Battered Kimzey trying to stay sharp before Finals

Sometimes, it’s tough being a bull rider.

Rookie world standings leader Sage Kimzey was reminded of that this past weekend, when a bull not-so-nicely stepped on his head at a CBR event in Mercedes, Texas. The 20-year-old Oklahoman has been enjoying a more relaxed October, where he’s been getting on a couple bulls a week to stay sharp, but definitely didn’t enjoy his recent run-in.

“I got stepped on the back of my head, chipped a few teeth and all sorts of good stuff,” said Kimzey, who leads the world standings with $143,165. “It was the full meal deal. I’ll definitely take some time off for this injury and let it heal up, but I’ll keep getting on bulls all the way up until the Finals.”

Kimzey plans to find a balance between resting and riding a bull or two each week for the remainder of October and November.

“I’ve just been getting on a few bulls a week and taking it easy until the NFR,” he said. “I want to be on top of my game whenever I get out there.”

Sage Kimzey leads the bull riding world standings heading into this year's Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Sage Kimzey leads the bull riding world standings heading into this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Kimzey’s road to a possible world title recently got a bit easier after four-time and reigning World Champion J.W. Harris was forced to forfeit more than $47,000 from his official earnings after failing to meet the PRCA’s minimum rodeo rule of 40. As a result, Harris fell from third to sixth in the standings and now trails Kimzey by $65,858 heading into the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Kimzey was just as surprised to hear about the development as anyone.

“I thought that was crazy,” he said. “I don’t know if he miscounted or what, but I thought it was pretty wild he didn’t get all of his rodeos. On the flip side of that, I think it’s pretty impressive a guy can win that much money without going to 40 rodeos. It was a bad deal, but it is what it is.”

Harris is someone Kimzey respects and looks up to, so he wishes circumstances were different.

“I wish he’d gotten to count his money,” Kimzey said. “The spirit of competition between us and Trey (Benton III) is really strong, and everybody who’s going to be at the Finals wants to compete against everybody. We want everybody to have their best shot to win, and the fact that he doesn’t get to count all of his money stinks.

“In a way, it’s going to hurt the competition at the Finals with him being so far down instead of right in the thick of things for the title race.”

Kimzey knows he still has a job to do – especially with Benton III trailing him by only $17,618 – and that Harris will be especially motivated once the rodeo begins on Dec. 4.

“My job’s still the same,” he said. “He’ll be ready to win. He always is. We better not stump our toe too bad.”

Sage Kimzey, shown here riding at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, has been working to stay sharp for the Wrangler NFR, but recently hit a snag when he was stepped on by a bull.  --PRCA ProRodeo photo by James Phifer

Sage Kimzey, shown here riding at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, has been working to stay sharp for the Wrangler NFR, but recently hit a snag when he was stepped on by a bull. –PRCA ProRodeo photo by James Phifer

Until that battle begins, Kimzey is enjoying some time off as he works to stay healthy and keep the rust off.

“It’s been awesome just getting to hang out at the house with my buddies and not have to worry about just absolutely grinding going down the road 24/7,” he said. “It’s been pretty great getting a bunch of days off. I’ve enjoyed it a bunch.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth 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.

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