Jess Lockwood prepares to be interviewed

Jess Lockwood of Volborg enters the Professional Bull Riders World Finals fourth in the Built Ford Tough Series standings. The PBR World Finals begin Wednesday in Las Vegas.

CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff

BILLINGS — The highs were plenty and profitable.

The lows were, well, just painful.

Jess Lockwood’s roller-coaster bull riding is on the ascent as he enters the Professional Bull Riders World Finals.

The $2.3 million event begins Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. There are five full rounds of competition, with the top 15 advancing to Sunday’s final round.

The 2017 year-end champion receives a $1 million bonus. The Finals champion earns an additional $250,000.

Lockwood is joined at the PBR World Finals by Matt Triplett of Columbia Falls, who is 16th in the standings, and Billings native Mike Lee, who is 30th. Lee is a former PBR world champion.

Also in the field is former Northwest College standout and former PRCA world champion Shane Proctor, along with two-time world champion and 2017 Billings winner J.B. Mauney, who is returning after missing most of the year with a shoulder injury.

Mauney rode PBR Bull of the Year contender SweetPro’s Bruiser for 94.25 points in Billings. Pearl Harbor had the highest mark of the year with 47.5 points after tossing Triplett in 1.98 seconds in Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. Pearl Harbor and SweetPro’s Bruiser are 1-2 in the PBR Bull of the Year standings, the winner determined by performance at the PBR World Finals.

Pearl Harbor's owner, Chad Berger, was selected the PBR Stock Contractor of the Year for the fourth year in a row and a PBR-record seventh time.

Lockwood, 20, enters his second PBR World Finals fourth in the Built Ford Tough Series standings. The Volborg cowboy trails standings leader and his closest friend on the tour, Derek Kolbaba, by just 467.5 points. Less than 500 points separate the top five in the standings.

Lockwood cut into the lead by riding three of four bulls at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals this past weekend to earn $13,900. The rides, included a 91-point effort in the first round, his eighth 90-point ride of the season.

Reigning and three-time PRCA world champion Sage Kimzey won the event to earn a spot in the PBR World Finals.

Lockwood, the 2016 PBR Rookie of the Year, suffered four broken ribs, a punctured lung and a lacerated kidney after being stepped on at the PBR event in Uniondale, N.Y. in late September. He returned to the arena a few weeks later to stay in the title chase.

Lockwood is trying to become the youngest champion in PBR history.

“In the world champion race, you are going to be sore but you have to push through it,” Lockwood told PBR writer Justin Felisko. “I had been dragging the last couple of events but I had been feeling good.

“The last event (San Jose) is the best I have felt but whenever you are hot, then you have to sit out, then you cool down and then you have to come back from being hurt. You just are kind of timid at first and have slow reactions almost, but I figured why not ride in (the Velocity Finals). I can get more points, money. There is no downside to it.”

Lockwood opened the 2017 season by winning New York City and more than $100,000 to immediately put himself in the title picture. He followed with a win at Sacramento, California, a few weeks later.

Lockwood, a two-time Northern Rodeo Association champion, suffered a torn groin at the Iron Cowboy in Arlington, Texas, and had to miss a handful of BFTS events. He managed just one qualified ride in Billings in April at the same event he won a year ago.

He warmed up during the summer, placing among the top three at five lower-level events, winning at Binford, North Dakota. Lockwood also placed second at the Calgary Stampede after winning the first three rounds of pool competition.

He continued to ride well, winning at Tulsa, Oklahoma, to start the second half of the PBR season.

But Lockwood had to be carried out of the arena in Springfield, Missouri, after tangling with Sweet Pro’s Bruiser and suffering a concussion and back spasms.

He returned to win Austin, Texas, almost unable to stand straight when receiving his awards.

Lockwood finished eighth in the final 2016 standings. He was 0 for 5 at the World Finals, struggling with an injured riding hand.

Email Joe Kusek at joe.kusek@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

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