Hot streak

L.J. Jenkins rides D&H's Savage Shaker for 84.25 points during the second round of the Tulsa Built Ford Tough PBR. Andy Watson, courtesy bullstockmedia.com

Pop quiz time, bull riding fans.

Name the hottest bull rider on the Professional Bull Riders' Built Ford Tough Series over the past month.

And here's a hint: It is not Kody Lostroh, Guilherme Marchi or J.B. Mauney — the men who won the Ontario, Calif., Springfield, Mo., and Reno, Nev., events, respectively.

While much of the attention paid to the PBR lately has rightfully focused on the three-way race developing for the world championship between the men mentioned above, the hottest rider over the past few weeks is L.J. Jenkins.

Starting with his second-place finish in the Reno Invitational, the 22-year-old Jenkins, of Texico, N.M., has quietly ridden 11 of the 13 bulls run under him, finished in the top three in three of the past four events and won $47,336.

That 84-percent riding percentage is the highest of any cowboy on the Built Ford Tough Series during the four-week stretch.

Lostroh, the no. 1 rider in the Built Ford Tough Series standings, rode 5 of his 12 bulls (.416) during the three-week stretch. Marchi rode 7 of 11 (.636) and Mauney rode 8 of 12 (.666).

Jenkins, who finished second in Reno and third in both Springfield and Ontario, said his recent hot streak is a combination of being healthy, being confident and drawing or drafting good bulls.

"I'm just riding good," he said. "I'm feeling good and I've been able to stay on. That's about it. It feels good to be healthy and riding good."

It's a good time to be on a hot streak. With three events to go before the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas — an event where Jenkins has done well in the past — being healthy will be key as riders face eight rounds against the rankest bulls in the business.

Jenkins learned all too well in 2008 about riding with injuries at the end of the season.

He broke his right collarbone in September of that year at the BFTS event in Jacksonville, Fla., when the bull he was riding fell and Jenkins slammed his shoulder into the dirt. He had surgery and was out until the PBR World Finals.

He rode his first-round bull for 88.5 points, but in the second round of the Finals, he strained his right hip abductor during a ride on the bull What I Say. He attempted his bulls over the next four rounds, but bucked off all of them. He finished 12th in the final BFTS points standings.

It was a far cry from his performance at the 2006 PBR World Finals when, as a 19-year-old, he rode six of his eight bulls — including three 90-point rides — and won the event and $288,567.

This season started slowly for Jenkins. Through the first 17 events, he had won only a little more than $5,000 and had only one top-10 finish.

Then a sixth-place finish in Billings, Mont., started a string in which he won money in five of the next six events, including $14,752 for a second-place finish in San Antonio, Texas.

He was shut out at the BFTS event in Nashville, Tenn., but another second-place finish in Reno started his most recent run.

For the season, Jenkins has won $117,429. He is 12th in the Built Ford Tough Series points standings and 12th in the Qualifier Standings for the World Finals.

He said his recent run has been a combination of feeling good and feeling confident.

"I've got a lot of confidence right now," he said. "I'm feeling good and riding good and I'm ready for the Finals."