LAS VEGAS – It was an emotional conclusion to the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for steer wrestler Bray Armes.
In his first qualification to Pro Rodeo’s grand championship, Armes put on quite a show. He placed in five go-rounds and put his stamp on the NFR with a 3.5-second run to finish second in Saturday’s 10 go-round. He also placed fourth in the average with a 10-round cumulative time of 55.2 seconds.
In all, Armes earned $85,397 in the City of Lights. That pushed him from 15 to sixth in the final world standings, with $131,249 in earnings.
“It’s amazing,” Armes said Saturday night, choking up a bit. “I’ve been blessed. I can’t put it all into words. I just thank the Lord.”
It’s been an incredible year for Armes, who returned to rodeo full time at the beginning of the season. Heading into the summer stretched, he jumped in the rig with two-time world champion Dean Gorsuch; the race to the NFR was on, but not without drama.
Armes needed an incredible finish to move into the 15 spot in the standings to secure his first trip to Las Vegas; he got it with key wins in Albuquerque, N.M., and Kansas City, Mo., in late September. Then he put on quite a show inside the Thomas and Mack Center, earning more money than all the other steer wrestlers in the field.
“It’s a dream come true and a great blessing,” he said. “It’s been awesome.”
So will his December earnings mean something different for Christmas?
“We’re going to get to move for Christmas,” Armes said, noting that he, his wife, Neelley, and their children, daughter Breely and son Drake, will leave the Texas Panhandle community of Gruver for a place in Denton County. Neelley’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Riley, live in Denton, while Bray’s parents live a little just 30 miles further. “Then the day after Christmas, I’ll have a little procedure done on my knee.”
Bray Armes’ final push came from a solid game plan. Armes was in the hunt for the elusive world championship and needed every advantage he could get. He was hoping a fast time could secure his first go-round win in his first NFR.
“I wanted to win buckles; I was going at it,” he said. “I was going to push the barrier as hard as I could and give it all I had.”
Las Vegas can be a wild place, and rodeo fans make it quite western during the NFR. Armes was able to enjoy all the experiences with his family right by his side.
“Couldn’t ask for anything more,” Armes said. “It’s just been crazy. It’s been fun.”