12.10.2014
LAS VEGAS

 

Bull Rider Kimzey Looking Golden

 

Courtesy of PRCA

Sage Kimzey put another exclamation point on his amazing rookie season Wednesday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The 20-year-old bull riding sensation shared the Round 7 win with Elliot Jacoby before a sellout crowd of 17,528 at the Thomas & Mack Center. It was Kimzey's third round win of the Wrangler NFR - he won outright in Rounds 3 and 4 - and solidified his big leads in the world standings and average races.

Kimzey said moving closer to his dream of winning a gold buckle might keep him awake the next few nights.

"I won't be sleeping at all," he said. "It'll probably be me staring at my hotel room wall the next 72 hours when I try to sleep. But it's all going to be worth it in the end. This is the scenario I wanted coming into Vegas, to be leading and have a chance to win the world if I did my job, and it's been cool to see my dreams come true so far."

Kimzey is trying to become only the second bull rider to win the gold buckle and PRCA Resistol Rookie of the Year award in the same season. Bill Kornell accomplished the feat in 1963.

"We still have three more rounds, so I'll just keep pushing and hopefully finish the job," Kimzey said. "My mindset tonight was the same as every other night, which was to just stay on my bull. If I do that each night, I can't be too upset, and as long as I'm doing my job, I'm happy."

Kimzey, the last cowboy to compete in Round 7, rode for 86.5 points on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo's Haunted Mesa, after Jacoby had covered Hurst Pro Rodeo's Cactus Juice for the same score.
Kimzey said he was pleased to split the win with Jacoby.
"It's awesome getting to tie a great bull rider like Elliot for a round win," Kimzey said. "Vegas has never really seen the true Elliot Jacoby out here, and he kicks butt all year long to get here, so it's nice to see him have this success right here with me."

Jacoby's first NFR was last year, and he was relieved to claim his first round win.

"This has been a long time coming," he said. "I have the jitters out of the way now. The first time I was here, I didn't feel comfortable, but this time I've been a lot better. I want to be able to show everyone what I can do and ride these great bulls and make them look dumb. I can ride these bulls, and now I just have to prove it."

Rodeo royalty ruled the tie-down roping as six-time World Champion Cody Ohl and two-time champ Tuf Cooper shared the round win with a time of 7.3 seconds.

It was Ohl's 51st round win in tie-down roping, which tied saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer for the most ever in a single event.

"Every one of them are special," Ohl said. "I just can't wait until I get that record, and it's going to be very special. It's all my kids talk about, and it's going to be awesome."

Cooper leads the world standings by $33,111 over Matt Shiozawa, who leads the average with a time of 64.1 seconds on seven head. Cooper is second in the average with a time of 64.6 seconds.

"I just want to stay aggressive and win as much as I can," Cooper said. "It's a dream to win a round and a dream to win the average, and it's especially a dream to win the world title."

Spencer Wright, the youngest of the four Wright brothers competing at the Finals, again bested his siblings and the rest of the field when he rode Stace Smith Pro Rodeo's Pretty Boy for 85 points. Wright leads the average with 564.5 points on seven head and has climbed into the crowded group that is fighting for the gold buckle.

"I feel like I'm riding well and I've been lucky, too," Wright said. "I'd love to win the average and world titles; I mean, I don't want to be greedy, but that's what everybody who comes here wants to do. Hopefully, I've put myself in a position where I have a chance to win a world title."

He sits sixth in the world standings with $129,972, and the average winner collects another $48,732.

Cort Sheer took over the world standings lead, though, by taking second place in the round and earning $15,018. He has $156,049 and is second in the average with 550 points on seven head; second place in the average pays $39,537.

Wright brothers took three of the top four spots in the round, as Jake Wright was third and Jesse Wright, the 2012 world champ, was fourth to earn his first check of the Finals.

Spencer Wright, who is competing at his first WNFR, praised his brothers for influencing his success.

"I couldn't ask for better hands to help me learn the ropes here," he said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my brothers for the reasons I'm here, and for me having success here. Those guys helped me so much going down the road, and with my bronc riding. I'm very appreciative of them."

Cody Wright suffered a dislocated left (riding arm) shoulder, and had to pass on a re-ride option. He was transported to a local emergency room and is doubtful to compete in Thursday's Round 8.

Also winning for the second time - he also claimed the buckle in Round 5 - was bareback rider Richmond Champion. He rode for 86 points on his first time aboard Three Hills Rodeo's Angel Eyes.

"It's a dream come true, and it just keeps getting better," Champion said. "It's incredible, it's insane. I didn't expect it. I had goals coming in, but I didn't picture round buckles, because I had the end goal in mind of winning the world."

The happy-go-lucky 22-year-old from The Woodlands, Texas, said he's enjoying the lights of Las Vegas and being in the spotlight.
"I'm just having fun," Champion said. "Sometimes you do better when you don't worry about it. I'm just enjoying the experience, and I'm loving it."

He said the trip on Angel Eyes was fast and furious.
"I heard the horse was good, and I'd seen her once," he said. "I remember Tim O'Connell won on her in Omaha (Neb.) at the (Wrangler) Champions Challenge, but I couldn't picture it until I got on. She's a semi-eliminator."

Champion was up third in the event, and nervously watched while the best bareback riders in the world tried to beat his score.
"When you go so early in the perf, you never get comfortable," he said, "not with those two guys at the end (Bobby Mote and Kaycee Feild) and with so many world champs riding after me."

Mote and Feild tied for fourth in the round, and while Feild moved up a spot to third in the average, he failed to gain on Mote, who leads the average with 572 points on seven head. Feild, who is chasing his fourth straight average title and fourth consecutive gold buckle, has a score of 566.5 points on seven head. Feild comfortably leads the world standings with $208,243 - that's $42,771 ahead of second-place Austin Foss.

Team ropers Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves came through under pressure - they were the last team to leave the box - and won the round in 3.7 seconds.

Bird said that "6.5 was winning fourth in the round when we backed in there, so I thought about what Joe Beaver always says when you go at the end of a round like this - 'just use your head and catch.' But I got a good start and things happened so fast, so I tried it on him. We're out of the average, so we have no choice but to win as much as we can in the rounds. That's how we roll anyway."

"Dustin does it about like that every time," Eaves said. "That's what I get to throw at everywhere we go. He got it on him fast and gave me a great handle. That's the run we try to make all the time. It's just a little faster than usual in this smaller building."

Bird and Eaves both sit second in the world standings, but they're 11th in the average (at 30.6 seconds on only four head). Good news is they've pocketed $53,023 at the Finals.

"This is the most we've ever won here, and there are still three rounds left," Eaves said. "This is more than we'd won after 10 rounds the other two years we roped together here."

Taking over the average lead were world standings leaders Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill, as previous leaders Jake Barnes and Junior Nogueira went out after Barnes lost his rope.

Canadian steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy, who won Round 5, shared the Round 7 victory lap with Dakota Eldridge, who lives nearby in Elko, Nev. They each had a time of 3.7 seconds and pocketed $17,010 for the win.

"The other guys that had him, he wanted to let off pretty good, and I had such a good start tonight, he was stopping," Cassidy said. "Luckily, he jumped forward as I caught him, and he stopped and I jumped around there.

Cassidy has won $43,981 at the WNFR and is fifth in the world standings with $101,431.

This was just Eldridge's second check at the 2014 Finals - it's the second WNFR for the 23-year-old - but he hopes for a fast finish.

"Last year I won $91,000 here," he said. "I'm going to have to start doing some catching up the next few days and I started it out right. I haven't had the week I wanted, but a guy can't get down. I just have to stay positive and start drawing good, and things will be good the rest of the week."

Four-time World Champion Luke Branquinho tied for third in the round with Casey Martin with a time of 3.9 seconds. Branquinho tops the world standings with $138,630 - he's won $72,638 here through seven rounds - and leads the steer wrestling average with a time of 28.5 seconds on seven head; Martin is second with 33.0 seconds on seven head.

Barrel racer Lisa Lockhart, who won Round 2, took another victory lap after she won the event with a time of 13.73 seconds, the second fastest time at this year's WNFR. Lockhart was the first to compete in the event, and said it was beneficial.

"I do think running at the top helped some tonight," she said. "It did seem that some of the horses were struggling a bit, so being first proved to be the time to ride smart and take advantage of that position."

Fallon Taylor, who took second, leads the world standings with $218,821 - that's $26,558 more than Lockhart. Taylor leads the average with a time of 103.08 seconds, just .06 ahead of Lockhart.
Kimzey leads the RAM Top Gun Award standings with $96,391. Taylor is second with $87,350, followed by Branquinho with $72,638 and Lockhart with $70,646. Spencer Wright is fifth at $68,807.

The 56th annual Wrangler NFR continues Thursday with the eighth 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.