By Frank J. Buchman
The best bull riders in the world have April 23rd marked on their calendars as a Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour returns to Wichita, Kansas.
It’s the PBR Nexgrill Invitational of the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, according to Kacie Albert at the Wrangler Network.
“For one night only, top bull riders will battle the sport’s rankest bovine athletes in the ultimate showdown,” Albert promised.
In 2020, Michael Lane, Tazewell, Virginia, rode two of his three bulls to win his first event of the season.
Lane won the first go-round with 87.5-points ride aboard Jerry Lee from Shuler Bucking Bulls. Lane covered Snoop Dog from Danley Bucking Bulls marking 87.5-points to be runner-up in the second go-round
However, Lane was bucked off Bezerk from BMC Bucking Bulls in 5.31-seconds during the championship round. Still with a two-for-three finish, the three-time PBR World Finals qualifier won the tour event. He moved from 51st to 35th in world standings.
Other past PBR Nexgrill Invitational winners include: Daylon Swearingen, Piffard, New York, 2019; Ouncie Mitchell, Fresno, Texas, 2018; Cody Heffernan, Singleton, New South Wales, Australia, 2017; Nevada Newman, Melstone, Montana, 2016; Cody White Tyler, Talala, Oklahoma, 2015; and Juan Alonzo, Weslaco, Texas, 2014.
Wichita has hosted the tour since 2014, with the exception of coronavirus concerns causing cancelation last year.
However, Wichita has hosted the PBR’s Unleash The Beast (UTB) and Touring Pro Division (TPD) a collective five times.
Those winners include: Valdiron de Oliveira, Balcimo, Brazil, 2013 TPD; Ryan Dirteater, Hulbert, Oklahoma, 2011 ITB; Austin Meier, Kinta, Oklahoma, 2010 UTB; Skeeter Kingsolver. McLouth, Kansas, 2009 TPD; and Cole Taylor, Sayre, Oklahoma, 2007 TPD.
The PBR’s return to Wichita comes on the spurs of one of the fiercest races for the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour in history.
While Lane held the first place position most of last year, he was surpassed during the last out of the year. Adriano Salgado, Batatais, Brazil, used a runner-up finish at the tour finals to surge to the top ranking in the standings.
Salgado finished 26.5-points ahead of second place Lane, who was unable to compete at the yearend event due to injury.
Wichita is this year’s 24th Pendleton Whisky Velocity event in PBR’s fastest-growing tour. Earlier stops included Portland, Oregon; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Jacksonville, Florida; and North Charleston, South Carolina.
Bull riding action at Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena begins at 7 o’clock, Saturday evening, April 23rd.
All 40 competing riders will attempt one bull each in the first go-round. The Top
Ten will advance to the championship round in an effort to be crowned the event champion.
Tickets are available from PBR Customer Service at 1-800-732-1727. Elite seats include a question-and-answer presentation with the top bull riders and stock contractors in the world. Those spectators also receive a concession voucher, souvenir credential and lanyard, and post-event photo opportunity from the dirt.
Bull riders removed cover standing at attention for the national anthem before the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour two years ago in Wichita. The PBR Nexgrill Invitational will return to Wichita featuring 40 bull riders on April 23rd.Skeeter Kingsolver of McLouth, Kansas, was the 2009 Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Touring Pro Division winner in Wichita. At 165-pounds, the five-foot-ten, 32-year-old has ridden 277, 41 percent, of the 673 bulls he’s mounted. With 16 event wins, Kingsolver has marked 90-points or more nine times. It’s uncertain at press time if Kingsolver will be at the upcoming PBR tour stop in Wichita.