OAKLAND, Calif. – The second half of the 2014 Built Ford Tough Series was turning into a two-month long bout of frustration for Stormy Wing prior to this weekend’s Kawasaki Strong Battle at the Bay.
Buckoff after buckoff the 25-year-old bull rider would drag his bull rope back to the locker room in frustration and disgust.
While every bull rider will admit professional bull riding comes with its ups and downs, that doesn’t mean getting slammed to the ground week after week is any fun.
Yet, despite his budding frustration, Wing knew he would eventually break out of his 1-for-9 slump.
He can now kiss all of that frustration goodbye following one of the best performances of his career in Oakland as he picked up his first career win in his fifth year on the BFTS.
“I was frustrated because when I show up I expect to win every time and when you don’t and you start getting thrown off those bulls that is what it is,” Wing said. “You have to not let that stuff get to you and you have to stay mentally positive. It is the hardest thing to do.”
The pressure was certainly on Wing when he climbed into the bucking chute at Oracle Arena. After covering his first two bulls of the weekend, he had to sit back and watch Jason Malone, Billy Robinson and Joao Ricardo Vieira all cover their championship round bulls and leapfrog him from the top position.
It was quite simple for Wing.
All he had to do was ride, which he ended up doing with the poise of veteran who was no in shape or way intimidated by the situation.
Wing capped off his first BFTS win by riding Mr. Bull for 90.75 points in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Saturday evening.
The 25-year-old jumped off the bull, sprinted to the right side of the arena, flexed his muscles and pointed to a small contingent of close friends sitting in section 101.
“I knew that win was coming,” Wing said. “It was just a matter of when.”
Sitting in section 101 was family friend Joey DeCosta, whose son Josh played high school football with Wing at Dalhart High School.
Joey and a group of Wing supporters were going wild for their Dalhart, Texas, bull rider when he selected Mr.Bull in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round bull draft. DeCosta has traveled to other BFTS events to see Wing, including the Sacramento, California, BFTS event.
“It is awesome to know that people are coming out there to root you on and they believe in you,” Wing said. “They are just celebrating with me. It is awesome. It is badass. I couldn’t ask for anything better other than having my little girl, Suede Marie, here with me.”
Wing had one of his strongest idols supporting him on the back of the chutes as he tried to hold on to every counter Mr. Bull threw at him. 2013 World Champion J.B. Mauney could be seen on the back of the bucking chutes cheering on his fellow bull rider harder than any of the Top 35 bull riders in the world.
The two have supported each other throughout their careers and even shared a small portion of the locker room together in Oakland.
Having that much support only pushed Wing to seal the deal on Saturday after previously winning Round 1 on Game Over (87.75 points) during Friday’s portion of the two-night event and riding Rudolph for 86.5 points in Round 2 on Saturday.
“It is awesome,” he said. “I wouldn’t have anybody else. He is one of my heroes and it is cool. That right there is showing you what the sport is about. We want to see each other ride the rankest ones there and let the winning take care of itself.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray came away impressed by Wing’s performance.
“Stormy was flawless and that has to really excite him and take his confidence level to another level because he has been at this for quite a while,” Murray said.
Wing’s victory also makes it six straight event victories for riders born in the United States.
“The Brazilians ride good and we love all of them,” Wing said, “but we needed to get our stuff together and we have been talking about that for a good year now.”
He spent last week hanging out in California with a group of various friends and fellow riders Chase Outlaw, Douglas Duncan and Tanner Byrne.
Outlaw had recently earned his first win in nearly two years three weeks ago in Nashville, Tennessee, when he also rode Mr. Bull (89.25 points) in the championship round.
“When you hangout winners you are a winner,” Wing said. “We just had fun and didn’t think much about bull riding. I just thank the good Lord for blessing me with all my friends and family.”
Wing’s victory pushes him to 16th in the world standings and he is on pace for a career-best finish in the world standings with two regular season events remaining before the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
His best finish came in 2012 when he placed 24th in the world.
Wing is 19-for-61 this season and his 19 rides are the second most in his BFTS career. The 5-foot-6 rider has averaged 86.37 points per ride in his career and has been a rider known for putting together a solid score once he reaches the 8-second mark.
With his first win finally under his belt, he hopes he can look forward to the next one.
“I was frustrated for several years,” he said. “I have made the PBR Finals several years in a row and to finally get my win is a goal I have reached and I am on to something bigger and better.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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