‘This is our dirt’

Ruth Nicolaus
for Tri-State Livestock News
Stetson Lawrence attempts to ride Jane Clark/Gene Owen's Cochise during the championship round of the St. Louis PBR 25th Anniversary Unleash the Beast. Photo by Andy Watson
Andy Watson

One of the biggest international sporting events took place earlier this month.

The PBR Global Cup was in Arlington, Texas February 9-10.

The Global Cup is a PBR event with five countries competing against each other, in a team format. Those countries: the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico, each field a team of seven riders, a coach, and an alternate. The hosting country (this year, the U.S.), gets home field advantage by having a second coach and team.

This year, for the first time, a team made up exclusively of Native Americans took the field, as one of the U.S. teams.

Coached by former PBR bull rider Wiley Petersen, of the Shoshone Bannock tribes, the USA-Wolves team included Stetson Lawrence, Williston, N.D. (Chippewa and Sioux); Ryan Dirteater, Hulbert, Okla. (Cherokee); Cannon Cravens, Porum, Okla. (Cherokee), Justin Granger, Tuba City, Ariz. (Navajo); Keyshawn Whitehorse, McCracken Springs, Utah (Navajo), Colten Jesse, Konawa, Okla. (Potawatomi) and Cody Jesus, Window Rock, Ariz. (Navajo.) Alternate was Dakota Louis, Browning, Mont. (Northern Cheyenne and Black Feet.)

The second U.S. team, USA-Eagles, was coached by two-time PBR world champion Justin McBride and included Jess Lockwood, Volborg, Mont., Matt Triplett, Columbia Falls, Mont., Cooper Davis, Buna, Texas, Cody Nance, Paris, Tenn., Chase Outlaw, Hamburg, Ark., Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas and Derek Kolbaba, Walla Walla, Wash. Alternate for the Eagles team was Sage Kimzey, Strong City, Okla., who took the place of Lockwood on Feb. 10, after Lockwood broke his collarbone the previous night.

This is the third year for the PBR Global Cup. It was held in 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with the U.S. winning the event. Last year, it was held in Sydney, Australia, with the win going to Brazil.

The trophy for the Global Cup is unique. Made up of five bull horns, each is decorated in the style and colors similar to the country’s flag, and each horn contains soil from that country. The Global Cup will continue until one nation captures all five horns, thus laying claim to the title, “The Toughest Nation on Dirt.”

This year’s event, called the 2019 WinStar World Casino and Resort Global Cup USA, was the second richest event in PBR history, behind the PBR World Finals. Three-quarters of a million dollars was paid out to Team Brazil, who won the event for the second consecutive year. They made eleven out of eighteen qualified rides to amass a score of 939.25 points and earn $365,100.

The Cup consisted of two days of competition. Each rider rode each night, then a bonus round held, with two men from each nation riding. Each coach chooses the men riding in the bonus round, and chooses the bull they will ride. The team in first place going into the bonus round gets to choose their bull first; then the second team, and so on. For the second rider in the bonus round, the selection reverses. The team in fifth place chooses the bull first, then the team in fourth place, and so on.

For Stetson Lawrence of Williston, it was a privilege to be chosen to compete in this year’s Global Cup. He was part of the USA team in Australia last year, and loved it. “It’s one of the things I’ll never forget. It’s an honor to be chosen.”

The team aspect is something unique about the PBR Global Cup, and Lawrence enjoyed that. “In bull riding, you don’t have teams, and at the Cup, you do. It’s a camaraderie of guys pulling for each other, and it feels like a team effort. You’re rooting for your teammates.”

Lawrence, who has qualified for five consecutive PBR World Finals, also liked having a coach. “It’s cool to have a guy in the locker room to pep us up and get us pumped up and ready to go.” Lawrence has been a PBR rider for the past eleven years with his best season in 2015, when he finished ninth in the world standings.

Wiley Petersen, Ft. Hall, Idaho, is a former PBR rider who retired after the 2011 season. He took his USA-Wolves coaching job seriously, but jokes that “I have the easy job, right? I show up and tell them to hang on,” he laughed.

He liked the team aspect. “It brings out the best in people,” he said, “when they have a team to represent, when there are other people counting on them and cheering them on.”

As coach, he chose the riders on his team and the nights of the event, chose the bulls they rode and the two bonus round competitors. He relied on the advice of his riders when it came to selecting bulls. “I talked to them, because they were more familiar with the bulls, to see what they were confident with.”

Throughout Petersen’s thirteen-year career in the PBR, he felt the presence of the Native Americans back home. “When I was riding, people would slap me on the back all the time and say, ‘that’s awesome that you’re from Fort Hall (home of a Native American reservation).’ It was very encouraging.” Having an all Native American team will put natives in the limelight, he thinks. “It will give Native Americans a spotlight, showing the world that there are some Native American riders out there who have the ability to compete with the top bull riders in the world.”

He took pleasure in his role as a PBR Global Cup coach of the first Native American team. “I’ll let my riders do the talking. I have the easy job. I’ll be the one in the back pens, yelling for them. They have guts and heart and these guys want to show the world what native bull riders can do.”

Team USA-Eagles finished second and Team USA-Wolves, the historic native team, finished third, riding eight of eighteen bulls and earning 691.25 points and $88,400. Team Australia finished fourth, and Team Mexico finished fifth.