J.B. Mauney walked into the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon, on February 17, 2006, and sheepishly wheeled his gear bag around the corner of the long hallway and took a turn into the Built Ford Tough Series locker room.
The 19-year-old rookie was getting ready to make his BFTS debut, and who did he see in the locker room looking back at him?
Well, how about eventual three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes, two-time World Champion Chris Shivers and eventual two-time World Champion Justin McBride.
And what did the North Carolina cowboy from Mooresville do that weekend? Mauney just went on to go 3-for-3 and used an 88.25-point ride on Tequila Splash to finish in second place at his debut event.
It has been 10-plus years since James Burton Mauney was that 19-year-old kid attempting to trade blows with Moraes, Shivers and McBride.
Nowadays, the 29-year-old is a two-time World Champion – one of only five riders to win multiple championships in PBR history – and a bonafide superstar. He’s is the old dog in the locker room now, fielding questions from young kids with championships in their eyes wanting their own version of the gold buckle that Mauney wears around his waist.
Specifically, 18-year-old Jess Lockwood.
The PBR’s youngest rider on the Built Ford Tough Series and Mauney are two of the Top 35 bull riders that will be competing at the Broadmoor World Arena on September 24-25.
Mauney and Lockwood – a three-time Montana State High School Rodeo Champion – are separated by 10 years.
Lockwood is one of a slew of PBR young guns making noise this year on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Current world leader Kaique Pacheco (21), 2015 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals event winner Cooper Davis (22), rookie Derek Kolbaba (20) and Canadian superstar Tanner Byrne (24) are just a few of the next generation of bull riders trying to put a halt to Mauney’s world title defense.
“I was in those young guys’ same situation when I showed up,” Mauney said. “I wanted to whip everybody’s (butt), but now that I have been around here for 10-11 years, I still want to whip everybody’s (butt). They are all really good. They are going to be around for a long, long time – way after I am gone. In bull riding, there is one thing you cannot win, and that is Father Time.”
Despite the strong young guns class, the road to the 2016 World Championship still goes through Mauney.
The future PBR Hall of Famer leads all active riders with 69 career 90-point rides as of Aug. 25 and he taught the young Lockwood a lesson two weeks ago in Nashville by eliminating him from the 36-rider tournament with an 87.5-point ride on Alligator Arms.
Mauney is currently second in the world standings and leads the PBR with a 55.55-percent riding percentage. He also leads the PBR with three 15/15 Bucking Battles victories.
Shoot, Lockwood was only nine years old when Mauney was qualifying for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals in 2006.
“Everybody has been watching Jess Lockwood,” Mauney said. “He rides really good. It looks like he is taking it all in stride. The little kid showed me a picture of me and him. I don’t know what year it was, but he was in middle school. He took it with me in the locker room and I was already in the hallway at Billings.
Mauney pauses with a laugh, before adding, “I was like, ‘How old were you? And he told me. And I said, ‘Eat (it).’”
Lockwood made his BFTS debut this year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has already won a BFTS event (Billings, Montana) and barely has as many qualified rides (11) as Mauney does years of PBR service (11).
“He is the best bull rider in the world,” Lockwood said. “I just have to do my part. That is all I can do. I am not worrying about him. He is just another guy that can ride a bull, but a lot better than anyone else.”
This year has been a whirlwind for the Volborg, Montana bull rider. He just recently graduated from high school, and moved in to PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert’s ranch. This time last year, he was sitting on his couch watching the PBR on TV.
“I was watching (PBR) on TV and dreamed of being here,” Lockwood said. “Now that I am here, it is pretty awesome to throw my bag right next to J.B. and all of the other guys growing up.”