Cody and Jesse Wright take sibling rivalry to great heights in bronc riding
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a story for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for March 29-April 1 in Oklahoma City. For more information, go HERE.
OKLAHOMA CITY – For the bronc riding Wright brothers from Utah, there’s much more to family than the world of rodeo.
That just happens to be the avenue by which they are best known. It’s also the arena by which they excel the most.
Cody Wright is a two-time world champion (2008 and 2010) who won the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo average two Decembers ago. Jesse Wright is a two-time national finalist who shattered the saddle bronc riding average record this past December. They’re just two of the siblings who are part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
They’re also two of the 24 qualifiers to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for March 29-April 1 at Jim Norick Arena at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. This is ProRodeo’s National Championship, where the very best competitors in the sport earn the right to play for one of the largest purses in the sport, more than $525,000.
“There’s a lot of money added, and they usually bring great horses to that event,” Cody Wright said. “They have a lot of money added there, and you have a chance to win that. It’s just as tough as any rodeo you go to. You just hope you draw right.”
The event provides another prestigious championship event for rodeo-savvy Oklahoma City, the longtime host of the NFR and the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. The 2012 event marks the second straight year the RNCFR is part of Oklahoma’s storied rodeo legacy, a place that knows what makes a true champion.
The event pits the top cowboys and cowgirls from the 12 regional ProRodeo circuits against one another for the prestigious national title. Contestants will compete in seven traditional rodeo events: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding.
Both Cody and Jesse Wright know a lot about the event. Cody is a seven-time qualifier, and Jesse has won the last two saddle bronc riding national championships. Even though big brother owns two Montana Silversmiths gold buckles, Jesse Wright is the man to in Oklahoma City.
“I’ve had good luck, I guess,” Jesse Wright said. “I’ve drawn the right horses.”
So what’s it going to take to win the coveted title for a third straight year?
“I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing, staying positive, keeping in shape and practicing,” he said. “It’s panning out pretty good.”
Yes, it is. In 2009, he was named the PRCA Resistol Saddle Bronc Riding Rookie of the Year. In 2010, he finished the regular season 16th in the world standings, then advanced to the NFR as an injury replacement. In Las Vegas that December, Jesse Wright won a go-round and placed in seven others, moving up fifth in the final world standings.
This past December, he stepped it up a notch … or more. He won four go-rounds and placed in three others, earning $161,000 during his 10-night performance in the Nevada desert. It’s a distinct sign of great athletic talent, but Jesse Wright knows he can’t discount the lessons learned by his big brother.
Cody Wright was 12 years old when his mother gave birth to his twin brothers, Jesse and Jake. Actually, Cody is the oldest of seven brothers – all but the youngest, Stuart, are saddle bronc riders in the PRCA. Now most of them travel the rodeo circuit together. It all adds up to a winning legacy.
“It’s always good to go with family,” Jesse Wright said. “It makes it easier.”
It helps, too, that Big Brother has qualified for the NFR each of the past nine seasons. Cody also has been a fixture at the RNCFR over the course of his career.
“It’s always been a good rodeo, but last year in Oklahoma City I thought it was a real good rodeo,” Cody Wright said. “Any time you can qualify for the finals, it’s an honor. I feel lucky and blessed that I get to be one of them.”