The heartbreak of barely missing the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo has become a common reality for bull rider Ruger Piva.
Piva finished 17th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings the past two seasons and had to put his Wrangler NFR debut on hold.
“Being so close twice has definitely pushed me a lot harder this year,” said Piva, 26. “It can either be a negative or a positive and I’m trying to make sure it will never happen again.”
Piva is doing his best to not have his NFR bubble burst in 2021, he is sitting 13th in the world standings with $43,028.
Piva’s also been making a point to compete in the ProRodeo Tour rodeos and that decision has paid off as he’s fourth in the ProRodeo Tour standings with 2056.93 points.
“Last year right after San Antonio (in February) I was right up there in the world standings, and I went to the doctor because my hip was hurting really bad,” Piva said. “I had to have reconstructive surgery on most of the muscles on my right hip. Right when COVID hit, it kind of worked out for me, but I came back a little too soon and I had the lowest riding percentage of my career, around 30 percent, and I still almost made the NFR.”
“This year, I’m feeling healthy, that has been part of it, and I’ve just been taking every bull serious, not overlooking anything.”
Piva finished second at the San Antonio Stock & Rodeo on Feb. 27, earning a season-best $12,800.
The ProRodeo Tour is the culmination of the most prestigious tour on the PRCA circuit. The Tour finale will take place at California Rodeo Salinas, Sept. 23-26 and will punch tickets to the Wrangler NFR for a majority of ProRodeo athletes.
Something not lost on Piva.
“I have made a point to go to the ProRodeo Tour rodeos,” Piva said. “There’s going to be a lot of money there in Salinas. It is also good money at the (ProRodeo Tour) rodeos as well so it is just a win-win.”
The Top 24 competitors in each event in the ProRodeo Tour Standings advance to the Tour Finale and will compete in the high-dollar rodeo on the season’s final weekend.
“With Salinas paying a lot of money it can be the difference of a guy being 30th in the world (standings) to qualifying for the NFR if he can win Salinas,” Piva said. “I would definitely like to win it or be in one of the top places in Salinas for sure this year.”
The Tour Finale will air on The Cowboy Channel and will stream on the PRCA on Cowboy Channel Plus App. For more information, visit cowboychannelplus.com.
The ProRodeo season ends Sept. 30. The Top 15 athletes in the PRCA | RAM World Standings in each event will qualify for the Wrangler NFR.