PUEBLO, Colo. – PBR Teams’ debuts come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they aren’t all necessarily created equally.
From Ednei Caminhas making his first appearance with the Texas Rattlers at age 47, to a slew of 18-year-olds in the Oklahoma Freedom’s Tate Pollmeier and Arizona Ridge Riders’ Vitor Losnake getting their first taste of Teams action last season, age is merely one of the many factors coaches must consider in creating their weekly lineups.
Now in its second season of 5-on-5 competition, fans of the PBR Camping World Team Series have witnessed a wide variety of talented riders enter the chutes for their respective teams for the first time.
But something felt different Tuesday night in Cheyenne, Wyoming, as several members of the Texas Rattlers were stepping up to the plate to take part in their first Team Series outs.
A good different.
After very much discovering a diamond in the rough during the league’s inaugural campaign in rising superstar Daniel Keeping, the only way Rattlers’ Head Coach Cody Lambert and team can figure out what kinds of talent they’re working with in year two is to see what they’ve got under the bright lights.
What brighter lights than making one’s PBR Teams debut at The Daddy of em’ All?
Having found some success this summer in a variety of Challenger Series and Touring Pro Division events, Rattlers Head Coach Cody Lambert knew that Dawson Gleaves and Creek Young had what it takes to compete on the world’s grandest bull riding stage. He just didn’t know how soon they’d contribute, or that they’d perform in such grand fashion.
“Dawson and Creek looked good. Dawson just rode a really rank bull. Creek rode a good one, did a good job on him and did what he’d hope he would and what we expect,” Lambert shared.
“We expect to get better and we expect them to make each other better. Not just Dawson and Creek, but all of the guys, and we’re going to keep trying.”
Witnessing his squad complete a convincing 347.5-87.5 win over the defending champion Nashville Stampede en route to becoming the first team this season to go 4-for-5, the PBR co-founder was pleased, for the most part.
“That was a good win. The goal was to go 5-for-5, but it was a good one. Winning the game was the main thing, but when we were setting the bulls and stuff, we felt like we had them matched up pretty well,” Lambert said.
“Daniel (Keeping) put up maximum effort all the way through. All the guys did, two days in a row. We were pretty close and pretty disappointed that we didn’t get it done Monday.”
While the team’s returning spark in Keeping kept his end of the deal, going 2-for-2 on the weekend, with conversions aboard Ninja Cowboy (85.25 points) and Wasted Days (84 points), a majority of the pack struggled, as the bovine competitors brought their best to the season kickoff.
Seeing just eight combined rides throughout the four-game slate (nine total, when counting Jose Vitor Leme’s event-clinching conversion in Extra Outs), Texas would eventually provide half of the evening’s qualified rides while racking up the highest aggregate score of the young season.
“The bulls were great, but they’re going to be like that everywhere we go,” Lambert concluded.
“We just have to keep bringing it ourselves.”
Equipped with the skills to bring the noise, rookie Dawson Gleaves got the nod Tuesday afternoon that he’d be participating in his first PBR Teams out a few hours before night two began.
Watching and cheering on his teammates the night before, albeit not in the starting lineup, it was still a bit of a learning experience for the fresh 21-year-old, who’d appeared in just 11 combined PBR-sanctioned events in his life (three Touring Pro Division appearances in 2020-21 before storming back onto the scene this past April with a fourth-place finish at the PBR Teams Combine Championship).
“I did (learn something on night one). Just to not put too much pressure on yourself. Take it jump for jump and just ride bulls like you know how and everything will work out. It’s a big show with lights and it can get to some guys, but if you just do what you know how to do, what you’ve grown up doing, it works out for us.”
Seemingly able to block out the bright lights in front of thousands of bull riding fans, likely the most he’s ever performed in front of, it was just another night on the dirt for the talented Amarillo, Texas, native, who was just trying to have fun with it all.
The loose approach would pay dividends to the first-year talent.
Helping to propel his team to its first win of the season, Gleaves bested JAG Metals Grand Theft for an eye-popping 90-point score during his first-ever attempt in the PBR Teams format.
Embracing the cheers of both the crowd and his teammates, it was a moment the 21-year-old won’t soon forget.
“It feels amazing. First PBR big show. I’ve been to some smaller PBRs, put up some good scores, but to come here to Cheyenne for the first Teams event and on my very first bull put up a 90, that’s a lot. That’s ridiculous,” an excited Gleaves shared after the ride.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I’ve been a kid, so to be able to get out here and live it, it means the world.”
Spoken like a versed veteran who’s done this a few times (even though he literally hasn’t), Gleaves is using his coach’s advice of keeping things simple throughout his first season with Texas.
After all, it’s not every day you get to learn from a living legend like Lambert.
“It’s been amazing. He makes bull riding so simple. He makes it easy, and that right there is what makes bull riding,” Gleaves detailed.
“When you let it be easy and just go out there and do your job, just focusing on finishing every jump and finishing through the whistle, that’s the key to bull riding right there.”
Returning to PBR dirt after spending the last few years in the PRCA world, he’s produced six Top 4 finishes (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 4th) during a variety of Challenger Series and Touring Pro Division events this summer.
With fellow youngster Creek Young posting an impressive 88-point ride atop 2 Words during his own debut, just his third-ever attempt at a PBR event, the Rattlers should have plenty of motivation to keep things spicy during the league’s first team-hosted event of the year, Outlaw Days (Aug. 3-5).
For Gleaves, it’s smooth sailing until his next opportunity to wow a crowd.
“Just keep your head down and keep working and building on top of this,” Gleaves said.
“Just take this and put it in your back pocket and keep rolling with it.”
The Texas Rattlers will now enjoy some down time ahead of Outlaws days, where they’ll prepare to battle the Oklahoma Freedom, Kansas City Outlaws and Arizona Ridge Riders inside T-Mobile Center.
Article Courtesy of PBR
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media