Cody Teel is one of the top bull riders in the world, currently ranked fifth on the Professional Bull Riders’ Unleash the Beast Tour.
Teel, from Kountze, rides 44 percent of his bulls on tour, a stout number considering the breeding programs that have developed during the past two decades to make bulls bigger, faster and meaner.
Saturday at the Caveman Invitational PBR, Teel rode 100 percent of his bulls to give himself an early birthday present.
Sitting sixth after the long go, Teel was one of two riders to cover his bull during the short go to capture the Touring Pro Division event at the Ector County Coliseum.
The 2012 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s world champion bull rider, Teel scored 174 points on the night. Taylor Toves, also from Stephenville, was the only other rider to make two successful rides, finishing with 152 points.
“It was great to get a chance to come to this event,” said Teel, who turns 27 Sunday. “The UTB Tour is on break right now, so being able to ride bulls and stay sharp always helps.
“I knew about my first bull a little bit, but I didn’t know anything about the second one. I just knew that the stock contractor brings strong bulls and I was fortunate to ride him.”
Odessa’s Cody Jones, working his way back into the sport after more than four years away, finished in a tie for fifth place after his 85-point ride aboard Space Jam in the first round.
He was unseated in the short go by The Real Milloy, which has yet to be ridden successfully in 2019.
Jones is looking forward to using the strong effort in his hometown to springboard him to greater heights, starting next week at the tour’s next stop in Bismarck, N.D.
“I’m healthy and focused and blessed by God to be doing this,” said Jones, a 2008 Permian graduate. “I got my PRCA card when I was 19, but a few years later I was just not into the travel and decided to get out.
“But I fell back in love with the sport last year and decided that if I was going to get back into it, I was going to work toward competing at the top level of the PBR.”
The Touring Pro Division is a developmental series for the PBR, feeding cowboys up the racks to the Velocity Tour and then, ultimately, the UTP Tour. All the points gained at any tour add to a rider’s total as he tries to make the Top 35 for the season-ending finals in November in Las Vegas.
Another reason why Teel made the four-hour trip west.
“The points aren’t the same as on the big tour, but every points helps when you are trying to maintain a spot,” Teel said. “At the beginning of the year I was hovering around the 25-30 mark and that’s a tough place to be in.
“Fortunately I was able to win a couple events and have some other top finishes to move up. I’ll ride some more of these during the summer, but nothing helps you more than getting on bulls to keep you sharp.”
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