of 3 and rode his first bull when he was 13, knows a thing or two about good bulls.
“My daddy was in the rodeo,” Mauney said, “and ever since I was little bitty that’s all I’ve ever done. I started riding sheep and haven’t stopped yet.”
Mauney, currently ranked fourth in PBR, hasn’t stopped. In fact, despite some severe injuries, he’s barely been slowed.
In his time as a bull rider, Mauney has suffered a separated shoulder, a broken foot, a crushed hand, a concussion and a collapsed lung, which required surgery.
When he was 18, a bull’s back feet came crashing down on him, breaking all the ribs on his right side, bruising his spleen and lacerating his liver.
“I’ve lacerated my liver, broke my hand,” Mauney said. “In 2010, I collapsed a lung. About a month ago I fractured a small bone in my left leg, but I’ve been riding with that.
“I’ve been hurt before, but that was the worst I’d ever been hurt when I lacerated my liver. Everybody asked me if I was going to still do it and I said, ‘Oh yeah.’ I was going crazy sitting at home.”
While going crazy at home in 2005, Mauney managed to recover in just four months, then made an impressive PBR debut in 2006. Mauney, a native of Mooresville, N.C., won the Rookie of the Year award that season. At the 2009 World Finals, Mauney became the first rider ever to hit the eight-second mark on all eight bulls and has been one of the most popular riders ever since.
“It’s pretty cool,” Mauney said. “I always thought when I was younger that if somebody ever wanted my autograph, I’d have it made. I like it a lot when the little kids want to talk to you and they say they want to be just like you.”
Mauney is a star in the bull riding world, but he says even people with no previous knowledge of the sport will enjoy themselves and be fans of the PBR by the end of the weekend.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people that have said that they didn’t have nothing to do and saw that the PBR was there so they got tickets,” Mauney said. “Now they’re die-hard fans.”
Bulls will storm the PitLast year’s winner, Native American champ ready to ride<reefer_hed>Ty Murray InvitationalAt the Pitn Friday: Round 1, 8 p.m. (live streaming at pbr.com)n Saturday: Round 2, 7:50 p.m. (live on CBS Sports Network)n March 24: Round 3 and championship round, 2 p.m. (Taped broadcast airs at 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network)Tickets: Start at $15 and are available at unmtickets.com or at 1-877-664-8661 or 505-925-5858.
— This article appeared on page D10 of the Albuquerque Journal