PUEBLO, Colo. – It was the final day of the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals when Stormy Wing was sitting in the shower stall of the locker room by himself.
Recently crowned 2015 World Champion J.B. Mauney’s bull riding gear sat next to Wing on the left as the 26-year-old was putting the final touches on his gear before pre-event introductions.
It had been less than 24 hours since, for the second time in three years, Wing pulled Mauney’s bull rope before his World Championship-winning ride.
Even though Mauney had in theory already clinched the 2015 title mathematically a few minutes earlier following Kaique Pacheco’s 88-point ride on Cowboy Phil, many look at Mauney’s 92.75-point ride on Bruiser as the exclamation point of his 2015 championship.
The ride will forever be a part of Mauney’s continuing legacy, and Wing will always be seen prepping Mauney in the soon-to-be historic videos for many years to come.
In 2013, Wing pulled Mauney’s rope before he rode Wipeout for 93 points to win the 2013 World Championship, capping off an emphatic late-season rally to usurp then-defending World Champion Silvano Alves for the crown.
Wing took a sip from his water bottle before pausing when asked about being the rider Mauney trusts the most with his bull rope.
“I am glad to be a part of it, but it was him,” Wing said. He then stopped to compose himself while tears began to slowly trickle down his face. “I had nothing to do with it. I was just there to make sure he had his fair chance and I just told him, ‘I cared for him, loved him and wanted him to win.’”
Mauney said, “We figured out the first year I won it, he was there pretty much the entire second half of the season pulling my rope. Coming into the Finals in 2013, we didn’t want to change nothing. It has pretty much been that way ever since. If he is not right before me or right after me, he is right there pulling my rope.”
The two-time World Champion remembers Wing, as well as Douglas Duncan, just telling him to breathe while PBR in-arena announcers, Brandon Bates and Clint Adkins, announced Mauney as the 2015 World Champion before he had even nodded for the out gate.
“He said, ‘Just keep breathing and do what you do,’” Mauney recalled.
Wing has been by Mauney’s side for the majority of his career since he debuted on the BFTS in 2010.
At nearly every Built Ford Tough Series event, you can likely find Wing’s bull riding gear right next to Mauney’s inside the locker room.
In September, the 26-year-old worked with Mauney at his Mooresville, North Carolina, ranch after struggling for most of the season to develop any sort of consistency.
Mauney pointed out that Wing had a “hump in his back” and he needed to move more while riding.
“I told him, ‘Why you don’t stay a couple of days,” Mauney said. “I put him on the drop barrel. He was riding bulls good into his hand, but away from his hand he wasn’t riding crap. He would stop moving and he would quit. It was almost like he locked down. So I got him on the drop barrel and got him moving again.”
The session proved beneficial for Wing.
That minor adjustment helped Wing conclude the regular season with two Top-5 finishes and a sixth-place showing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he also won Round 1 with an 87-point ride on Tahonta’s Magic.
He concluded the season 6-for-16 following some practice sessions with Mauney after previously going 11-for-47.
Wing also finished the year 25th in the world standings and qualified for the World Finals for the fifth consecutive season.
Still, Mauney’s 2015 world title struck an emotional chord with Wing.
Not only did Mauney win the championship for the second time in his career, but he did it by riding the rankest bull in the pen in dramatic fashion – something every bull rider should strive to do, believes Wing.
“This was nothing like that last one,” Wing said. “All of us bull riders know about this sport and for him to go into the draft the day before the Finals is over, and anybody can say what they want, but I know in my heart, and everyone else knows in their heart, that he went in there and he picked the rankest bull he knew he could win on. There were six riders before him that could have picked that bull. Nothing against Kaique (Pacheco) or J.R. (Joao Ricardo Vieira) – Kaique made a hell of a ride (on Cowboy Phil)– but he went in there with the sixth pick.
“As a bull rider, it just makes me so proud of him. That is so rank.”
Mauney selected Bruiser with the sixth selection out of 40 picks.
He made the choice with no hesitation, and he spent the majority of the bull draft for Round 4 helping his buddies decide which bull to select.
“He was more worried about helping me,” Wing said again before wiping his tears on his riding shirt. “That is what was cool about it.”
There is no other bull rider Wing would like to be like than Mauney.
“I told him he is my hero, and he is the baddest badass in my book I know,” Wing said. “I am just very proud of him. I love him and all of the stuff he has gone through and he still won. You can’t take it away from him. Ever.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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