More than 15,000 pack Infinite Energy Arena for Professional Bull Riders' Duluth Invitational

By: Jon Gallo

Published: March 11, 2018

Claudio Montanha Jr. successfully rode Wham Bam and Buck John to earn his first tile of the year by winning the Professional Bull Riders’ Duluth Invitational at Infinite Arena on Sunday.

Montanha, a native of Ribeirao dos Indios, Brazil, wowed more than 15,000 fans by staying atop the two bulls for eight seconds apiece to score a two-day total of 252.25 points, earning him $37,085 and 500 points in the world standings that elevated from fourth to third place.

He finished ahead of Cody Teel of Kountze, Texas, who finished with 172 points, giving him 310 standings points that thrust eight spots - into fifth place - in the season-long race. Cody Nance of Paris, Tenn., finished third after taming Church Bells and Buck Naked, enabling him to rise from 14th in the standings to sixth.

Eduardo Aparecido of Gouvelandia, Brazil, placed fourth, followed by rookie Tye Chandler of Celina, Texas.

For the third time this year and the third week in a row, Bruiser was named the YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event with his tossing of Teel, which earned him a 45.75-point bull score.

Chandler claimed his first round one victory on the Unleash The Beast Tour – the sport’s top division - on Saturday when he stayed atop Gangster Boy for the required eight seconds to earn $3,580. But more importantly, the victory earned him 100 points in the world standings. He entered the night ranked 35th in the standings and was in danger of being relegated to the lower Real Time Pain Velocity Tour.

But the with the win, he ascended to 28th, putting him safe from the drop zone, considering only the 35th highest ranked riders compete on the Unleash the Beast Tour.

“That was really big,” Chandler said. “I knew it was coming. I told you God had a plan and I had to keep trusting it,” Chandler said. “I want to win. I know I can win. Maybe I just had to prove to myself that I can still ride up here. I was doing good in the practice pen. I just couldn’t put it together up here. I feel good. I feel like I am riding like myself again.”

Chandler beat out Aparecido, who successfully rode Pill Pusher for 86.50 points to finish second and earn $2,750. The showing also moved him into the top 10 in the world standings, as he now sits in ninth.

Jess Lockwood of Volborg, Mont., also had a successful first round, as the defending PBR World Champion rode Cyclone to a 86.25 score, a $2,000 check and 50 points in the world standings that moved him into 14th place in the season-long fight for a berth at the world final.

“Whenever you get that first one rode, it is just a relief,” Lockwood said. “You don’t wake up the next morning thinking, ‘Shoot, if I don’t get this one rode then my weekend is done.’ You wake up and you think, ‘I got one down and I am set for the championship round.’”

Week in and week out, riders compete for a slice of the more than $10 million in prize money, with all rides aimed at qualifying for the world’s richest bull riding event, the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, from Nov. 7-11. In a city where poker champions show off their victories with diamond and gold bracelets, the 40 top riders compete for a different accessory: a gold belt buckle — and the $1 million check that goes with it.

Marco Eguchi of Brazil and Teel finished fourth and fifth respectively. Eguchi rode Blue Stone, which earned him 30 points in the standings and $1,400, while Teel tamed $850 and 30 points in the standings.

“[Shattered Dreams] had me a little shuffling around a little more than I would want to on that bull,” Teel said. “He is a really good draw. He just had me humped up leaving there. I had a bad start. Nothing he did, just the way I left on my rear-end. It kind of just set the tone for the ride. I was a step behind the whole time. I got in there and he let off the throttle. I made it a little harder than I should have.”

However, the first round clearly belonged to the bulls, as just 12 of the 37 riders weren’t bucked off, as 25 riders, including Sean Willingham – the lone Georgian competing and who announced he was retiring at season’s end - finished the first round scoreless.