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Rodeo Insider: Matt Triplett strengthens hold on top of PBR standings with four-ride weekend in Anaheim

Matt Triplett, of Columbia Falls, Mont., leads the PBR Built Ford Tough Series with 2,020 points, thanks to rides like this one on The Marlin during an event last month at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Matt Triplett, of Columbia Falls, Mont., leads the PBR Built Ford Tough Series with 2,020 points, thanks to rides like this one on The Marlin during an event last month at New York’s Madison Square Garden. AP

The matter of whether or not Matt Triplett had stayed on his final-round bull for eight seconds at last weekend’s Professional Bull Riders tour stop in Southern California was undecided until officials had reviewed the ride on the instant replay system.

When it was announced that Triplett, a 23-year-old cowboy who ranks No. 1 in the world title race, had made a qualified ride aboard a bovine named Mr. Bull (Julio Moreno Bucking Bulls), the Sunday afternoon Honda Center crowd roared in approval.

Triplett received a lofty score of 89, which helped the Columbia Falls, Mont., native clinch the event title.

“This last bull I got on, I barely made the eight seconds,” Triplett said. “So I’m going to go home and ride the heck out of that bucking machine. I need to ride those bulls for 10 seconds, and that way it’s not as close.”

Triplett finished No. 1 at the Anaheim Invitational after finishing as the only rider who stayed on all four bulls. It was a moral victory as well because Triplett was 0-5 in final-round competition after the first five events of the regular season. Though he won the Oklahoma City show on the weekend of Jan. 23-25, Triplett was bucked off in the closing round but still clinched the title after finishing with the highest three-ride aggregate score after no rider stayed on all four bulls.

After winning in Anaheim, Triplett is ranked No. 1 in the PBR Built Ford Tough Series with 2,020 points. He has moved to a commanding lead over defending world champion Silvano Alves, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur. Alves is ranked No. 2 with 1,240 points.

Triplett and Alves are scheduled to ride at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium on Feb. 28 in one of the major PBR events of the season, the Iron Cowboy. The winner will earn at least $180,000, officials said.

“What the PBR is doing for us by putting on that show is tremendous for us,” Triplett said of the Iron Cowboy. “But you have to take one bull at a time. You can’t overlook the money and how many fans are going to be there. You just have to ride those bulls jump for jump.”

Triplett also is scheduled to ride in RFD-TV’s The American on March 1 at AT&T Stadium. The American organizers have invited the PBR’s top riders to compete in the bull-riding segment of the high-profile rodeo. If Triplett wins The American, he will walk away with $100,000.

Last year, Triplett finished third in the Ford Series world title race after finishing fifth overall at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas. Triplett earned $258,025.80 in 2014.

He said the strong finish from 2014 gave him a big mental boost.

“It boosted my confidence at the beginning of the year, knowing that I could ride the rank bulls,” Triplett said. “Part of it is the dedication that I’m putting in during the week. I’m not just going home and sitting down. I’m into working out … getting on the bucking machine, whatever it takes to perfect my game. To be the best, you have to keep on fixing the little mistakes.”

Triplett’s sheer determination has everything to do with why he’ll be the cowboy to watch at this weekend’s tour stop in St. Louis.

“You have to work your heart out and put a lot of dedication into it,” Triplett said “These bulls are getting better and better. They’re breeding them to be so good. You’ve got to perfect your game. There’s always room for improvement.”

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