Repeating as world champion in any sport is never easy
PRCA saddle bronc rider Spencer Wright knows that all too well.
The Milford, Utah, cowboy, who is part of the storied Wright saddle bronc family, captured a stunning world championship in 2014 in his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo debut.
Wright placed in nine of 10 rounds at his first Wrangler NFR, including winning Rounds 4 and 7, to claim the average title and set an event record by rising from 13th place at the start of the Wrangler NFR to become world champion with earnings of $205,388.
“I was pretty lucky to do that,” said Wright, 28. “That happened to me, and I was just riding bucking horses and didn’t even think I had a chance. It turned out it came down to the last couple of nights and I was in the running. I was just down there having fun. I didn’t even think about it.”
Unfortunately for Spencer, that wasn’t a springboard to future success. He did make it back to the 2015 Wrangler NFR, but he placed in just one round in Las Vegas and finished 14th in the world standings.
“I had so much success my first year, and then I went out there the second time and I placed in just one round,” Spencer said. “After that, it makes you just want to crawl in a hole after you leave.”
In 2016 and 2017, Wright was in a slump, placing 44th and 30th, respectively, in the world standings.
“I really struggled there for a couple of years with some broken saddles and some minor injuries,” Spencer said. “All that kind of stuff just kind of affected the way I was riding. My brothers and all my family helped get me straightened out. It took a bit. I was riding a saddle that was broken and then my confidence just went south.”
A year ago, Wright started to turn the corner and narrowly missed making the Wrangler NFR, finishing 17th in the world standings with $73,767.
“I got a new saddle at the beginning of last year (2018), and I didn’t start riding it really good until about the Fourth of the July,” Spencer said. “I just didn’t quite make it, and I was kind of disappointed in myself, but it really fueled the fire. I just wanted to make it back (to the Finals) so bad, I can’t explain it.”
Fast-forward to 2019, and Spencer had the best regular season of his career, finishing fourth in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $120,105. His nephew, Ryder Wright, is leading the saddle bronc riding world standings with $224,488.
“It feels great,” Spencer said about making the Wrangler NFR after a three-year drought. “I absolutely want to win the world again. I would like to win it as many times as I can. I feel like I’m riding good enough and I’m confident enough to give myself a chance again. I know I’m capable of winning another world championship. I have just as good a chance of winning it as anybody who is going down there.”