If history repeats #2 Vastbinder and Harris will Shine in Cheyenne

 If history repeats #2 Vastbinder and Harris will Shine in Cheyenne

Eli Vastbinder and Long Creek Outfitters and Harris Arrive in Wyoming as #2

#2 Eli Vastbinder

Only once in the CBR history of the World Finals in Cheyenne has the competition been any closer than this year’s edition of the final stop on the Road to Cheyenne. In 2015, Cody Teel arrived in Cheyenne one bull ahead of Sage Kimzey and left the World Champion. This season’s fans can thank the number two ranked Eli Vastbinder for the amazing season and photo finish we are preparing for in Cheyenne. Eli Vastbinder of Statesville, North Carolina, has provided a twelve month nail bitter of a season where Vastbinder challenged the field weekly with his consistency and he arrives within striking distance of the reigning CBR and PRCA World Champ, Sage Kimzey for his fourth appearance at a CBR World Finals.

A cowboy that describes himself and his riding style as an “all in anything kind of cowboy” Eli Vastbinder has lived up to his style this season. Vastbinder feels he is best under pressure and works out, rodeos, and uses practice bulls to stay in shape.

“I focus on thinking about the events I did do good at, and trying to repeat my pattern of when I won,” said Vastbinder on preparing for events. “I ride best when money and titles are on the line,” added the 26 year old bull rider that is the only resident on the draw from the East coast.

If you are a betting man here is what you need to know. Eli Vastbinder shines in Cheyenne. In the last two years he has ridden four of his five draws while in Wyoming. In 2016 he rode four of five for a one bull finish behind Kimzey and the only rider besides Kimzey to ride in the final four man round, he placed second place in the World Final average. In 2015, he rode four of five at the finals finishing in the top five.

This year he comes into Cheyenne in the best position of his seven year professional year. He is riding at an all-time high of 77.78 percent of the bulls he attempts within the CBR sanctioned Road to Cheyenne televised tour. He rode in fifteen of the sixteen events missing only Window Rock, the second tour stop due to injury. He came back strong the next week with his first and only event championship in Laughlin where he was three for three. Vastbinder qualified for seven final four Shoot Out rounds - second to Kimzey’s eight on the list for Shoot Out round appearances during this season.

He had a ride streak of eight in a row that began in January with four for four in the two night Jackson, Tennessee performance. He hit a hot streak again in March and rode seven consecutive beginning in late March and that roll stretched to the tour finale in Del Rio.

Vastbinder has been matched with five of the CBR Bull of the Year candidates with a winning streak and his highest marked ride of the year, (92.5) coming from 2016 Bull of the Year and current nominee, 2079 Cowtown Cartel owned by William Barnett. He rode Jack Tar (JQH) last year in Cheyenne, and Karaoke (Elite) this season, but the one bull that interrupted Vastbinder’s bid to ride all of this year’s nominees he was paired with was Chaos Ghost (Winston) who got the best of Vastbinder twice on this year’s Road to Cheyenne as did Hy Test (Scharping/Harris) in Rio Rancho, early in the season.  Vastbinder has not attempted nominees Stanly Hart (Dalton), The Communicator (Sellers), Breaking Bad (Hurst), or Cowbanger (Cude) this season but did buck off of Breaking Bad in Del Rio in 2016.

Vastbinder’s has finished twice in the top ten final CBR World Standings - fifth in 2014, and sixth in 2016. He was 13th in 2015. He has $47,650 in the bank thanks to CBR and earned 2118.5 points for his second place ranking on the regular season. He is a native of Ohio and currently resides in Statesville, North Carolina. Vastbinder has been on tour with CBR since 2014 when he won the CBR Las Vegas Shoot Out his rookie year.

#2 CBR Bull Team Challenge Qualifiers - Long Creek Outfitters and Jeff Harris

It is safe to say that the reigning World Champion Bull Team stock contractor, Jeff Harris of Palestine, Texas, had momentum from the beginning of the 2017 Road to Cheyenne Bull Team Challenge.

Taking took home the top bull team honors twice in the first 60 days of the season’s competition, the team and its bull guru obviously used the $100,000 win in Cheyenne as inspiration for a second stellar follow up season in CBR competition, not just for the Harris family but their many loyal partners as well.

With multiple teams in the BTC competition it is always a tough decision for Harris to group them in the sets of three to compete, but after winning the first Cheyenne Challenge on night one in Huron, which is an automatic entry to the CBR World Finals, a second place finish in Huron on night two, third in Laughlin, and a gold buckle in Conroe, it is safe to say that Jeff Harris has the bull team momentum for 2016-17.

Harris and partners Mark and Jodi Smith of Long Creek Outfitters in Leon, Iowa, finished this season tied for first place with 33 points and $44,000 on the team labeled Long Creek Outfitters and Harris.

Their first of two team wins in their regular three out rounds of competing resulted when they put together a three bull roster that resulted in two qualified rides and the third was 7.26 seconds in Conroe, Texas.  Travis Briscoe almost rode Big Baby for 7.26 seconds and an 87-point bull score in the long round to start Harris’s night. Y104 Speckled Pup, a bull owned with Mark and Jodi Smith, who anchored the team win with Corey Bailey’s 89 point ride. Eli Vastbinder took the semifinal bull, a four year old former futurity calf, 277 Dirty Little Secret, to the whistle with 87.5 points. 277 is definitely part of the Harris touch this year as he has been a part of both of Harris winning trios.

“This was special tonight to win it with the Smith’s team and their bull Y104 on the team, I try really hard for every partner to do my best, and this was really exceptional as we were in good company against such great other bull teams,” said Harris after loading up his traveling partners for the night.

Next event for this team was Enid, Oklahoma in January at the first event of the calendar year. He bucked his anchor bull of this team, 277 Dirty Little Secret, with 231 Big Baby and  Y104 Speckled Pup for a no qualified ride night, but the three performed well enough to earn high bull scores and a third place with 282.77 points and the $8,000 check that combined with 10 BTC world qualifying points increases in value.

Six weeks later the team would travel a short distance to the almost hometown event of Lufkin, Texas for their third and final out. In a heartbreaking loss of the title – the Long Creek/Harris team would come in second, just .23 points behind the first place team. Harris rotated 27 El Toro to the team of 277 and 231. Harris finished second with two qualified rides from 277 and 231 including a 91.5 round win from Corey Bailey on Big Baby which earned him the Champion Bull honors of Lufkin as well.

It is a no brainer to predict Jeff Harris and company as a top contender for a second CBR World Champion bull team win and title. With six bull teams and 19 bulls qualified for this year’s CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days, Harris will be the busiest man behind the chutes come Monday night!

Harris, owner operator of Rafter J Ranch is a commercial cattle operator residing in Palestine, Texas with his wife Susan and two children, who will no doubt be making the trip to Wyoming to help Dad -  Lacee Harris Fetterman and husband Cory, and son Tate, a former professional bull rider and his wife Nicole Ray Harris who also raise buckers and compete on the Road to Cheyenne.