PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney would roll over in his bed as a kid and excitedly turn off his alarm clock and run to the living room.
Mauney was in elementary school at the time, and the aspiring bull rider was not allowed to stay up all night to watch the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo seeing as he was in the eastern time zone in North Carolina. Mauney, though, was allowed to set his alarm five minutes before the bull riding would start at the Thomas & Mack Center so he could then rush to turn the television on and watch some of his childhood heroes compete inside the prestigious yellow bucking chutes.
One small memory like that is just another reminder of how special a qualification for the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo later this year would be for Mauney. The future PBR Ring of Honor inductee, and one of the greatest bull riders of all time, has never competed at the NFR after focusing his career in the PBR since he turned pro in 2006.
“Growing up, yeah, I watched the PBR, but I also watched the NFR,” Mauney said Monday while making the drive to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. “I would have my alarm set and timed perfectly to where I could watch the bull riding, go to sleep and then head to school in the morning.”
Mauney has risen to No. 5 in the PRCA bull riding standings following an impressive summer run, and all signs are pointing to him qualifying for the NFR for the first time this coming December.
The 34-year-old is 27-for-52 (51.92%) with four 90-point rides and 10 go-round wins for $67,132 in earnings this season in the PRCA, per Prorodeo.com.
Mauney got a major boost in the standings following his victory last month at the Reno Rodeo, and he currently has over a $31,000 cushion on No. 16 Brady Portenier.
“I knew I just had to go back to having fun, and, hell, I started going to these and I started having fun again,” Mauney said. “Before I got to the PBR, I rodeoed and when I was in high school I did multiple events. I was always used to going to rodeos and it kind of changed and I went to the PBR. It has been fun to get back to go up there and watch the bareback riding, the bronc riding, the ropings and stuff, and get to ride bulls.”
In PBR, he’s inarguably one of the greatest and now pursuing one goal that’s eluded him in his career. It’s great to see Mauney riding at a high level again in attempting to write more sports history. We’re all rooting for him in his quest to win the NFR: https://t.co/kGi5PF0Njs pic.twitter.com/pPiLvhIR5i
— Sean Gleason (@pbrceo) July 13, 2021
Mauney made it a goal this year to finally pursue the NFR with every ounce of effort possible following 15 consecutive trips to the PBR World Finals, and in the last month alone he has put roughly 8,000-plus miles on his new RV, and he has only three scheduled days off planned for August.
“There is one thing I haven’t accomplished in my career and that is to make the NFR,” Mauney reiterated this week.
Mauney does not want to “count his chickens before they hatch,” but he is very well in position to make history at the NFR and join Tuff Hedeman in the record books.
Hedeman is the only bull rider in history to have won a PRCA and PBR World Championship since the PBR’s inaugural 1994 season. Hedeman won the 1995 PBR world title after claiming three PRCA bull riding championships (1986, 1989, 1991).
“I haven’t thought about it,” Mauney said of the possibility of making history in Las Vegas. “I am just riding bulls, but that does sound good.”
Mauney does know he can make up the $58,168.32 between himself and current PRCA No. 1 Sage Kimzey at the NFR.
So even if he may be focusing now on first officially getting to the NFR, a PRCA world title could certainly be in the cards in December.
“Well, the way they have it set up, it pays enough money now that anyone has a real shot of winning the title once you get there,” Mauney said.
The two-time PBR World Finals event winner also could become just the third rider in history to win the average at the World Finals and the NFR. The only other two riders to pull off the monumental feat are nine-time World Champion Ty Murray and L.J. Jenkins.
One record Mauney will not be likely pursuing anymore is 2004 PBR World Champion Mike Lee’s record of 16 consecutive PBR World Finals qualifications.
Mauney originally intended to return to PBR competition this summer at Last Cowboy Standing at Cheyenne Frontier Days, but he is going to instead remain focused on his PRCA goals.
There still could be one final path to the PBR World Finals if he were to change his mind, but Mauney said he is not planning on pursuing that option. The fan favorite could, in theory, begin to use his World Champion exemptions in October once the PRCA season regular season is over and make a last-second dash for the PBR World Finals at the final five Unleash The Beast events, but Mauney says he does not intend on doing that this year and would prefer to rest his body for the NFR.
Mauney currently has zero points in the PBR world standings, and he is 107 points behind the Top 35.
“My original plan was to try and make both Finals, but I am just having too much fun right now,” Mauney said. “The easiest way to put it is you do something almost every weekend of your life for 15 years and change ain’t so bad every once in a while.”
And in regards to what his future may hold in 2022, Mauney said he will take the same approach he always does following the NFR and weigh his options.
“It just depends on how I feel next year,” Mauney concluded. “I would get into all those big rodeos right off the bat so will see.”
Article Courtesy of the PBR
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media