A healthy Sage Kimzey is pretty darn good.
The 20-year-old rookie from Strong City, Okla., has been on a tear lately since recovering from a groin injury that forced him to the sidelines. Kimzey has banked nearly $36,000 since late August to wrestle the world standings lead away from four-time World Champion J.W. Harris.
This past weekend, Kimzey put $6,875 in the bank after winning the Division II Xtreme Bulls event in Oklahoma City thanks to scores of 87 and 92, and that was just his most recent big haul. He won the New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo, which ran from Sept. 12-19, with an 89-pointer on Cervi Brothers’ Wolverine Construction Ringo that put $5,189 in his pocket.
On Aug. 30, Kimzey stuck Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Wild Eyes for 89 points to win the final round of the Xtreme Bulls Tour Finale in Ellensburg, Wash., a ride that earned him the event’s overall title and $15,052 for his efforts. He also won $2,593 in Pendleton, Ore., won rodeos in Spokane, Wash., and Blackfoot, Idaho, for $1,000-plus checks and earned another $1,711 at the Division II Xtreme Bulls event in Lewiston, Idaho.
Since Aug. 30, Kimzey has raked in $35,947 and an abundance of confidence, to boot.
“When you’re healthy, it’s pretty easy to have success,” Kimzey said. “I struggled with those injuries for a while and hadn’t really hit any big licks for a while, so going to Ellensburg, winning the Finale and winning $15,000 just put everything back into motion and kick-started it.”
That ride in Ellensburg on Wild Eyes was the catalyst for Kimzey’s late-season charge, and he had a feeling he would get along well with the bucking beast.
“I’d seen him around for the last year-and-a-half or so and saw him at the (Wrangler National) Finals, and I thought he’d fit me well,” Kimzey said. “He’s just a great bull.
“Winning the Xtreme Bulls Finale was definitely one of the highlights of my year.”
Kimzey also knew a bit about his draw in New Mexico.
“I’ve seen him a lot, too,” he said. “He was on the (PBR’s) Built Ford Tough Series for a while, and he’s been a great bull ever since he came out. I was really looking forward to him when I got there, and it worked out.”
Being healthy and drawing well is a great combination for any bull rider, and Kimzey has enjoyed both aspects the last month. He continued to draw well in Oklahoma City en route to the title.
Kimzey’s 87 came on D&H Cattle’s Savage Moves, and he and Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Ninety Proof combined for 92 points in the short round.
“They were another couple of great bulls,” Kimzey said of his Division II draws. “The one in the short round, I’d been looking forward to (getting on) for a while, and the other one was a good young bull. They’re just good bulls to draw and the kind that give you a chance to win something.
“If you get a good bull, that’s half your score.”
After the regular season concludes, Kimzey will begin to taper off his schedule in October and November to rest up for his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“We have a few events in October like the All-American Finals and circuit finals, so October will be semi-busy,” he said. “But November, I’ll pretty much have it all off. So, I’ll have some time to recuperate from the year.”
Kimzey’s big three weeks put him at $143,165 for the season, $18,133 ahead of Harris with one week left in the season. His big hits couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It was a much-needed time coming off that injury, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Kimzey said. “Any time you can win that much money in a couple weeks, it’s always good, especially at the time of the year it came. I feel really good about my bull riding heading into the end of the season and heading into the NFR.”
This is the fifth in a series of monthly articles featuring Sage Kimzey and his path toward the Wrangler NFR. Each month, NFR Insider Neal Reid will catch up with Kimzey to talk about his progress, successes and setbacks as the rodeo season marches on. Stay tuned for more about Kimzey.