Oakes turns back the clock in Fort Mohave
March 19, 2015
Zack Oakes is going to party like it's 2007.
The 31-year-old bull rider won his first Xtreme Bulls title in eight years March 14 when he captured the Fort Mohave Classic PRCA Xtreme Bulls event with a score of 163 points on two head.
Oakes was the only man able to navigate the loaded pen of bulls and come away with two qualified rides. He rode for 82.5 points on Bar T Rodeo's No. 813 in the finals, and then watched every other rider hit the dirt.
"The last buckle I have like this is from Laughlin (Nev.) in 2007," Oakes said while holding his spoils after his victory lap. "It looks the exact same, just a different city and several years later. This one is going in the trophy case, because this is a special win for me."
Oakes – who qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2004-05 and 2008-09 – hadn't won a PRCA rodeo in five years before the 2015 season.
He won the Homestead (Fla.) Championship Rodeo and was co-champion at the Peace River Pro Rodeo Classic (Wauchula, Fla.) earlier this season, but the Fort Mohave Xtreme Bulls title should serve as an announcement that he's officially back.
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"I'm going to go try to win the world this year," the Tonasket, Wash., cowboy said. "I don't see a reason why I can't. I let it slip through my fingers a few times in the past, and I'm not going to let that happen again. I don't have a lot of years left to do this, so I don't want to leave anything on the table. I want to do whatever I can to win a gold buckle this year."
Oakes hasn't rodeoed full time since his last WNFR season in 2009. He says the past five years have mainly been spent healing after several surgeries, and that he never thought he'd make a return to rodeo.
"I never had any intentions of going again, but the longer I stayed out, the better I started feeling," said Oakes, who earned a total of $8,235 in Fort Mohave. "All my friends in the Northwest got me back into it by inviting me to local events, and they talked me into coming back. It felt good and felt right tonight, and I finally feel healthy for the first time in years."
Although 31 is somewhat old in terms of bull riding years, Oakes looks at this as a second chance to pursue the career he loves.
The win in Fort Mohave boosted his confidence tremendously.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I can ride with these guys," he said. "In the past, I might've been beaten mentally sometimes, but not anymore. Some people might call me old, but I call it experienced. I feel refreshed and I love to ride bulls. There were times when I was riding in the past when I was only riding at 50 percent, but I'm healthy now."
Tanner Learmont, who won the San Antonio Xtreme Bulls event two weeks ago, took the first-round victory with an 85.5-point ride on Bar T Rodeo's Classic Vinyl.
Learmont finished second in the average, and earned a total of $7,708 – which moved him ahead of Sage Kimzey into the lead in the Xtreme Bulls Tour standings.