Wesley Silcox might just be the softest-spoken cowboy in the history of the ProRodeo Cowboys Association. But the look on his face when he came the ground after the 8-second whistle blew in 10th round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo said everything his lips wouldn't about achieving his lifelong goal of a bull riding world title.
"When I stood up, I knew I had it," the Payson, Utah, cowboy said.
And really, the week was his. He rode seven of the 10 bulls run under him, including wins in rounds two, nine and 10 and placing on every other bull he covered.
His rides appear effortless, bringing to mind the recently ProRodeo Hall of Fame-enshrined Jim Sharp. Even when he does get out of place, the 22-year-old slips back with ease and fluidity. His contemporaries call him 'sticky' but he seems at times to simply float above the raging storm beneath him. He tries to model his silky riding style after the great Lane Frost.
After his first two NFR qualifications, he seemed to carry himself more confidently throughout the entire season. Despite having wrist surgery on his free arm after last year's NFR he continued to ride, only then, he struggled.
"It affected my head and I wasn't riding good mentally," he said. "It was my free arm. It was in January and after I got it off, things just started clicking."
About the time the cast came off, he won the Redding (Calif.) Rodeo. Then it was the Guymon (Okla.)
Pioneer Days Rodeo and things really started to roll. He won both the Reno Xtreme Bulls stop and the Reno Rodeo, Greeley (Colo.) and the Farm-City
ProRodeo in Hermiston, Ore.
With reigning world champion and current world standings leader B.J. Schumacher out of contention in the Tour, Silcox looked to be gaining some serious momentum. Then, in Omaha, a bull jerked him down and broke his eye socket and his jaw. It had to be wired shut and although he qualified, he had to miss the final stop on the Ariat Playoffs in Dallas.
"I got on a bull after Dallas and I got on a couple bulls before I came here and it started feeling good," he said. "Somebody's bound to get hurt when you're doing this, but I bounced back pretty good."
Indeed he did. No one has ridden more than seven bulls at the Finals since Blue Stone rode eight in 2001.
His highest-scored ride of the week was a 91.5 and it came in round 10 on a Growney Brothers bull named Wolf Can Do. That was the highest-marked ride of the rodeo. (Logan Knibbe also covered Big Mike of the Flying U string for the same score in round seven.)
Silcox made $117,933 in Las Vegas, bringing his total to $228,942 and giving him a $10,000 cushion over second-place finisher Kanin Asay.
"I was reserve champion here last year and the first year I came here I think I ended up eighth," he said. "I just kept trying to better myself. This year just happened to be my year. Me and B.J. (Schumacher) talked about it yesterday and he said last year he had his week and this year, it was mine. It hasn't sunk in all the way yet. It's one of my goals and it's the best feeling in the world."