The Athens Review
Last year, Ryan Gray missed qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo after earning seven consecutive berths to the Las Vegas championships.
But this year, the former Texas Tech star is on pace to return to the National Finals. Gray came a step closer by winning the bareback riding title at the March 28-30 ABC Rodeo in Lubbock and the $1,207 check that came with it.
After all that, Gray, who has residences in Cheney, Wash., and the West Texas town of Petersburg, was ranked seventh in the April 1 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback riding world standings with regular season earnings of $20,024. If Gray can finish within the top 15 when the season concludes on Sept. 30, he will qualify for the 2013 NFR.
Gray won the ABC Rodeo bareback title after turning in a score of 89 aboard a bronc named Movie Madness, owned by the Beutler & Son Rodeo Co., and he was among numerous world class competitors who cashed in at the Lubbock rodeo.
In barrel racing, for example, Lindsay Sears, a two-time world champion who has homes in Nanton, Alberta, and the West Texas community of Ropesville, finished sixth with a time of 14.42 seconds. Lee Ann Rust, a 2012 NFR qualifier, clinched the title after turning in 14.09.
In steer wrestling, 2009 National Finals qualifier Hunter Cure, another former Texas Tech star, shared the title with Cody Pratt. Both cowboys turned in a time of 4.0 seconds.
David Motes, the 1977 world champion who has 22 NFR qualifications, clinched the team roping heading title after he and partner Byron Wilkerson turned in a time of 5.3.
The Lubbock rodeo also drew potential world class competitors such as Billy Bob Brown, a Tarleton State student who won the tie-down roping title after turning in a time of 7.8 seconds. Other champions were bull rider Elliot Jacoby (a score of 90) and saddle bronc rider Tyler Corrington (83).
The Walker County Fair and Rodeo was this weekend and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show has drawn numerous world class competitors such as hometown superstar Joe Beaver.
Beaver entered the team roping competition and his wife, Jenna, signed up to compete in barrel racing.
Beaver has earned five world tie-down roping titles (1985, 1987-88, 1992-93) and three all-around gold buckles (1995-96, 2000) in the PRCA.
All in all, Beaver earned 22 qualifications to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. His tie-down roping qualifications were 1985-88, 1990-98, 2000-01, 2003-04 and 2006. His team roping qualifications were in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2006.
In recent years, Beaver has served as a timed event sports commentator on the NFR television broadcasts.
Beaver also was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2002.
Stace Smith of Athens, who has been crowned as the PRCA’s Stock Contractor of the Year for the past nine years (2004-12), supplied the livestock.
The Professional Bull Riders will offer $100,000 to the winner of the Last Cowboy Standing, a Built Ford Tough Series tour stop that’s scheduled for May 10-11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
After finishing No. 1, the champion will have the opportunity to earn an additional $80,000 if he can stay on a bounty bull in a promotion called the Monster Energy Money Bull Bonus.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.
The ticket prices range from $20 to $125.
For more information, visit www.pbr.com.
Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the past quarter century.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.