PUEBLO, Colo. – Dalton Kasel spent the past week watching the best bull riders compete at Last Cowboy Standing at Cheyenne Frontier Days before heading to Big Sky, Montana, two days later for this weekend’s Big Sky PBR Touring Pro Division Major event.
Given the chance to ride alongside some of the best, Kasel did not disappoint.
Kasel rode Deep Water for 90.5 points in the championship round on Saturday night to beat out world No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira for his second career PBR victory.
The 20-year-old bounced back from a 6.88-second buckoff against Element 79 in Round 1 on Thursday night by riding his final three bulls in the always gorgeous Big Sky country.
Kasel rode Tested Crazy for 89.5 points on Friday night before his 88-point ride aboard Keno in Round 3 on Saturday night had him heading into the championship round in third place behind Vieira and 10-time PBR World Finals qualifier Cody Nance.
Tested Crazy bucked off Nance in 2.3 seconds, while Vieira was unable to reach the 8-second mark on his re-ride, Diamond Willow (6.3 seconds).
“It was a really neat event!” Kasel said via text message. “The Lord has blessed me with people He has placed in my life. I am feeling really good and excited to see the path the Lord has for me in the future.”
Kasel is on the cusp of the Top 35 following his victory in Big Sky.
The Muleshoe, Texas, bull rider picked up a season-high 245 world points to go from No. 79 at the start of the event to No. 41.
The Howard College bull rider also earned a career-high $24,237.45 and a whole plethora of gifts and travel experiences with his victory. The gifts include a bronze, a YETI 110 Cooler, a custom piece of jewelry worth $1,100, a bottle of 1889 whiskey from Bozeman Spirits, a $10,000 trip via Boundary Expeditions on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Central Idaho, a trip to Turks and Caicos from Seven Stars Resorts. Kasel also was awarded a brand-new Gibson Guitar, which is annual tradition for the Big Sky event winner to receive.
Not bad, right?
“I am so excited,” Kasel told in-arena announcer Brandon Bates on RidePass. “I have been blessed with great parents that have pushed me and motivated me in this whole thing. I have been able to surround myself with people that know what is going on and helped me through. I want to thank Chad Berger a lot for pushing me this summer to be the best that I can be, and for Riley Sanford for setting me up with this opportunity.”
Kasel is 13-for-37 (35.14%) with six Top-3 finishes, including two victories, in 11 Touring Pro Division events in 2019.
Kasel, who rode 2018 PRCA Bull of the Year Spotted Demon for 93 points earlier this month in Santa Maria, California, had already accepted an invite by the PBR’s competition committee for the upcoming Express Ranch’s Classic, presented by Osage Casino, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Aug. 10-11, before his Big Sky victory.
However, Kasel may actually earn an alternate spot for Tulsa because of injuries and declined invites.
Kasel also plans on having Dr. Tandy Freeman evaluate his hip in Tulsa after PBR Sports Medicine Director Rich Blyn told him in Big Sky that he may have a right labrum tear.
“It feels OK,” Kasel said. “It is just a little sore. It’s been bothering me for a while, but this is the first time I’ve had them check it out.”
The young gun is next slated to compete at the Touring Pro Division event in Allen, Texas, next weekend, and trails No. 35 Danilo Carlos Sobrinho by 156.25 points.
Kasel and Dener Barbosa are the only riders that placed in the Top 10 in Big Sky that are not ranked inside the Top 35 of the world standings.
Also tentatively set to ride in Allen next weekend will be No. 2 Jose Vitor Leme, Vieira, No. 5 Cody Teel, No. 12 Claudio Montanha Jr., No. 13 Mason Taylor, No. 16 Daylon Swearingen, No. 17 Ezekiel Mitchell, No. 24 Marco Eguchi, No. 25 Taylor Toves, No. 32 Scottie Knapp and Sobrinho.
Vieira (3-for-4, 258 points, 100 world points) wound up finishing second to Kasel in Big Sky for 100 world points. The 35-year-old trails No. 1 Chase Outlaw, who missed the final day of competition because of a concussion, by 862.5 points.
Meanwhile, Dener Barbosa (3-for-4, 257, 55 world points) continued his pursuit of a Top 35 ranking with a season-best third-place finish. Barbosa is No. 117 in the world standings.
Barbosa was the only other rider besides Kasel to cover his bull in the championship round. The 25-year-old rode Pennywise for 87.5 points. Barbosa also reached 8 seconds on Smooth Sailing (83.5 points) in Round 1 and Check Mate (86 points) in Round 3.
The only blemish for Barbosa came when Viper took him down in 6.09 seconds. Viper was the high-marked bull in Big Sky with a 46.5-point bull score.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Cody Nance (3-for-4, 255, 25 world points) and Mason Taylor (2-for-4, 175 points, 50 world points).
The 25 world points is important for Nance as he tries to stay inside the Top 35 and qualify for an 11th consecutive World Finals. The No. 31-ranked bull rider sits 117.5 points ahead of the Unleash The Beast cutline.
Taylor moved to No. 2 in the Rookie of the Year race courtesy of his Big Sky performance. Taylor, ranked No. 13 in the world standings, bounced back from a 3.16-second buckoff against Yo Adrian! in Round 1 to ride Mack The Knife for 88 points and Blue Stone for 87 points. Speed Demon bucked Taylor off in 1.85 seconds in the championship round.
The 19-year-old will head into Allen only 128.34 points behind Rookie of the Year leader Lucas Divino.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko