DUNCAN, Okla. – For a man who competes part-time, Stockton Graves is making a pretty good living on the ProRodeo trail.
Graves, a seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in steer wrestling from Alva, Okla., has earned nearly $40,000 this season. He’s moved to No. 20 in this week’s world standings and needs to advance just five more spots on the money list by the end of the regular season to secure his eighth trip to the finale.
“The NFR is definitely on the back of our minds,” he said, referring to his traveling partner, J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn., who is 25th. “We’re not going to chase it to the point we’re going to break ourselves doing it. I’ve got it planned out to where we can go and make enough money to make it.”
A good portion of Graves’ earning came in the first couple weeks of August, where he pocketed just shy of $15,000. That was not only beneficial for his place in the world standings, but it cemented the Oklahoma cowboy’s spot at this year’s Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
In fact, Graves has pocketed $14,909 in the Prairie Circuit, a series of rodeos in the Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska region. That includes a big victory at the Dodge City (Kan.) Roundup Rodeo, the largest event in the circuit in terms of overall purse. He also collected cash in Lawton, Okla., Phillipsburg, Kan., and Coffeyville, Kan.; he also won the title Sidney, Iowa, but that $4,003 didn’t count toward the circuit standings.
“It’s definitely been good for a circuit rodeo cowboy,” said Graves, who also serves as the rodeo coach at his alma mater, Northwestern Oklahoma State University. “I’ve had a really good run the last few weeks. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
The biggest payday was in Dodge City the first weekend in August. Graves won the championship round and the three-run aggregate to pocket $5,704.
“I’ve always wanted to win Dodge since I started rodeoing,” said Graves, who has now earned titles at all the major events in the Prairie Circuit; he has won four year-end circuit titles, including the last two. “It just took me 20 years, but I got it won.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to win all the major rodeos in our circuit. This will dang sure boost me up there to contend for another circuit title.”
It’s provided an incredible streak of momentum. Graves holds a $4,735 over the No. 2 cowboy in the regional standings, Riley Duvall of Checotah, Okla. In addition to finishing among the top 12 in the region in order to qualify for the regional finale, moving on to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo is a major part of being in the circuit system; only the year-end champs and the winners of each circuit finals rodeo in each event advance to the RNCFR, which takes place in Kissimmee, Fla.
“We had two goals when we set out: To make the All American Finals and to win our circuits and go to Kissimmee,” Graves said. “Last year it was phenomenal down there and something you want to go back to every year.”
It all starts with doing well through the season, and he has that part already covered.