American Royal guides cowboys to NFR

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Armes, Keylon use winnings in Kansas City to qualify for their first grand finale

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Bray Armes earned $2,326 during this year’s American Royal Rodeo.

He needed every bit of it.

Bray Armes
Bray Armes

Armes, of Gruver, Texas, scooted into the 15th spot in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s steer wrestling world standings, thereby earning his first qualification to ProRodeo’s grand finale, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, set for Dec. 6-15 in Las Vegas.

Like most cowboys, Armes battled all season only to sit precariously outside the qualifying mark in late September – only the top 15 contestants in each event at the conclusion of the regular season qualify for the NFR. The American Royal’s rodeo fell on the final weekend of the 2012 campaign, and it became the focal point for the sport’s greatest stars.

“That run I went on is something that’s not supposed to happen, so I have to give the credit to God for giving me my abilities,” Armes told the PRCA. “It sure was special to be able to do it like that.”

Yes, it was. Armes won the steer wrestling title in Albuquerque, N.M., the weekend prior to place himself in position for the NFR. His two-week run pushed Armes into the 15th spot, just $55 ahead of Jason Miller, the 2007 world champion from Lance Creek, Wyo.

Jared Keylon
Jared Keylon

“It really was an awesome year either way and to just be in the position I was, to have a chance, was crazy,” Armes said. “Jason is a good friend, but I am excited to be going, and I’m looking forward to next year, too.”

Bareback rider Jared Keylon of Uniontown, Kan., used a big run the final weekend to secure his first NFR qualification, including $1,636 he earned in Kansas City.

There were a few contestants who just missed the mark. Miller, for example, had an opportunity to earn that $56 that would’ve pushed him over the edge, but he failed to earn a paycheck on the season’s final day.

Saddle bronc rider Luke Butterfield of Ponoka, Alberta, finished in a tie for fifth place with an 82-point ride. However, he needed an 85 or better to earn enough money to move into the top 15 past Montanan Tyrell Smith. He fell just $822 from making it to Las Vegas.

Big things happened at this year’s American Royal Rodeo. It’s not the first time, so expect history to repeat itself.


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