There was fire, pagentry and flying bull riders Monday night, but it was a cowboy who lives just up the road in Walla Walla, who came out on top of the action Monday night at the PBR Classic at Happy Canyon Arena.
Derek Kolbaba was one of 10 men in the finals, and the only one to post a legal ride.
He scored 63 points on a brown bull named Because. He was offered a re-ride, but with no other man lasting the required 8 seconds, he opted to keep his points and walk away with a score of 147.5 on two.
“Any time you get to come to Pendleton, it is a great feeling,” Kolbaba said. “It’s an event my family has taken me to since before I could walk. My dad (Kyle) rode bulls in the 1990s. That’s how I was raised. The PBR is something I have always wanted to be a part of.”
Kolbaba, 22, advanced to the finals with an 84.5-point ride on a black and white bull named Roosters Edge.
“I had been on the first one before and he bucked me off,” Kolbaba said. “It was nice to get revenge. The second one was trashy. Bulls like that don’t have a set pattern.”
Kolbaba, who is sitting 14th in the PBR standings, will have a chance to improve on his score Tuesday. He is one of a handful of guys who will be back for a second tour.
“This is one of those years where injuries have caused me to sit out,” he said of his place in the standings.
Cliff Richardson of Australia had the top score of 88 going into the final round, but his second bull, Uptown Funk, spun him off before he got halfway through the 8-second ride.
Mason Taylor of Maypearl, Texas, who turned 19 just two weeks ago, had an 87.5 going into the finals, but he was less than one second from getting a legal ride on a bull named Disco.
Cody Campbell of Summerville had the third-best score of the night in the prelims at 85.5 on a white bull named Area Code.