BILLINGS — Even though he no longer attends school, the education of Jake Lockwood continues.
He’s traded classrooms for arenas in the United States and Canada with the lessons coming one bull at a time.
The Volborg teenager was in Billings Friday night, competing at the PRCA NILE Rodeo for the second time in his young career.
He passed his test Friday night, scoring 84 points on a re-ride. His score was second only to Hawk Witt’s 88-point effort.
Friday night’s performance was also highlighted by a 7.6-second run by Haven Meged in tie-down roping and an 88-point bareback ride by Jamie Howlett.
The rodeo concludes Saturday with a 7 p.m. performance at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark. It is Patriot Night.
It was Lockwood’s first official bull ride since the beginning of September. He had returned to the family ranch in southeast Montana after struggling with a head injury.
“I hit my head in Lethbridge and it kept escalating all summer,” he said. “I couldn’t see sometimes after a while and was damn near blacking out at times. Every time, I got on, I was worrying about it.
“I know, I should have seen a doctor.”
The younger brother of 2017 Professional Bull Riders world champion Jess Lockwood is competing on the last year of his PRCA permit. In February he won the bull riding at a PRCA event in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“It was good,” he said of his first PRCA win. “I was hoping it was co-sanctioned so it would count in the Montana circuit standings.”
Lockwood also won PBR lower-level events in Canada in May. He won at Nipawin, Saskatchewan, and 20 days later, added a victory at Prince Albert.
Along with adjusting to the higher-caliber of bull, “The power and speed,” he said, Lockwood is working through the mental rigors of riding bulls for a living.
“You learn about taking the wins and the losses,” he said. “In high school, you’re not used to getting bucked off four bulls in a row. That messes with your head and you’re trying to fix the problem. You start fixing stuff that ain’t broke.
“You’ve got to forget about the buck-offs. You can’t let that stuff bother you. You know how to do it. It’s a matter of stepping up and doing it on a better bull.”
Lockwood is still pondering his riding plans for 2020. If he continues with the PRCA, he will have to purchase his rookie card.
He also placed fourth at the PBR event in Fresno, California, and seventh in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to finish 63rd in the PBR world standings. Both he and his brother will be competing at the PBR Velocity Finals, Nov. 2-3 in Las Vegas.
Lockwood does have one solid plan for the upcoming year.
“Just ride more bulls. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “It’s not a very complicated sport.”
In other events:
Meged, who will be competing at his first National Finals Rodeo this December, took over the lead in tie-down roping and moved to second in the average. He also won the national circuit title and the collegiate championship this year.
Howlett was 88 points on Two Buck Church, just two points shy of the NILE record. Caleb Bennett of Corvallis, also headed to the NFR, moved into the money with an 85-point ride.
Stanford’s Luke Gee put down his steer in 4.2 seconds to move into the average lead for steer wrestling while a time of 5.3 seconds by Texans Lathen Bryant and Matt Schieck took them to the front of the team roping average.
A pair of 80s, by Logan Hay and Tanner Butner were the top saddle bronc scores of the night. Conrad’s Taylor Russell posted a time of 14.54 seconds to lead the barrel racing.