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Jess Lockwood rallies to capture second PBR world title

Jess Lockwood missed nine PBR events this season while recovering from a broken collarbone. But he was plenty healthy for the most important one of the season.

The PBR World Finals at T-Mobile Arena.

The site of his second PBR world title.

Lockwood, 22, completed his first five eight-second rides at the finals and finished Sunday with an aggregate score of 453 to win the event — and his second world championship in three seasons. The Volborg, Montana native totaled 2,265 points during the five-day finale to surpass incumbent points leader Jose Vitor Leme, who finished second this season and fifth in the finals.

Lockwood ended the season with 8,495 points to Leme’s 7,642.

At age 20, Lockwood was the youngest ever PBR world champion in 2017. Now he’s the youngest two-time champion.

“It’s all a blur. It’s like I don’t remember much of holding up the trophy with the first one and same with this. It’s happening so fast,” he said. “I don’t know how long it’ll take. Last one took a while and this probably will too. It’s put me in a different type of category now.”

Lockwood won two of his first three events this year and finished in the top five of five of his first six, but was horned by a bull during a competition in early February and consequently missed nearly three months.

He won twice in June, though, three times in July and three times in August to close in on the 23-year-old Leme, and knew he had a chance to overtake him at the world finals.

“I knew Jose was going to stay on every bull he had pretty much,” Lockwood said. “He was in No. 1 for a reason, so I knew I had to step up my game and I just tried to keep it simple and ride every bull I got.”

Leme didn’t stay on every bull he had — getting bucked off Thursday and Sunday — and missed crucial points while Lockwood rallied. Lockwood scored an 86.5 in the first round Wednesday, and followed with scores of 91.5, 92, 91.75 and 91.25.

Leme was bucked off his penultimate ride Sunday, clinching the championship for Lockwood ahead of his ride.

“Every single bull I get on, the better I feel,” Lockwood said. “Just keep running them under me each night. I felt better and better. … World finals, it’s the best bulls.”

Smooth Operator, in fact, was the very best bull this year and earned world champion honors in 2019 with an average score of 45.42. His owner, Chad Berger, was named PBR Stock Contractor of the Year for the ninth time.

Newcomer Dalton Kasel, 20, captured rookie of the year honors after finishing eighth in the world standings.

But the day — and week — belonged to Lockwood, who celebrated his title by posing for photos atop the stage with his championship trophy, parents and wife, Hailey Kinsel, an NFR barrel riding champion.

He earns $1 million in prize money for winning the championship and $300,000 for winning the event.

“He’s not a kid anymore. He’s a young man now,” said Lockwood’s father, Ed. “This is what he strives for. … That’s what he works out for all year long, sometimes twice a day. He puts in the effort. Any time you can reach your goal, it’s a big deal.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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