RODEO: Sullivan back after taking time to heal

A spur of the moment sheep riding competition when he was younger led Weston Sullivan to where he is today.

He took up the sport around the age of four, showcasing natural ability that saw him qualify to compete in the National Junior Bullriders National Finals in Shawnee, Oklahoma two years later.

Although it was one of his favorite things to do, injuries began piling up for Sullivan over a six-year span of competing, forcing him to take a break from participating in any rodeos.

Now 15, Sullivan is making his return to the sport in a big way.

The young rider seemed to pick up where he left off, this time showing off his skill as a bull rider to qualify for the International Miniature Bullriders Association World Finals taking place from November 9-13 in Reno, Nev.

“It’s in his blood and he can’t get it out of him,” Wesley Sullivan, Weston’s father, said.

The original journey started when the Sullivans relocated from Odessa to Carlsbad, N.M. and befriended a family with kids interested in rodeos.

That meeting led to a spark that saw the Sullivan family drive back out to Odessa to put Weston on a sheep for his first riding competition.

From that moment on, the young rider was completely sold on the sport.

When the injury bug took its toll, the family decided that it was best for Weston to take a step back and regroup.

It wouldn’t take long for the rider’s interest to be reignited by what he saw in professional bull rider J.B. Mauney.

Drawing inspiration from the rodeo professional and the feeling he gets when he competes led him back to the sport he loves.

“I was missing the adrenaline rush,” Weston said. “It’s basically all it is, the adrenaline rush.”

Now the young rider is preparing for one of the biggest events that someone in his age group can compete in.

He said it felt amazing knowing that he could compete at such a high level, even after taking some time away.

“The career he wants to follow, he’s on the right path,” Wesley said. “Coming back in and being able to compete at this level, me and his mom are more proud than ever and thankful he gets to do what he wants to do.”

Just a few weeks ago, Weston added another buckle to his collection when he finished as reserve champion at the Smith Mini Buckers Finals at the Lazy S4 Arena in Odessa.

He plans on going into the world finals in Nevada the same way he goes into his other competitions, with a clear mind.

The rider believes that a competitor can maintain a better focus and achieve more favorable results if they keep outside thoughts away during practice runs.

Weston is currently working with instructors from Smith Mini Buckers and they have prepared him for the rodeos he has participated in since his return.

Fixing some key mistakes like not leaning too far forward on a ride are some of the things his new instructors have taught him.

Wesley said the Smith family has gotten his son to where he is today, helping him go all in on being a top-notch competitor from the start of the season.

The younger Sullivan is currently a sophomore at OC Techs and he is studying to get his associate’s degree in diesel technology.

He wants to go into bull riding professionally, aiming to win world championships at the National Finals Rodeo.

If everything goes according to plan, he wants to retire from bull riding and work as a diesel mechanic for a company like John Deere later on in his future.

“He’s got his dream set on PBR, PRCA World Finals,” Wesley said. “I don’t see how he’s not going to be able to do it.

“If he stays with what he’s got, when he hits 18 and he gets to go pro, I don’t see it very long until he’s there.”

>>Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya