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Rattlers and Freedom Make Late-Season PBR Teams Trade, Sending Young Gun Dawson Gleaves to Oklahoma and Veteran Eli Vastbinder to Texas

Oklahoma also received a second-round 2024 New Rider Draft pick and future considerations

PUEBLO, Colo. (September 18, 2023) – With just three regular-season PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Camping World Team Series events remaining before the Las Vegas Championship, the Texas Rattlers and Oklahoma Freedom, both 10-9, have announced a critical trade.


The Rattlers traded young gun Dawson Gleaves (Amarillo, Texas) to the Freedom, in exchange for their Captain and 2022 Teams Draft first-round pick Eli Vastbinder (Statesville, North Carolina), a second-round pick in the 2024 New Rider Draft, along with future considerations.


“Eli Vastbinder is a veteran with a strong resume and the type of grit that embodies our team and system,” said Chad Blankenship, General Manager of the Texas Rattlers.  “We look forward to welcoming him to our locker room and winning games together.”


“Eli [Vastbinder] was a part of the inauguration of PBR Teams as the No. 1 Draft pick for Oklahoma Freedom,” said Cord McCoy, Head Coach of the Oklahoma Freedom. “He will forever hold an important part in getting Oklahoma Freedom started. As team Captain, he was so valuable in making Oklahoma Freedom what they are today, and building what we stand for. He played a great part, but we’re turning the page. To watch Dawson Gleaves at the Teams Combine and what he’s done and how he performs for the Rattlers, we are excited to have the youth and the fire that Dawson brings to bull riding.”


Gleaves joins the Freedom’s protected roster, which also includes Caden Bunch (Tahlequah, Oklahoma), Alex Cerqueira (Iguatemi, Brazil), Alisson de Souza (Taubate, Brazil), Elizmar Jeremias (Anapu, Brazil), Casey Roberts (Munford, Alabama) and Thiago Salgado (Navirai, Brazil), under the leadership of Head Coach McCoy and Assistant Coach and 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lostroh.


The 22-year-old joined the Rattlers for the 2023 season after being selected in the first round of this year’s PBR Teams Reserve Roster Draft. Just days after being selected, Gleaves won the weekly Challenger Series event in Fort Worth on May 25, which he followed with back-to-back runner-up finishes on June 1 and June 29 inside Cowtown Coliseum.


Gleaves made his league debut at the 2023 Camping World Team Series launch event in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in late July, delivering a mammoth 90-point ride atop JAG Metals Grand Theft to help the Rattlers defeat the reigning Champion Nashville Stampede. The game win was part of their 1-1 effort in the first games of the season, which led them to conclude the event third overall.


In the months since, Gleaves has been a consistent presence on the team’s roster, going 2-for-11 (18.185) to help the Rattlers rise to No. 2 in the league with a 10-9 overall record, a mere four games behind the No. 1 Austin Gamblers.


Vastbinder joins a talent-packed Rattlers protected roster, lead by Head Coach and PBR Co-Founder Cody Lambert, which includes: Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland, Australia), Daniel Keeping (Montague, Texas), Brady Oleson (Blackfoot, Idaho), Braidy Randolph (Stephenville, Texas) and Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil).


A foundational member of the Freedom, now three-time PBR World Finals qualifier and 2021 PBR Rookie of the Year Vastbinder was selected by Oklahoma in the first round of the inaugural 2022 PBR Teams Draft.


During the league’s inaugural season, Vastbinder went 12-for-30 (40%) for the Freedom and was a starting member of the Oklahoma line-up that became the first squad to win their PBR Teams homestand in history in September 2022.


Oklahoma concluded the first regular season for the PBR Camping World Team Series with a 16-12 record. In the playoffs, despite a Round 1 loss to the Nashville Stampede, when Vastbinder put up an 87.5-point ride atop Big Heart, the Freedom rallied in the Last Chance game to keep their hopes of a championship alive. Vastbinder again converted for the team, logging 89.5 points on Homer.


The Freedom then advanced to the Semifinals by beating the Carolina Cowboys, which included an 88-point ride from Vastbinder aboard Prime Tested. The Freedom then stumbled in their next two games, beaten by the Arizona Ridge Riders in the Semifinals, and the Texas Rattlers in the third-place game. Vastbinder concluded the season with a qualified ride, converting in the Third-Place game when he topped Happy Gambler for 86.75 points.


In the 2023 individual season, Vastbinder won his career-first Unleash The Beast event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, qualified for his third consecutive World Finals, and concluded the campaign No. 30 in the world.


During the 2023 PBR Teams season, the North Carolina native has gone 2-for-13 (15.38%), helping the Oklahoma Freedom to a league No. 4 rank with a combined 10-9 record.


For more information about Oklahoma Freedom, visit Freedom on Facebook, @OK_Freedom_ on Instagram, or @OKfreedom_ on Twitter.


For more information about Ariat Texas Rattlers, visit Rattlers on Facebook, or @TexasRattlers_ on Instagram and Twitter.


The PBR Camping World Team Series next travels to Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, for PBR Cowboy Days, the three-day homestand for the Carolina Cowboys, Sept. 22-24. Action begins at 7:45 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 22, 6:45 p.m. EDT on Saturday, September 23, and 1:45 p.m. EDT on Sunday, September 24.


PBR RidePass on Pluto TV will offer replays of all the PBR Camping World Team Series action from the 2023 season. Check for the latest programming schedule to relive the highlight reel worthy moments from this season thus far

About the Oklahoma Freedom:

The Oklahoma Freedom are based at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, joining team tenants including the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and their G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue, where the team held its second Freedom Fest homestand on September 8-10, 2023, the sixth event of the 10-event 2023 PBR Teams regular season. The Freedom are coached by Oklahoma native Cord McCoy, a retired bull rider and four-time qualifier for PBR World Finals, and 2009 PBR World Champion Kody Lostroh.


About the Ariat Texas Rattlers:

Under the leadership of General Manager, Chad Blankenship, the Ariat Texas Rattlers are coached by PBR co-founder Cody Lambert, and owned by the Fisher Family, founders of Gap Inc. and one of the founding team owners of PBR Teams. The Texas Rattlers team, based in Fort Worth, will host its Rattler Days homestand event October 6-8, 2023 at Dickies Arena, the last of the league’s 10-event 2023 regular season. Fisher Family investments include footwear and apparel, real estate, timberland and forest products, and education and sports, including ownership of the Oakland Athletics (MLB) and San Jose Earthquakes (MLS). Through its Ariat brand, the Official Boot of PBR, the Fisher family have been longtime supporters of PBR. The family is actively involved with a number of philanthropic causes, including SFMOMA, The KIPP Foundation, and UCSF.


About the PBR Camping World Team Series:

The PBR Camping World Team Series is an elite league featuring the world’s top bull riders competing on teams in five-on-five bull riding games during an 11-event season beginning in July and culminating in a Team Championship at T- Mobile Arena in Las Vegas October 20-22. During the 2023 season, the league’s second, each of the eight teams – Austin Gamblers of Austin, TX; Arizona Ridge Riders of Glendale, AZ; Carolina Cowboys of Greensboro, NC; Kanas City Outlaws of Kansas City, MO; Nashville Stampede of Nashville, TN; Oklahoma Freedom of Oklahoma City, OK; Missouri Thunder of Ridgedale, MO; and Texas Rattlers of Fort Worth, TX – will host a three-day homestand. There are also neutral-site games in Cheyenne, WY and Anaheim, CA.  The Nashville Stampede are the current 2022 defending champions.


The league format, which launched in July 2022, builds on the existing structure of professional bull riding with the same basic rules for judging and scoring qualified 8-second bull rides. In events staged in a tournament-style format, all teams compete in head-to-head matchups against a different opponent each day. Each game features five riders per team squaring off against another team. Full team rosters are comprised of seven riders on the Protected Roster and five Reserve riders. The team with the highest aggregate score of qualified rides among its riders is declared the winner of each game. The event winner is the team with the most game wins across an events. All PBR Team Series events are carried on either the CBS Television Network, streaming live on Paramount+, CBS Sports Network, or RidePass on Pluto TV.


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