In front of a packed crowd at the Townsville Entertainment Centre on Saturday night, Clermont’s Aaron Kleier was crowned national champion of the 2018 Australian Professional Bull Rider tour.
Mundubbera’s Lane Mellers, 19, walked away as the 2018 Rookie of the Year after he was granted a release from his US College coach to fly home to Australia to try and qualify for the finals.
Kleier, who was the 2017 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year, approached the second night of make or break bull riding in the PBR grand finals with the same grit and determination that has seen him maintain the number one spot on the national rankings throughout the year.
Battling for glory in Townsville, only five hours from his home base in Clermont, 20 year-old Kleier has enjoyed a stand-out year.
He was dubbed ‘Mr Consistency’ after riding more bulls than anyone else on the PBR Australia Tour, 46 of the 80 attempted, for a 46 per cent success rate.
The Townsville event champion, Brazil’s Lucas Divino, has a higher success rate, 63pc, but did that riding 14 of 22 bulls.
Successfully riding one bull each night at Townsville, Aaron finished in third place for the event but did enough to stay on top of the overall leaderboard.
A man of few words, he could not hide his emotions as he was announced the new Australian PBR national champion – and the crowd erupted in support of the young champion who took home $15,000 prize money.
Aaron is now 47th in the PBR world rankings.
Eighteen of Australia’s top riders, as well as four key internationals, competed across the weekend.
Despite gallant efforts, number two on the leaderboard, Cliff Richardson, Hunter Valley, NSW, number three Fraser Babbington, Gisborne, New Zealand, and number four, Cody Heffernan, also from the Hunter Valley, who had been head-to-head with Kleier throughout the Australian season, could not close the gap for the title.
Bull of the Year honours
The competition among the bull contractors at the Townsville event was close.
Bull of the event honours was shared by Dittmann’s Paradise Outdoors Advertising Fully Locked and Loaded and Brandenburg’s Lock N Load, while bull team honours went to Dittman Bucking Bulls.
The overall 2018 PBR Australian Stock Contractor of the Year title was also announced at the grand final event – the Hunter-based TnR Bucking Bulls took the win home for NSW in a night otherwise dominated by Queenslanders.
Of their win, the Throsby and Russell partnership that makes up TnR Bucking Bulls thanked PBR Australia for allowing them to bring their animal superstars to the best events, “with the best cowboys and best bulls you’ll ever see”.
“They say you’re only as good as your competitors so we must go alright. Thanks to anyone and everyone that has helped us over the years.”
It has been a tough PBR season for competitors, and it starts all over again in Melbourne at the PBR Monster Energy Tour: Melbourne Invitational on Saturday, December 1, the opening event for the 2019 season.