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Kimzey brothers make NFR family affair

In 1990, just the sixth year that the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was held at the Thomas & Mack Center, brothers Philip and David Fournier both qualified in bull riding. Twenty-eight more Wrangler NFRs came and went without siblings matching that feat.

That streak came awfully close to reaching 29 years. In fact, it came down to the last day of the PRCA’s regular season, Sept. 28, at the Comal County Fair & Rodeo Xtreme Bulls in New Braunfels, Texas.

Sage Kimzey, the five-time bull riding world champion, was miles ahead of the pack in the 2019 world standings, so the 25-year-old’s place in Las Vegas was more than secure. But 20-year-old little brother Trey Kimzey, in his rookie year, took it right down to the wire to crack the top 15 and punch his ticket to the Thomas & Mack Center.

“Literally the season ended that night,” Trey said. “I had $1,500 that I had to win.”

To that point, Trey had season earnings of $104,209, 16th in the world standings, with Parker Breding 15th at $105,746. He didn’t necessarily have to win the round, but he definitely needed to cash a good check with a high finish. Trey put all matters to rest with a winning ride of 89.5 points on Whamma Jamma to pocket $3,952.

“The whole year, that was the goal, for both of us to be here,” Trey said after the seventh go-round Wednesday night. “I was in the top 15 all year, but I got bumped out in the last month. That last week was the time to either do it or not.”

Sage was certainly glad it turned out to be the former.

“I guess the only reaction I had was that I was so happy for him. Trey worked as hard, if not harder, than anyone else,” Sage said. “It’s pretty cool, honestly. There aren’t many times that brothers make it to the biggest stage in rodeo, or the biggest stage in anything.”

The double achievement capped an enjoyable season for the Kimzey brothers, who traveled together much of the year. One would think that Sage is the calm in the middle of the bull riding storm, with five straight Wrangler NFR appearances, each ending with a world title. But Trey’s presence this year really helped Sage, who is likely to wrap up a record sixth straight title when Saturday night’s 10th go-round comes to a close.

“Blood is thicker than water,” Sage said, leaning on the cliché. “Having Trey there brings a level of calmness to me. I’m more calm this year.”

Meanwhile, Trey got to travel with all that championship-caliber experience in the cab. Bull riding is obviously a very physical sport, but Trey tapped Sage for more than riding tips.

“Honestly, I think it’s the whole mental side of it. I’d say the mental game is 85 to 90 percent of bull riding,” Trey said. “Obviously, Sage’s mental game is at an all-time peak. I try to learn off of that, pick up what I can.”

That’s exactly the kind of wisdom Sage hoped to impart.

“The thing I think I help Trey with the most is just keeping a level head,” Sage said. “It’s not exactly like there’s a handbook out here for growing up quickly.”

NFR back and bigger than ever after 1-year absence

After a one-year absence from Las Vegas, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo returns for its 36th run at the Thomas Mack Center. The NFR begins tonight and runs through Dec. 11.

How to watch NFR in Las Vegas

Rodeo’s championship event, the National Finals Rodeo, returns to Las Vegas this year after a one-year hiatus in Arlington, Texas because of local COVID restrictions.