LAS VEGAS —
Travis Graves, a team roping heeler from Jay, had some hard luck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but still finished number three in the world.
Graves came into the finals wearing back number 11, which means he was the 11th-highest money winner for the year at $110,067. He was ranked number two as a heeler.
Graves and his header Kaleb Driggers, Albany, Ga., did win some go around money in Las Vegas: second in the fourth go, fourth in the fifth go, third in the eighth go and first in the ninth for a total of $52,283.25 each, but they finished out of the money in the average at 10th. The team was 46 seconds flat on six head. They missed in rounds two, six, seven and 10.
The team got a big boost in round nine Friday night by winning with the event’s fastest time of the week, clocking 3.6 seconds to pick up $18,630 apiece.
“I thought we could win the round, but I didn’t think we could be 3.6,” said Graves. “Things have got to be perfect for that.” That meant the team still had a shot at the world title, but it was not to be. They missed in the last round.
The team’s total payout was not paultry, but with $6.25 million up for grabs at the finals, there is a lot of money on the line.
Graves, 29, married his wife Tamika in 2005. His son, Tee, was born in 2012. His father, Ronnie, is a rancher and horse trainer and his mother, Teresa, is a middle school teacher.
The finals commentators made much of the fact that next year, Graves and Driggers will split their roping partnership as will Trevor Brazile and Patrick Smith. Brazile will now head for Graves and Smith will heel behind Driggers.