The setting was the Taylor Telecom Arena. It might as well have been the set of “60 Minutes.” Brenten Hall/Paden Bray, longtime friends, but first-time team-roping partners entered the West Texas Fair & Rodeo in Abilene sitting on the bubble. Hall ranked 16th among headers. Bray sat in 14th place among heelers.
So, yeah, the importance of this event was impossible to overstate. The duo delivered with a first-place finish, clocking 8.7 seconds on two head.
“Yes sir. It was great to be back in Texas. And this win was huge,” said Bray, who hails from Stephenville, Texas. “Brenten did a great job. He got to go home, and practice and it worked out well.”
Hall qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2019 and 2021. Bray owns berths in 2020 and 2021 and won the average in 2020. Simply put, the pair knows what is at stake at this point in the season.
“We needed the win. We need to do well. Sometimes, it’s overlooked that we do this for a living, and we get to thinking how important it is that we win,” said Hall, who is from Jay, Okla. “Obviously, it’s really crucial right now. We are right there on the bubble.”
The straight line to the victory came from the cards. Both admitted that they drew good steers. The first one wasn’t known. The second one raised the stakes. In edging out a field that included Erich Rogers/Paul Eaves (9.1) and Riley Kittle/Jace Helton, Hall and Bray knew they had to capitalize.
“Both of them ended up being really good steers. Basically, we drew better than everybody else and we used them the way we were supposed to,” Hall said. “The second one I did know about. There was a little pressure to score well on that one, more than the first. And we were able to do it.”
Hall and Bray might be a new team, but not a surprising one. They grew up competing against each other in juniors and high school rodeos. So, there was an understanding that eventually they would likely team up if one of them needed a partner. Now, the goal is to make their first year a great year by securing a berth on the sport’s biggest stage in Las Vegas.
“It’s totally the goal. It’s what we came together for and what we are shooting for,” Bray said.
Added Hall, “It would mean everything. I don’t know if I could even put it into words what it would mean to do it. But if it doesn’t, I will also know it wasn’t God’s plan.”
Other winners at the $190,816 rodeo were all-around cowboy Slade Wood ($1,883, team roping and steer roping) bareback rider Will Lowe (83.5 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Lost & Found); steer wrestler Paul Melvin (7.1 seconds on two head); saddle bronc rider Bailey Small (86 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Black Gold); tie-down roper Bryce Derrer (17.4 seconds on two head); barrel racer Kassie Mowry (17.17 seconds); breakaway ropers MaryBeth Beam, Josie Conner, Samantha Fulton, Lari Dee Guy, and Kenzie Kelton (2.1 seconds each); and bull riders Dustin Boquet (87.5 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Hysteria) and Jax Mills (87.5 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Six Shooter).
-courtesy of the PRCA-