Billingsley native within reach of championship at National FinalsBy Stephen Dawkins Published 4:31pm Thursday, June 13, 2013
Zachary Wilson of Billingsley has a chance to bring home a rodeo national championship in just his first year of competing collegiately.
As of Thursday, Wilson, a freshman at the University of West Alabama, was in the lead in the tie-down roping competition at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
There are more performances before the final round on Saturday, but Wilson’s time of 8.9 seconds on Wednesday has him in first place and needing just a solid performance on Saturday to claim the championship.
The National Finals began Monday at the Casper Event Center. The final round begins at 8 p.m. Central Time on Saturday and can be followed at cfnr.com. It will also air on ESPNU in August.
Another local product and West Alabama competitor, Andy Phillips, is also participating in the National Finals.
Wilson qualified for the National Finals by winning the Southeast Region, which includes such programs as Troy University and Martin College in Tennessee. There are more than 400 contestants from about 100 universities competing in the rodeo.
Wilson said he was nervous Wednesday competing in front of the largest crowd of his career, but he posted the best time of his three rounds of competition. Wilson recorded a time of 10.0 in the first round and a 9.3 in the second round.
“This is probably the biggest event I’ve competed in,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s father, Keith Wilson, said he is pleasantly surprised that Zachary has made it to this point.
“I was thrilled when he qualified for it,” Keith Wilson said.
But both agree that Zachary has put in the work necessary to earn a championship.
“Every morning at 6 o’clock, he’s in the practice pen,” Keith Wilson said. “He’s really driven, and he’s got some good guys at Livingston that he practices with, and they push each other.”
Zachary Wilson said he’s had to juggle practice with school responsibilities.
“I’ve been working pretty hard at it, trying to get ready for it,” he said. “I wake up every morning and practice, and then have class after that. Then, we practice after class.”