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Matt Triplett celebrates

Matt Triplett of Kalispell has been cleared to compete at Professional Bull Riders events again.

BILLINGS — That potential pairing with Drake might have to wait.

Matt Triplett’s weekends will be full again.

On Friday, the Kalispell bull rider got clearance from Dr. Tandy Freeman — the primary doctor of professional cowboys — to compete again.

The 25-year-old Triplett has not ridden a bull in 2018 after undergoing reconstructive shoulder surgery Nov. 8 of last year, three days after the Professional Bull Riders World Finals in Las Vegas.

“It stinks,” he said of being a spectator instead of a participant at this weekend’s PBR event in Billings. “I’ve done pretty well here. And the Billings crowds are great, they know a good ride.

“Sitting out Billings, this is a tough one. Other events, not so hard.”

Triplett’s original plan was to return to the arena in his home state but he had to think long-range instead of short-range when making the decision.

“I was cautious. That’s how I dealt with it,” he said. “I listened to the doctors. I was thinking about my career. I probably could have come back for this event but I didn’t want to take a chance to get hurt again.”

“I’ve learned a lot of patience. Something I thought I would never learn,” Triplett finished with a good laugh.

Triplett was an ascending star in the PBR constellation, finishing third in the 2014 PBR world standings and fifth in 2015. He missed the PBR World Finals in 2016 because of shoulder surgery and finished 19th overall in 2017 and won $132,767.

Triplett is inching toward $800,000 in career earnings.

He was in title contention last year before suffering a torn labrum in Uniondale, New York, in September. Triplett rested a month before competing at the PBR World Finals.

“It was my second shoulder surgery, I came back too soon,” he admitted. “I was in tremendous pain the whole time. I couldn’t lift my free arm. Every time I tried to ride, my shoulder would come out. I was lucky to ride one bull in Las Vegas.”

After the surgery in Dallas, Triplett had to keep his shoulder immobile for six weeks. Since then, he’s been attending therapy sessions five days a week in Kalispell.

“They’re getting the shoulder ready to take falls and hard hits,” he said. “It’s been hard to sit out. I can’t even snowboard.”

To fill his time, Triplett has been playing the hugely popular video game Fortnite. “Some nights, three, four hours,” he said.

“And I’m getting good at it. Hopefully, I get paired with Drake some time.”

The entertainer is known as one of Fortnite's highest-profile players.

Now cleared, Triplett plans to compete at the PBR event in Las Vegas May 4-6 and fill his summer with lower-tier events to make another run at the PBR World Finals.

“I’ll go hard this summer,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation before. I’m not saying I can’t get back in the top 10.”

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

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