Maybe he was just showing off or maybe it was a happy accident, but Paul Eaves pantyhosed the final steer of he and Clay Smith's four-year partnership to win the PRCA Team Roping World Championship, placing third in Round 10 with a 4.4-second run.
That last steer moved Smith and Eaves up one hole in the average from fourth to third, after Rhen Richard and Quinn Kesler, who were ahead of them going into the round, failed to get a time. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira—who were $33,965.99 and $32,973.14 behind Smith and Eaves going into the go-round but were second in the average—moved to second in the go-round with a 4.1 behind Tyler Wade and Cole Davison's 3.9-round-winning run.
"We had kind of figured if (Kaleb and Junior) would win the round, we would maybe have to place," Eaves said. "With them winning second, I didn't quite know. So I figured I would just do the same thing. Winging it! And I figured he was too. It was happening fast, and I didn't know how fast we were."
Clay's little brother Britt was supposed to be standing next to him to tell him what he needed to do, but Britt ended up on Eaves' side of the divided Priefert alley as the round went on, so Smith decided to just go for it.
"In this building, for us, the best thing to do is hit the barrier, and I was a little late, and I reached a little bit," Smith said. "I didn't do a very good job. Paul hammered him."
"I wish I could do that on purpose," Eaves laughed. "I was just trying to get something down there!"
Smith rode his 11-year-old grey, grade gelding Marty, who he rode the bulk of ProRodeo's regular season. Eaves rode Guapo, the 12-year-old gelding registered as Sting A Little by Boon A Little out of Playboys Stinger. Guapo had been to just a few rodeos and was mainly a jackpot horse before the Finals.
"I'll probably ride him at a few more rodeos next year," Eaves said. "He's done good this week."
Smith and Eaves set a year-end earnings record, winning $289,921.48 each on the season. Driggers and Nogueira finished second in the PRCA world standings with $272,464.48. NFR average winners Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates finished the year third with $212,506.03 and $226,900.48, respectively.
"Kaleb and Junior roped great," Smith said. "They're a great team. So for it to come down to us two, man, that teams awesome."
The win means a lot to the Smith and Eaves families, too, who have spent decades tirelessly supporting their boys.
"I know they were more nervous than me and Paul," Smith said. "I was trying not to think about it too much. It was just another cow, it really was. But at the end, you look up and see them, and they were kind of freaking out all day long."
"This is what we love to do, but they sacrifice a lot for us," Eaves added. "For my mom and dad, from when I was little, taking me around. My wife now, and everything she's done. I know it means a lot."
Smith and Eaves will split up in 2019, with Smith roping with Jake Long and Eaves heeling for Luke Brown. They will be the second consecutive gold buckle team to split following their title.
"I was saying before this, if we could win it, it's all good," Eaves said. TRJ
Round 10 Team Roping Results:
1. Tyler Wade and Cole Davison, 3.9 seconds, $26,230.77 each
2. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.1 seconds, $20,730.77 each
3. Clay Smith and Paul Eaves, 4.4 seconds, $15,653.85 each
4/5. Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan, 4.9 seconds, $8,884.61 each
4/5. Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, 4.9 seconds, $8,884.61 each
6. Riley Minor and Brady Minor, 5.1 seconds, $4,230.77
NFR Team Roping Average Results:
1. Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates, 69.60 seconds on 10 head, $67,269.23 each
2. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 45.50 seconds on 9 head, $54,576.92 each
3. Clay Smith and Paul Eaves, 34.50 seconds on 8 head, $43,153.85 each
4. Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, 58.29 seconds on 8 head, $31,730.77 each
5. Derrick Begay and Cory Petska, 60.00 seconds on 8 head, $22,846.15 each
6. Rhen Richard and Quinn Kesler, 73.60 seconds on 8 head, $16,500 each
7. Erich Rogers and Clint Summers, 50.90 seconds on 7 head, $11,423.08 each
8. Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison, 80.10 seconds on 7 head, $6,346.15 each