December 5-14, 2024


Stetson Wright Reaction

Dec 11, 2023

Stetson Wright Reaction

By Patrick Everson

Over the weekend, a jolt of news hit the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Four-time defending all-around world champion Stetson Wright, battling a nasty hamstring injury, announced on social media Sunday that he was out for the final eight go-rounds.

Obviously, it was a tough decision for Wright, who tried to fight his way through the first two go-rounds of saddle broncs and bull riding. But his determination to even attempt to compete this week – in two very physical events – impressed his rough-stock peers.

“That guy is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, guys I’ve ever met,” bull rider Ky Hamilton said Monday night, after posting his second go-round win in four nights. “I’m trying to do what Stetson does, and that’s not quit. I’m trying to win how he’d win.”

Ky Hamilton in an interview after his go-round win in Bull Riding. | Photo by Patrick Everson

Hamilton, an Australian competing in his second Wrangler NFR, is certainly doing that. Perhaps that’s because he’s now become a good friend and traveling partner of Wright.

“That does wonders. I’m lucky to be able to feed off that mentality,” said Hamilton, who has vaulted to No. 1 in the bull riding world standings over the past four days.

Damian Brennan, another Australian, won Monday’s fourth go-round in saddle broncs. Afterward, much like Hamilton, he tipped his cowboy hat to Wright.

“Stetson is an absolute freak of the sport. He’s got the mentality like no one else. He’s a very special competitor, for sure,” Brennan said. “It sucks to see him hurt and in pain. Now, he just needs to get healed up and come back stronger than ever.”

Ky Hamilton in an interview after his go-round win in Saddle Bronc. | Photo by Patrick Everson

As a bareback rider, Leighton Berry doesn’t compete against Wright. But Berry – who won Monday’s fourth go-round – certainly knows the rigors of rough-stock events, and he was sad to see Wright forced to bow out early in the NFR.

“There are a few cowboys in this world – Ty Murray, Trevor Brazile – who we might as well call supermen. They’re just built differently,” Berry said, while putting Wright in that same company. “Stetson even showing up to compete this week kind of boggled our minds. He’s so cowboy that you know he’s always gonna show up and try.”

Berry, his rough-stock riding peers and the whole Wrangler NFR community certainly want Wright to get well quickly and get back in the saddle.

“I have a lot of respect for Stetson and the things he’s capable of doing,” Berry said. “Hopefully, God puts his healing hands on Stetson, and he can come back healthy next year.”