FORT MYERS, Fla. - Cody Nance looked relaxed and confident as he stood next to Jeff Robinson.
The 24-year-old hadn't laughed and smiled like that since early January when he won the first Built Ford Tough Series event of the 2012 season. More than seven months later, he was in Fort Myers, Fla., and had won the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Big Bull Tour, a five-event series of Touring Pro Division events.
Nance competed in four of the five events - Birmingham, Ala., Tupelo, Miss., Grand Junction, Colo., and Fort Myers - to claim the series win with two first-place finishes and a second.
"Any time you set your mind to something and try to press on to achieve a goal, it's always an accomplishment," Nance said. "It always makes you feel good and always helps you in so many areas, especially in a career that so much of a mental game is involved. I'm blessed to have the ability and the opportunity to be at these events."
Nance said that Robinson, who is the reigning two-time Stock Contractor of the Year, is known for producing quality TPD events, but that he wasn't planning to attend those events until Robinson approached him during the BFTS event in Pueblo, Colo.
Until then, he said, he didn't know the details.
He missed the opening event in Asheville, N.C., but once he won the second event in Birmingham, the agenda for the rest of his summer schedule immediately changed. He won both first and second in Tupelo to bring his total Big Bull winnings to nearly $15,000, and easily out-earned every other rider who had competed in at least four of the five events.
"I'm not really worried about where I failed, because I've picked up and realized where I was mentally."
As the tour winner, he earns RMEF signature rifle, a 2013 hunt courtesy of RMEF, a full set of Cooper Tires and a New Holland Rustler utility vehicle. The tour winner also qualifies to receive three BFTS exemptions. However, Nance is ranked No. 20, and will not likely need the exemptions.
Nance said he's most looking forward to taking part in his first-ever elk hunt.
He lives in the western region of Tennessee, and according to Nance, he's only been able to hunt white tail deer.
"It'll be neat to experience something new," he said, "and be out there in nature facing challenges."
He's ridden in 18 of 19 BFTS events.
Nance was the top-ranked rider in the world standings after opening the season with a win at Madison Square Garden, but fell into a free fall down the standings - and even briefly out of the Top 25 - until earning a pair of Top 10 finishes in May.
Cody Nance wins the season-opening BFTS event in New York.
He's currently 20th in the world standings and 16th in the qualifier standings with $86,224.34 earned this year.
"There was a lot going on at that time," said Nance, recalling the New York event. "That was one (those) times when I was really broke and the good Lord just supplied my needs.
"I'm not really worried about where I failed, because I've picked up and realized where I was mentally, and now I can have a solid mindset going into the second half of the season - just excited about good things happening."
The 2009 Rookie of the Year has earned in excess of $400,000 and won four BFTS events in his three-plus-year career, but has never finished the season ranked higher than 20th.
Going forward, Nance said he plans to keep it simple.
"This is the biggest it gets when it comes to bull riding," he said. "There are so many people out there (who) want this. If I don't use it, what a waste - so I'm going to give it all I got."
He concluded by reciting, "Walk by faith, not by sight and live to finish the good race."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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