'It really touched my heart': Ryan Dirteater receives the biggest cheers, but Brazilian wins PBR event in OKC
It was the first time Ryan Dirteater received a standing ovation after getting bucked off a bull.
The Cherokee Kid failed to win the Express Classic Invitational in Oklahoma City for a third consecutive time on Saturday night, but you wouldn't have known it by the reaction from the hometown crowd. Dirteater was bucked off in the championship round by the bull, Preacher's Kid, sending the Hulbert bull rider to a 13th-place finish, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he walked out of the arena for a final time.
"It caught me by surprise," Dirteater said of the standing ovation. "It really touched my heart when I heard that. I think that was louder than when I won it. It was loud when I won it, but that was just something else. It just shows the heart and dedication and support of the fans. I can't thank them enough."
Dirteater, 30, has announced this will be his last season on the Professional Bull Riders tour after 12 years. This weekend in Oklahoma City was a farewell sendoff for the Oklahoma cowboy. The PBR created a souvenir shirt for the Express Classic Invitational to sell to fans this weekend that featured an image of Dirteater riding the bucking bull, Bruiser, two years ago to the title in Oklahoma City.
Winning the event in Oklahoma City three years in a row would have been historic for the PBR Tour.
"To win an event three times in a row, I don't think that has ever happened," Dirteater said. "I think they have won three events, but not consecutively. To win it twice is amazing."
It was Dirteater's weekend, but the event was dominated by two bull riders from Brazil. Jose Vitor Leme and Ramon de Lima were the only bull riders to go 3-for-3 in Oklahoma City, with Leme getting the win and Lima finishing second.
Defending PBR world champion Jess Lockwood twice had a final shot Saturday to knock Leme from the first-place perch in the championship round. Lockwood had ridden both bulls in the first two rounds and needed a 90.25 on the bull Safety Meeting to overtake Leme.
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Lockwood was tossed from the bull but was awarded a re-ride by the judges, so the Montana cowboy had a second chance to snatch the victory away from Leme. Lockwood drew the bull Old Fort Days for the re-ride but suffered the same fate. Leme finished second to Lockwood last year in a close race for the world championship.
It was a tough night for all four Oklahoma bull riders in the Express Classic. Dirteater and Sulphur's Brennon Eldred qualified for the championship round based on their successful rides on Friday night, but were 0-for-2 on Saturday.
Porum's Cannon Cravens and Konawa's Colten Jesse both didn't make the eight-second buzzer in their rides on Saturday night. Cravens, however, would have been in the championship round after posting an 83.25 on Friday but had to withdraw from the championship round due to injury.