LAS VEGAS – Steer wrestler Bray Armes is comfortable in his surroundings at the Wrangler National Finals rodeo.
After failing to place among the top six in the first two go-rounds, Armes has gone back-to-back in Rounds 3-4. His most recent stroke of success came Sunday with a 3.6-second run on the fourth night of the rugged 10 rounds of competition, which will decide the 2012 world championship.
“It’s been great so far,” said Armes, a first-time NFR qualifier from Gruver, Texas. “We just need to keep it rolling.”
Yes, he does. Sunday’s run was worth $14,429 and marked the second straight night he finished among the top two – his 3.8 on Saturday night helped Armes share second place with Les Shepperson, a two-time NFR qualifier. In all, Armes has earned $27,091. Only four other cowboys have earned more: Casey Martin, $32,097; Billy Bugenig, $30,919; Dean Gorsuch, $28,858; and Luke Branquinho, $28,269.
Each of those men has been to the NFR before, with Gorsuch and Branquinho owning multiple gold buckles.
“My confidence is good,” Armes said. “I just want to keep staying relaxed and keep letting things happen instead of trying to make them happen. If I can do that, God will continue to bless me.”
That’s been the case much of this season. The Texan utilized first-place finishes the final two weeks of the campaign to secure his first bid to ProRodeo’s championship event, which provides a purse of $6.125 million.
This is the richest event in the sport, which is why it’s so important to have a solid performance inside the Thomas and Mack Center each night. Armes utilizes his partner, Skip, a solid palomino owned by Gorsuch.
“Skip was great,” Armes said. “He knew we had a steer we needed to take a good start in if we were going to catch him in time, and he blew in there and worked perfectly.”