LOVINGTON, N.M. – Three-time world champion Sage Kimzey knows no lead in the regular season is big enough when the top cowboys get to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The No. 1 bull rider in the world wants to keep padding his lead as the 2017 campaign winds to a close. He did that by $11,987 on Tuesday night by winning both rounds and the average championship at Lea County Xtreme Bulls at Jake McClure Arena.
“You need as much money going into the finals as you can have,” said Kimzey, who pushed his ProRodeo earnings to $199,353. “A guy that wins the Xtreme Bulls (year-end) title has a pretty good shot of coming into the NFR pretty high.”
Besides being the No. 1 man in the world standings, the Strong City, Okla., man also is the top dog in the Xtreme Bulls money list. Of his season earnings, $58,560 has come on the stand-alone bull riding tour.
In Lovington, he rode Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Tin Cup for 89 points to win the first go-round. He followed that with an 87-point ride on Carr’s Black Gold.
“The first one just felt good,” said Kimzey, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday later this month. “He was just a good spinner to the left and was really smooth and had a lot of timing to him. The second bull was the opposite. He’s one of those that’s tough to get by. (Fellow bull rider) Tyler Bingham said he’s a tough bull to get by and bucks pretty high.
“It just cranks the RPMs a little higher. There’s something about getting on an 1,800-pound athlete; if you mess up, he can hurt you, and that really gets your motor running and gets your adrenaline going that much more.”
While he owns a lead of more than $40,000 over the No. 2 man, Garrett Smith, Kimzey knows that advantage can be swallowed up once the top 15 get to Las Vegas in December. With go-round winners earning $26,262 per night, Garrett could catch Kimzey before the start of Round 3. That’s why winning a big event like Lea County Xtreme Bulls is big.
“There are only a few of the top-notch events that I haven’t had the pleasure of winning event, and Lovington Xtreme was one of them,” he said. “Coming out to Lea County, I had one thing on my mind.”
In rodeo, Kimzey has made it known that one of his biggest goals is to win nine world championships to beat the record set by Donnie Gay, who rode in the 1970s and ’80s. Being healthy is important, but winning is just as vital.
“It’s important to be on a roll,” he said. “Confidence is important in bull riding. You can see the same bull riders ride 20 in a row then fall off 10 in a row. To have the ball rolling like it’s moving into the later part of the season is definitely a good feeling.”
Lea County Xtreme Bulls
Aug. 8, 2017
First round: 1. Sage Kimzey, 89 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Tin Cup, $3,447; 2. (tie) Trey Benton and Elliot Jacoby, 86, $2,298 each; 4. Dustin Bowen, 84.5, $1,264; 5. Brady Portenier, 83.5, $804; 6. Trevor Kastner, 83, $575; 7. Nate Perry, 82.5, $460; 8. (tie) Nolan Steen and Cole Melancon, 81, $172.
Championship round: 1. Sage Kimzey, 87 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Black Gold, $2,605; 2. Chase Dougherty, 86, $1,992; 3. Cole Melancon, 85.5, $1,456; 4. (tie) Trevor Kastner and Elliot Jacoby, 84.5, $804 each.
Average: 1. Sage Kimzey, 176 points on two rides, $4,746; 2. Elliot Jacoby, 170.5, $4,405; 3. Trevor Kastner, 167.5, $3,256; 4. Cole Melancon, 166.5, $2,107; 5. Chase Dougherty, 162, $1,341; 6. Trey Benton, 86 points on one ride, $958; 7. Dustin Bowen, 84.5, $766; 8. Brady Portenier, 83.5, $575.