PUEBLO, Colo. – When Jesse Petri headed to Jacksonville, Florida, for the PBR Bad Boy Mowers Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, he was 3-for-10 in his premier series career.
He bucked off Mule Train in 2.86 seconds in the first round, and on the CBS Sports Network broadcast, J.W. Hart made his feelings known.
“This guy here, Jesse Petri, he’s got a lot of talent, but it’s just not showing right now at this level,” Petri recalls Hart saying.
That, Petri says, made him mad.
“For some reason, it just really pissed me off bad,” he said. “When people say stuff like that, it makes me fight harder, I guess you could say, and get more aggressive. So the next two days, I’m fixing to just go out there and show him what I’m made of.
“After that first bull I bucked off of, I was really ready to kick their ass because of what they said on TV.”
Petri went on to ride his two subsequent bulls in Jacksonville, winning Round 2 with 88.75 points on Hard Shot, and finished a career-best third overall.
At the following event, the PBR Las Vegas Invitational that concluded the first half of the Unleash The Beast schedule, Petri finished sixth overall, again winning Round 2 with 88 points on Marquis Metal Works Draggin Up.
“The round wins are nice, and it’s definitely what you want to try to get, that stepping stone to an event win,” Petri said. “But I think the event win’s going to come here pretty soon. Definitely this year. And I’m just looking forward to the rest of the season, really.”
After an injury-plagued career, Petri finally feels as though he’s in a good place. The 23-year-old spent the early years of his career focusing on qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo but, after a broken leg in 2018 and three surgeries on his free-arm elbow, decided to switch gears and focus on the PBR.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the PBR since I was a kid,” he said. “We grew up watching the PBR. People know the guys in the PRCA, but there are world champion bull riders in the PRCA that, if they walked past me, I wouldn’t know who they were. And every bull rider that was ever in the PBR, it seems like people know.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the PBR, and I’ve always wanted just to be really a World Champion in the PBR because to me, that’d be pretty successful for a guy to accomplish that and win a million bucks doing it.”
He competed on the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour early in the 2020 season before the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the rest of that schedule and picked up there again when the season began in 2021. In February, he earned his first Velocity win at the Collision at the Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, also earning himself a spot at his first premier series event in Glendale.
“It was pretty cool, but I want the wins on the UTBs,” Petri said. “So I wasn’t just jumping for joy at the win at the Velocity event. It was nice, and that’s what I needed. I told myself I needed to do that. That’s just what I needed to get where I want to be. I’d like to be known as one of the top riders in the PBR, and I think I can get there.”
Petri is now ranked No. 21 in the world standings, and he returns to the Velocity Tour this weekend for the PBR Tryon Chute Out in Tryon, North Carolina, while the premier series is on its summer break. He has drawn Dutch (2-1, UTB) for Round 1 on Friday night (8 p.m. ET on RidePass).
Other top riders slated to ride in North Carolina include No. 11 Junior Patrik Souza, No. 14 Keyshawn Whitehorse, No. 26 Cody Nance, No. 29 Ezekiel Mitchell, No. 32 Dalton Kasel, No. 35 Eli Vastbinder, and No. 40 Michael Lane.
“It’ll be fun, I think,” Petri said. “I wouldn’t mind just racking up those Velocity points, either, for the (Velocity Tour) Finals. That’s really all I care about. I would like to go there and win a bunch of money at the Finals right before the World Finals. That’s a pretty good little chunk of change right there, and some confidence before the PBR World Finals, I think.”
Petri is ranked No. 6 in the Velocity Tour standings and is No. 3 in the Rookie of the Year race. He trails No. 1 rookie Colten Fritzlan by 131.42 points. While his main focus is on getting into the Top 10 of the world standings before the World Finals and someday winning a world title, Rookie of the Year honors is a tantalizing prize he is not overlooking.
“It’d be big, because you only get one chance,” Petri said. “To be able to capitalize at a young age and go out there, set a goal and achieve it, for a young person, is pretty cool to me. You can always achieve goals when you’re older and have more experience, but I feel like the young guy that can go win Rookie of the Year is pretty talented mentally. There’s a lot of good guys in the race right now. Colten Fritzlan and (No. 2 rookie) Chase Dougherty, they’re two of my really good buddies, and they both ride phenomenal. So it’ll be a pretty good race, for sure.”
It may have been an even closer race so far had Petri not been injured on the second bull of his premier series career, suffering a lacerated liver and breaking a rib, and had to sit out for six weeks.
But he came back ready to fight and, after ending the first half of the season on a high note, is ready to tackle the rest of the year.
“I feel like I’m right where I need to be,” Petri said. “I feel like maybe it wasn’t for me to go and make the NFR and win the world in the PRCA or anything like that. I’m thinking it was meant to be in the PBR, and the path I took to get here is how it should’ve been. I may not have known that when I was younger and when it was all happening, I was breaking my leg and having surgeries. But really, I think it just took my body a little while to get mature and strong enough to handle it. Things happen, but I do feel like now my body is very strong and ready for it.
“I feel really good – pretty much the best that a guy could feel, confidence-wise and physically and mentally. I try to keep my body in shape, and everything on me feels good. My mind is where it needs to be, and I’m sitting good. I feel like it’s all going to fall into place.”
Article Courtesy of the PBR
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media