CHEYENNE – Sage Kimzey is the biggest name in bull riding today, and maybe even in all of rodeo.
The Strong Bow, Oklahoma, cowboy already draws the attention of every pair of eyes in the arena once he lowers himself into a chute and onto the back of whichever bull he’s about to ride to his next big paycheck.
But Kimzey was set to take on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Rebelution, who has yet to be ridden this year, hyping up his first ride of the 121st Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo even more.
If anyone could break Rebelution’s buck-off streak that stands at eight, surely it would be the three-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion.
But he never even got the chance.
Instead, Kimzey rode Smith, Harper and Morgan’s Fantastic that is seeing competition for the first time in four years, and made its 2017 debut last weekend at the Ogden Pioneer Days in Utah.
“He’s a young bull, and this is a big stage for a young bull like that to be on,” Kimzey said.
Kimzey had trouble with the bull in the chute and rode him to a score of 72. As soon as he got to his feet, he began to plead his case with the judges to be granted a re-ride.
His words fell on deaf ears as the judges weren’t swayed one bit by the bull rider’s words.
“The 72, it’s just ... you’re looking at a borderline re-ride right there, especially with how good the bulls are here in Cheyenne,” Kimzey said.
Still, Kimzey has a strong chance at making it back for the Championship on Sunday.
Only one bull rider, Cody Teel, has stayed on two bulls and posted a two-head score.
And while Kimzey knows his 72 won’t win him any money for the first go-round, he also understands what he does today can put him in a position to come away with a coveted CFD buckle – one he’s had his eyes set on for quite some time now.
“If you stay on three, you’re going to win a pile of money in Cheyenne. (The 72) kind of limits my chances on winning it this year, but bull riding is a tough sport, and you never know what’s going to happen,” Kimzey said. “I’ve just got to stay on all my bulls and let the chips fall.”
There were a good number of competitors on hand Friday who have earned CFD buckles before.
K.C. Jones of Decatur, Texas, has a pair of buckles in his trophy case, having won the 2011 all-around and 2014 steer wrestling buckles. He won’t have a chance to add to his collection, though, after posting a no-time in his first run in steer wrestling.
Heeler Cesar de la Cruz of Tucson, Arizona, won titles in 2006 and 2010. Cruz and header Hayes Smith of Central Point, Oregon, recorded a 10.3-second run Friday and will need an even faster time today to secure a spot in the finals.
Trevor Brazile of Decatur, Texas, and Patrick Smith of Lipan, Texas, won CFD team roping in 2012 and posted an 11.1 in their first run.
Brazile also won tie-down roping in 2014.
He completed his first run in 12.2 seconds, and will need a similar or faster time to make it back Sunday.
Header Chad Masters won a CFD buckle in 2009, and the Cedar Hill, Tennessee, cowboy and his roping partner, Travis Graves of Jay, Oklahoma, gave themselves a chance to make the final 12 with a 9.8-second run in the first go.
Wheatland, Wyoming, cowboy Seth Brockman came away with a steer wrestling title in 2005. He will have to wait another year to try for his second CFD buckle as he posted a no-time on his first run.
Last year’s barrel racing champion, Tillar Murray of Fort Worth, Texas, has been battling a back injury and had a tough run Friday when she knocked over a barrel and had to settle for a 23.71, knocking her out of contention for a repeat title.
Taos Muncy of Corono, New Mexico, won a CFD buckle in 2007 but would need a record-setting ride to be invited back Sunday after his score of 69 on Friday.
Two recently crowned college champs had some troubles competing alongside the pros Friday.
Cole Melancon of Liberty, Texas, won the College National Finals Rodeo bull riding title last month in Casper, but was unable to stay on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Hacksaw Ridge.
Hailey Kinsel of Cotulla, Texas, won herself a barrel racing title last month at the CNFR, and looked to be on her way to a fast run at Frontier Park Arena. But she and her horse, Sister, took the third barrel too wide, and she had to settle for an 18.27 second run. With an aggregate of 36.37, Kinsel won’t be back for the finals.