Professional Bull Rider's New Champ

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Over the course of 10 months, Kody Lostroh battled J.B. Mauney and Guilherme Marchi one event after another, from the East Coast to the West Coast and back again.?Between them, they won 11 of 31 Built Ford Tough Series events. They were the only three riders in the Top 40 who had ridden more than 60 percent of their bulls. Only Lostroh and Mauney had been atop the world standings at any point in the season, but it was Lostroh who arrived in Las Vegas having been ranked No. 1 for the past 20 events.

Yet at the onset of the 2009 PBR World Finals, the trio was separated by just 785 points. Lostroh outright won two rounds (the 4th and 5th) and split a third (the 6th) in a five-way tie (a first in PBR history), and, of course, he rode seven of eight bulls, including four rides for 90 points or more.?He did just about everything anyone could expect of him. In the end, he claimed the title by the slimmest of margins-594 points.

"Every year somebody has exposed something," Justin McKee said, "might not be their throat, but they're bleeding somewhere, and J.B.'s not. He's just as strong, just as powerful and just as confident as Kody Lostroh."

In fact, after three rounds, Ty Murray said, "The guy whose throat he's trying to step on won't present his throat. Kody Lostroh is doing everything in the world to dominate far and away the competition, but there's just one little thing stopping that from happening and that's J.B. Mauney. They're both trying to stand on each other's throat and it's not clear who's winning."

As close as it was heading into the final two rounds on Sunday afternoon, Lostroh never wavered from the strategy he employed throughout the season.?He wasn't calculating points and averages. He wasn't worried about how many bulls the competition rode. For the record, Mauney became the first man to ever ride all eight.

"I'm here to ride my bulls," Lostroh said. "That's the main objective, and anytime you can win on top of that-against the best guys in the world, against the best bulls in the world-it feels pretty cool."