PUEBLO, Colo. – Texas has always been home for Stormy Wing.
The Lone Star State is where he first learned to ride steers at 4 years old, where he strapped on his football helmet for Dalhart High School as a hard-hitting linebacker and where he plans to live for the rest of his life.
That is why the past two weeks have been so important for the No. 22 bull rider in the world.
Wing was in jeopardy of not qualifying for the Choctaw Casino and Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, at the start of the Built Ford Tough Series event in St. Louis before he ripped off a Round-3 winning ride on Shoot Out the Lights to earn 100 points toward the world standings.
The Dalhart, Texas, bull rider followed that up with an 88.5-point ride on Fire Rock to finish second in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round that helped him leave St. Louis back inside the Top-30 of the world standings thanks to the 225 total points he earned at the Scottrade Center.
“It was important as important gets,” Wing said. “To be in the Top 35 week in and week out is what your job is. That is how you make a living for your family. To come to Iron Cowboy, I clinched it going into Kansas City, and there was a part of me that wasn’t done. I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I knew I could come Sunday to THE AMERICAN.”
Thanks to his fourth-place finish in St. Louis, Wing was able to take a stab at qualifying for the other huge Western sports event on the Texas calendar following Iron Cowboy by competing at THE AMERICAN SEMIFINALS in Fort Worth, Texas, this past weekend.
Sure enough, Wing came through for the second week in a row by being the only rider to cover all three of his bulls to wrap up the final wild card spot for THE AMERICAN.
“I am jacked,” Wing said. “I set out and wanted to go do it and get into THE AMERICAN. I paid all my fees and did the stuff to qualify for it this year. I was going to be bummed out if I didn’t get to but, but I had that chance and I capitalized on an opportunity that was dealt to me.”
Wing capped his three-ride weekend with an 89.5-point ride on Live Action. He is now eligible, along with fellow PBR wild card qualifiers Ben Jones, Tyler Harr, Jason Malone, Stetson Lawrence and Lachlan Richardson, at a potential share of the $1 million bonus up for grabs.
It won’t be an easy task though, as the Top 10 riders from the 2014 PBR world standings (Silvano Alves, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Matt Triplett, J.B. Mauney, Fabiano Vieira, Eduardo Aparecido, Mike Lee, Guilherme Marchi, J.W. Harris and Cody Nance) are also competing in the bull riding.
Any wild card qualifier, including 2014 PRCA champion Sage Kimzey(exemption invite), who potentially wins one of the seven rodeo events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding – is eligible for a portion of the $1 million bonus.
Even though Wing was bucked off by Blind Side at THE AMERICAN last year, he did advance to the third round of Iron Cowboy by riding Jack Daniel’s After Party for 90.5 points.
Wing is one of eight riders (J.W. Harris, Bonner Bolton, Cooper Davis, Neil Holmes, Bryan Titman, Mike Lee and Douglas Duncan) from Texas that are in the draw for Iron Cowboy.
The 25-year-old said there is no better feeling than performing in front of his home state fans.
“Home is home,” he explained. “The fan base from Texas, they are diehard fans and true No. 1 fans. They are like none other.”
Wing heads to Arlington riding his strongest since winning the 2014 BFTS event in Oakland, California. The 5-foot-6 bull rider has ridden five bulls in a row. Prior to riding his final two bulls in St. Louis, Wing had only covered 4-of-17 bulls on the BFTS.
He has drawn Oscar P in the first round for Iron Cowboy.
“I feel like I am back,” Wing said. “I don’t feel like I am fighting anymore. This gives me confidence going into both the Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN.
“I am proud of myself, but it can’t be where that ends. You have to want more and try and stay focused and visualize that there is more out there that a guy can get.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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