OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – It figured it would be a PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour event that would get Cody Whitney back on track.
Struggling with his confidence and “with just staying on” after injuring his left (riding) hand at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Whitney broke through Feb. 19 with a win at the Seminole Classic Xtreme Bulls Tour event.
Whitney, of Sayre, Okla., had an 83-point ride in the long round and won the short go by scoring 89.5 points on Robinson Pro Rodeo’s Thomas the Train – the second highest score ever achieved on that bull.
Whitney’s two-head total of 172.5 points gave him a victory margin of 14.5 points over Tony Mendes – the only other contestant to ride both bulls – and gave him total earnings of $12,549. He is now fourth in the X Bulls standings and ninth in the world.
“I really needed this,” Whitney said. “I’ve had such a rough start to the year. I didn’t do anything in Fort Worth or in San Antonio (he had just $540 in season earnings entering the weekend). I needed to stay on one and get a check.
“Now that I know that I’m healthy and I can win, it gives me something to build on.”
How much he might be able to do and whether he could qualify for a third consecutive Wrangler NFR this year was very much an open question when he left Las Vegas in December.
X-rays and an MRI showed no fracture in his left hand. The doctors didn’t know what was causing him so much pain, but they had a couple of theories including that it was some sort of nerve damage.
“That’s what makes the most sense to me,” Whitney said. “It was right in the middle of my hand and based on how it felt and what the docs told me, I think it was related to that.
“I took off for about six weeks after the NFR, trying to regroup and trying to convince myself that the hand was going to be OK.”
That his first big jolt of confidence of the new season should come in an Xtreme Bulls Tour event seemed only fitting. It felt a lot like last year when he won the San Antonio Xtreme Bulls Tour event, on the exact same date.
Whitney went on to win another Xtreme Bulls event in Bremerton, Wash., and finished third in the Tour standings, with nearly half of the $76,089 he earned during the regular season coming at X Bulls stops.
He has had three wins in the last eight X Bulls events over two seasons.
“The Xtreme Bulls Tour has been great to me,” Whitney said.