SALADO, Texas (KWTX) Four-time world champion bull rider Sage Kimzey, 24, and tie-down roper Cooper Martin, 21, both whom now live and train in Salado, will be competing in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., which begins Thursday.
Cooper Martin (left) and Sage Kimzey. (Courtesy photos)
This year’s big event marks the fifth appearance for Kimzey who comes in ranked No. 1 in the world and the second for Martin who is ranked No. 7.
“It’s so exciting,’ Martin said.
“Last year I got all the kinks worked out and now it’s awesome because I can enjoy it.”
Kimzey was born in Strong City, Okla., and Martin in Alma, Kan., but both ended up finding love in Salado.
“My girlfriend lives there so I spend most of my time there,” Martin said.
The story is the same for Kimzey who has been in a long relationship with Alexis Bloomer, a graduate of Salado High School and TV personality with a large online following.
“I moved down there about a year and a half ago. I love Central Texas and it is a great place to rodeo out of," he said.
Kimzey won the NFR in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 becoming the youngest millionaire in PRCA history during the 2016 Wrangler NFR at the age of just 22.
In 2018 alone he won 20 rodeos breaking the regular season earnings record which included at win at the iconic Houston Rodeo.
That’s where the Salado-based athlete had a brush with former president George H.W. Bush.
“When I was walking into the locker room, a security team stopped me asked what I was doing and about that time President George H.W. Bush comes around the corner and said hello.”
The then 93-year-old former commander-in-chief, who lived in Houston, had surprised the crowd by attending the last night of the rodeo.
“Meeting anyone that has led our country was a huge honor and to me, it made Sunday even more special,” Kimzey said.
Kimzey reshared the photo over the weekend following the news the former president had died.
“Thank you for your service to our great country,” Kimzey wrote.
Martin said he’s hoping to take the event one ride at a time.
“I’m going to go out it every go round every night and see where I end up. That’s my goal,” he said.
Both Cooper and Kimsey say it’s a neat experience to be on the big stage with someone else from Central Texas.
“It’s kind of fun going to the NFR with someone who is kind of from your hometown now,” Martin said.
The NFR kicks off Thursday and wraps up Saturday Dec. 15.