Kimzey Grabs Gold; Brazile Looks for More


Courtesy of the PRCA

On a night when the King of the Cowboys reigned yet again, a young star also was crowned.

The incomparable Trevor Brazile won the team roping with heeling partner Travis Graves, then shared the tie-down roping win with Matt Shiozawa for a memorable Round 8 at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

No cowboy had won two events in one night at the WNFR since Jesse Bail won the bull riding and shared the win in saddle bronc riding in Round 4 in 2001. It's happened 11 times in the 56 years of the Finals that a cowboy won two events in one night.

A sellout crowd of 17,811 at the Thomas & Mack Center was thrilled by Brazile - who has won a record 21 world championships - and also delighted in the performance of 20-year-old rookie Sage Kimzey, who clinched the bull riding gold buckle.

"To reach the pinnacle of ProRodeo in my first year is pretty special," Kimzey said. "It's unlike anything I've ever experienced."

He's just the second bull rider to win Rookie of the Year and the gold buckle in the same season. Bill Kornell did it in 1963.

Kimzey placed third in the round - Jordan Spears was the winner - and is the only bull rider to ride seven bulls in eight attempts at this Finals; Joe Frost is next with five. So Kimzey is close to clinching the average title - something Kornell didn't do in 1963. For Kimzey not to win the average, he'd have to be bucked off twice and Frost would have to average 88 points on his next two rides.

"There are very few times when you can get in a zone like this,"

Kimzey said. "Baseball players always refer to it as seeing a beach ball coming toward you, and it's slow and you know exactly where it's going. I feel like there's nothing that can throw me off."

Spears, who is a Finals rookie, was equally thrilled.

"This was a dream come true," he said. "To be able to set a goal as a little kid and then achieve it is something special. Being here and competing against people I look up to like J.W. Harris, I feel really blessed. To ride to the best of my ability and win tonight makes me ecstatic, and I'm so excited to be here to experience Las Vegas for the first time."

Brazile, who has 45 Finals qualifications (which ties him for that record with Tee Woolman), knows all about the spotlight. He won the steer roping gold buckle last month and clinched his 12th consecutive all-around world championship in Round 3 of the WNFR, and still has a chance to win two other titles - which would be unprecedented.

Brazile sits third in the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings in tie-down roping and third in the average. In team roping, he's second in the world and third in the average.

"Trevor's the king," Graves said. "He's a great competitor, and it's an honor to get to rope with him. We've had a blast this year. He's a great partner all the way around. You couldn't ask for a better partner. He's a great competitor and a great person, and he has a great work ethic."

Brazile remains focused on the final two rounds.

"We've come a long ways, but we still have a long way to go," he said. "Two rounds doesn't sound like much when you say it fast, but there's still a lot of rodeo left."

Brazile and Graves have each won $159,632 in team roping. Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill lead the world with $160,292 and also lead the average; they're the only team to record a time in all eight rounds, while Brazile and Graves are among three teams to post a time in seven rounds.

Brazile has won $153,768 in the tie-down roping event this year, and is third in the average with a time of 75.2 seconds on eight head. Two-time World Champion Tie-down Roper Tuf Cooper - who is Brazile's brother-in-law - leads the world standings with $181,662 and is second in the average with a time of 72.6 seconds on eight head. Shiozawa is second in the world standings with $165,561, and first in the average with a time of 70.9 seconds on eight head.

"There's no secret in tie-down," Brazile said. "I have to blast. I have to do all I can do every night. I'm the one having to catch up, not sustain. It obviously makes it more fun. What people don't understand when you come out here with a lead to protect (is that) there are just some things you have to do, and sometimes it's not the glamorous way to rope. You're just tending to business and I've done that a lot out here. It's always more fun to be the underdog."

Shiozawa has been consistently fast all year, but said luck could help determine the champ.

"The draw is going to play a factor in it some, and you're going to have to draw good and use what you get," Shiozawa said. "Overall, the next two sets of calves should be good. If you can't look forward to this, then you're missing it."

Brazile has earned $421,271 in 2014, the fourth highest total in ProRodeo history. It's the fifth time in history for a contestant to surpass $400,000 - and each time it's been by Brazile. His record for annual earnings is $507,921 in 2010.

Bareback rider Austin Foss is making it hard on Kaycee Feild, who is chasing a fourth consecutive gold buckle and a fourth straight WNFR average title. Foss won for the second time in three rounds - he also claimed Round 6 - and pulled within $27,752 of Feild, who's the world standings leader.

Foss rode Beutler & Son Rodeo's Black Kat for 85.5 points to top the field and jump from fourth to first in the average race. The winner of the average earns an additional $48,732.

Feild is third in the average, which would earn him $31,262.

Brimming with confidence, Foss said he can knock off the reigning champ.

"Anything's possible. I'm set on one thing and one thing only," Foss said. "There's not much of a gap in the world standings and it pays ($19,002) to win a round. I just want to put two and two together and see what happens.

"It's my job to take him down. This is about my goals, my dreams, and what I'm living for."

He smiled, and added, "I hope it's out with the old and in with the new."

Foss has won $61,758 in eight rounds of this Finals, and said it's a bit mind-boggling.

"To be in this position and talk about that kind of money is something a lot of people my age (22) will never get to do," he said. "It's a blessing and an honor and a privilege."

This is Foss' second trip to the WNFR, and he said it's a different feeling.
"It's a different game the second year you come here," he said. "The first year is fun, and you kind of take it all in. The second one is all business."

Heith DeMoss regained the world standings lead by winning his first round of the Finals when he rode for 84 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo's Vitalix Hell's Fire Hostage.

"I couldn't be any happier than I am, and that's exactly what I needed," DeMoss said. "I've been drawing good horses and riding decent the first seven nights, but tonight I drew a good horse and finally rode really well."

DeMoss has $163,833 while Cort Scheer is second with $156,049 and Taos Muncy is third in the world championship race with $141,437. Lurking in fourth place with $140,412 is WNFR rookie Spencer Wright, who also leads the average with 647 points on eight head. Scheer, with 624.5 points, is the only other saddle bronc rider to have eight qualified rides.

Two-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Cody Wright doctor released from Round 8 - the rule requires him to also miss the following round - due to a dislocated left (riding) shoulder he suffered during Round 7. It's not certain if Wright, who sat fourth in the world and third in the average after Round 7, will compete in Round 10.

Wright, who won gold buckles in 2008 and 2010, was one of only three saddle bronc riders to earn a score in the first seven rounds, so he was in hunt for the average title before being injured; he won the WNFR average in 2010.

Kyle Irwin grabbed at least a share of his third round win, as he tied Ty Erickson for first place in Round 8 with a time of 3.7 seconds. Irwin split the Round 2 win and took Round 3 outright; he's won $57,927 in his first WNFR.

"This is great and in a humble way, I always thought if I got here I could do some good because I like to go fast and this is a fast setup," Irwin said. "It's been a great experience and I'm lovin' it."

Erickson, also competing in his first Finals, was thrilled to take his first victory lap and earn a trip to the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa for the go-round buckle presentation.

"I couldn't be happier right now," Erickson said. "My first Finals and I get to make a trip out to the South Point. It's exciting. I just had a good steer. I've been kind of late a couple times this week, and tonight I finally got a good start and made a good run on the ground."

Barrel racer Mary Walker, the 2012 world champion, claimed her first round win of this Finals with a time of 13.79 seconds.

"It's been a bit frustrating this week because I have hit so many barrels," Walker said. "Tonight I did a bit change, which I have never done before, but I talked to my friend (former WNFR qualifier) Sue Smith and she gave me a few suggestions of things to try and it all seemed to work. I am just so glad that things turned around and I was able to get this win."

Lisa Lockhart placed second in the round in 13.81. Lockhart is second in the world and moved within $11,540 of world leader Fallon Taylor.

Lockhart leads the average with a time of 116.95 seconds, and Taylor is second with 117.10.
Kimzey leads the RAM Top Gun Award standings with $107,731. Taylor is second with $87,350, followed by Lockhart with $85,664 and Spencer Wright at $80,147.

The 56th annual Wrangler NFR continues Friday with the ninth round at the Thomas & Mack Center. The action will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Net (DirecTV channel 221 and DISH Network channel 158) from 7-10 p.m. (PT) with hosts Jeff Medders and Butch Knowles.