J.W. Harris didn’t have to attempt the final ride of the Professional Bull Riders Caterpillar Classic. He had already locked up his first career PBR title.
Harris could have strolled out to the center of the Sprint Center floor, taken a bow and accepted the championship belt buckle.
He didn’t want to do that.
“I was riding more for personal satisfaction and more out there to prove a point than anything,” Harris said. “I can still ride the short-round bulls.”
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Indeed he can. Harris scored 88.5 points on “Crystal Can Do.” He was the only rider to score in all three rounds, and finished with 261.5 points.
The championship round features 15 of the toughest — or rankest, if you will — bulls the PBR has to offer.
Harris, the leader after two rounds, rode last in the championship round. No other rider matched his score, which is why his final ride was nothing more than a victory lap.
Harris decided to take a break from the PBR last week, and took a trip to San Antonio instead.
“I slipped off to a rodeo last weekend and got away from all the hubbub that goes with these deals and just went back to what I originally started riding bulls for,” Harris said. “That’s to relax, and that kind of lit a fire back underneath me. I think that was probably something I needed to do.”
Nathan Schaper entered the final round 15th. He finished second after a thrilling 89-point ride on Sweet Pro’s Long John and scored 172.25 points in the event.
The top 15 riders get to draft their final-round bulls based on their score after two rounds. Schaper knew he’d likely wind up with “Long John,” but he welcomed the challenge.
“I think about that bull a lot, because I think he fits me and I can ride him. I was just so happy it worked out and could finally get it done,” Schaper said.
“Long John” bucks higher and harder than many other bulls, which is why Schaper’s fellow riders passed on him.
“The way he bucks, up and down, high in the air and floating and dropping. It doesn’t compare to any other bull,” Schaper said. “He’s like a giant roller coaster.”
Reese Cates and Brazil’s Eduardo Aparecido were tied for third with 171.25 points.
Holt, Mo.-native Brady Sims finished 14th.