LAS VEGAS – On the final night of his 2013 season, steer wrestler Bray Armes of Ponder, Texas, has the world before him.
Armes has earned more than $52,000 during the first nine days of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He is the No. 8 cowboy in the world standings, but he’s in prime position to make a massive jump to the most coveted prize in ProRodeo, the world champion’s gold buckle.
You see, Armes, who grew up near Gruver, Texas, has knocked down nine steers in a cumulative time of 40.2 seconds to lead the average race heading into Saturday’s 10th go-round. Should he remain there with the championship concludes, he will receive a bonus of $47,776. The money’s important, because it not only is how cowboys make their living, but also it serves as points – the contestants in each event with the most money when the season concludes will be crowned world champions.
Armes trails leader Matt Reeves by about $33,000 but can make up that much ground with a solid run in the 10th round. Go-round winners earn $18,630.
“My game plan is to win the round,” Armes said.
Should the plan work out, the big Texan is poised to win $66,406 in one championship run. While in contention, it’s going to be a dogfight on Saturday. Two-time world champion Dean Gorsuch is fifth in the world standings and second in the average, which pays $38,762. And there are numerous others in line in an outstanding world title race.
Armes helped himself out considerably on Friday night when he blistered a run of 3.6 seconds to finish runner-up in the ninth round. It paid $14,724 and helped in his quest for the elusive gold buckle.
“I knew I had a good steer, and I just wanted to get my hands on him and try to win some money,” Armes said.
He’s done pretty well so far, placing in five rounds. He’s also been able to celebrate a pretty powerful week with his family: wife Neelley, daughter Breely and son Drake, who, on Thursday, celebrated his fifth birthday; the family had a little gathering in honor of the youngest Armes.
“I asked Drake what he wanted to do, and he said he wanted cake and to eat at the buffet, and then he pointed to me and said, ‘I want you to take a nap,’ ” Bray Armes said.
Even at 5 years old, Drake knew just what Daddy needed. It’s that type of family support that leads to championships.