PUEBLO, Colo. – Brandon Bates and the Oklahoma Freedom elected to stay calm amidst the PBR Trade Deadline frenzy last week that saw the Carolina Cowboys and Austin Gamblers add weaponry ahead of the 2022 PBR Team Series Championship in Las Vegas on Nov. 4-6.
The Freedom may not be the deepest or most explosive team in the league, but some how and some way Oklahoma continues to find ways to win, and they are now in control of its destiny.
Oklahoma defeated the Carolina Cowboys 176.25-91.75 on Sunday afternoon at Rattler Days to take over sole possession of first place in the league with a 15-10 record. The Freedom bounced back from a 258.25-0 loss to Texas on Friday night to defeat the Arizona Ridge Riders 351-90.75 on Saturday night and then Carolina on Sunday.
If the Freedom win all three of its games next weekend at the regular-season finale in Glendale, Arizona – Ridge Rider Days – then Oklahoma will have a first-round bye in Las Vegas. The top 2 teams in the regular season standings following Ridge Rider Days earn first-round byes.
Oklahoma is one game ahead of No. 2 Carolina (14-11) and 1.5 games ahead of No. 3 Arizona (13-11-1) thanks to their respective wins over the two teams at Dickies Arena this weekend.
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The Freedom may be tied with Nashville, Texas and Missouri for the league low in qualified rides in game competition (40), but they continue to rise up clutch in pressure situations to squeak out victories.
Oklahoma once again relied on its star Derek Kolbaba to keep them alive Sunday inside Dickies Arena. Kolbaba got the Freedom back in the game when he rode Safety Meeting for 89.25 points to make it a 91.75-89.25 ballgame.
That set up Trevor Reiste, who was called up from the practice squad this week after signing as a free agent on Sept. 13, to be the unexpected hero. Reiste rode Marciano, his re-ride bull, for a walk-off and game-winning ride of 87 points.
“I knew I had to follow up Derek’s bull ride and he got me fired up and this was a bull they said I should ride and I knew I should do it,” Reiste told Allen Bestwick on CBS Sports Network.
Kolbaba is 13-for-25 this season and is fourth in the MVP race, a mere 360.75 points behind MVP leader Jose Vitor Leme (Austin Gamblers).
The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider is finding ways to help his team win despite the fact that the Freedom have only ridden three bulls in one of its past 11 games.
“Those high-pressure situations seem to really make me thrive,” Kolbaba said. “I just love it. I am still in awe of what Trevor just did right there. That was great stuff. I don’t think there are words for how we all feel right now.”
The pressure will be at an all-time high next weekend at Gila River Arena with only three games separating No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Kansas City and only three games left in the regular season. Any of the Top 7 seven teams in the league could leave Arizona with a first-round bye.
The Freedom, who finished fourth overall at Rattler Days, will continue its pursuit of the No. 1 seed when they take on Arizona (13-11-1) on Friday night (10:45 p.m. ET).
Game Schedule for Night One in Glendale
No. 5 Texas (13-12, 40 Bonus Points) vs. No. 2 Carolina (14-11. 65 Bonus Points)
No. 7 Kansas City (12-13, 31.5 Bonus Points) vs. No. 8 Nashville (5-19-1, 28.5 Bonus Points)
No. 4 Austin (13-12, 57.5 Bonus Points) vs. No. 6 Missouri (12-13, 37 Bonus Points)
No. 1 Oklahoma (15-10, 36 Bonus Points) vs. No. 3 Arizona (13-11-1, 28.5 Bonus Points)
Article Courtesy of PBR
Photo By Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media