Every rodeo season has its ups and downs, and rookie bull rider Sage Kimzey is fully aware of that fact.
The cowboy from Strong City, Okla., is back in action after having to sit out a few weeks nursing an injured groin earlier this month. Kimzey, who also lost time this summer resting a sore riding arm, suffered the injury at the Lovington, N.M., Xtreme Bulls stop on Aug. 5 and sat out until the Champions Challenge event in Kennewick, Wash., on Aug. 19.
The groin injury was a pesky detour for Kimzey, who didn’t have much choice but to sit on the sidelines and let it heal.
“It’s pretty much just a sit around and wait game,” said Kimzey, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Tuesday. “I’d pulled a groin when I was younger, but nothing as extreme as this was. I took a couple weeks off and came back, and everything’s good.
“I’m wrapping it and putting compression on it, but it feels totally fine now.”
The talented bull rider proved he is back and ready to go by winning the Xtreme Bulls Division 2 event in Bremerton, Wash., on Aug. 20. He rode Growney Brothers Rodeo’s Shin Bone Alley for 85.5 points to win the short round and pocketed $2,977 after finishing as the only cowboy with two qualified rides.
“I had two good ones,” Kimzey said of his draws in Bremerton. “Everything was a little bit fast at the Kennewick Champions Challenge since it was my first event back. At Bremerton, (my timing) was a little bit fast on the first bull, but after I rode him, it was like riding a bike again. You don’t forget how to do it.”
Dealing with the injuries has been a nuisance, but Kimzey doesn’t view his summer as frustrating or a disappointment.
“It’s not been so much of a frustrating summer, but all of the events just came back to back to back, and then I had (issues) with my arm and groin,” said Kimzey, who has also placed in Rapid City, S.D., and won a CBR event since returning from the groin injury. “It hasn’t been a frustrating summer, just a slower one than what I had planned. But, you just keep going.”
Four-time World Champion J.W. Harris has caught the front-running Kimzey in the world standings and headed into the last week of August with a $14,295 lead over the rookie. Despite relinquishing the top spot to the future Hall of Famer, Kimzey – who has $107,218 in season earnings – hasn’t been disheartened by recent developments.
“It really doesn’t bother me,” he said of losing the world standings lead. “It’s really overwhelming and prestigious just to have your name on top of the leaderboard at all, but it doesn’t bother me that I’m sitting second now.”
With roughly a month left to earn money for the 2014 season, many contestants are hitting the road full-time in last-dash efforts to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo or improve their rank in the world standings. The level-headed Kimzey, however, is taking a different approach.
“I’m actually taking this last part of the season pretty chill and not going to too many,” he said. “There’s too much money at the Finals to really worry about a couple thousand here or there. So, I’m just taking these last couple months pretty easy, being easier on my body and picking and choosing where I go.”
Kimzey knows December’s Wrangler NFR will be where gold buckles will be decided, and he’s going to spend the remaining months between now and then staying sharp and preparing for the 10-day spectacle.
“I don’t know that anything will matter once I get out there (to Las Vegas), as far as being run down,” he said. “It’s an ultimate dream come true, and I’d say that if I was a little tired or beat down from the road, that place would probably fix it. It’s all going to come down to 10 rounds in Vegas.”