Travis Graves is perhaps having the greatest month in team roping history: He won the American, worth $100,000, on March 1, helped Trevor Brazile to a cool $100,000 at the Timed Event Championship March 8 and then won first with Clay Tryan and fourth with Chad Masters at the George Strait Team Roping Classic March 14, worth some $170,400 and a brand new pickup and three-horse trailer.
When the soft-spoken Graves, who had never before placed higher than eighth at the Strait, called from the driver's seat brand new GMC pickup, with that Bruton three-horse in tow, he still couldn't quite grasp what he'd done.
"It's just unbelievable," Graves repeated a few times. "If I invest this right, I could be set up for the rest of my life. It seems like after all the hard work, it's all paid off in this last month."
Tryan and Graves have entered this roping at the Rose Palace together five times, with little luck as a team. But in 2015, the duo was dialed in at a roping that was getting tougher ever minute. They finished at 13.95 seconds on three head, after qualifying for the top 50 with a time of 10.85 on two the first day. Masters and Graves would finish day two 15.35 seconds on three head after a 10.2-second first day.
"Probably no one has ever won that much team roping in one month," Tryan said of his partner. "Between the American and this, he was pretty dialed in. You can tell when a guy is not going to mess up, and he dang sure looked like that yesterday.”
For Tryan, this was his second GSTRC win, both aboard his great gelding Dew. Dew has won the BFI, the George Strait (twice), the US Finals, the first three holes at the Windy Ryon, and dozens of other big checks.
"It's the way he scores," Tryan said. "There are horses that run and score, but he’s unique. Rodeos you know what you’ve got as far as the steers. Jackpotting you don’t know what they run in there. He can react so fast to the steer that breaks fast. If I mess up and go too early, I can slow him down. As soon as I can react to it, he’s gone again and on the chase. He’s the only one I’ve ever ridden that can do that. You never hardly get a bad go at the steer. If you break the barrier, it’s on you not him."
Graves rode Manny, the same sorrel gelding aboard which he won the American.
Tryan still drives the GSTRC truck he won with Patrick Smith in 2012, and plans to give both trucks to his boys to drive someday.
"If it breaks, I'm going to fix it and keep driving it," Tryan said.
Tryan hickeyed a horn to make it back to the second day of action with Jade Corkill, but Graves was perfect over the five rounds of competition. He roped every steer turned for him by two feet, including the last steer in 4.19 seconds, one of the fastest times of the roping.
"We were trying to win it," Tryan said. "It got really tough, and going at him was the difference between $30,000 and $136,000."
They'd watch from the back end as the high call team of Derrick Begay and Cory Petska would come at them full force, but they'd go out with a wave-off on the head side.
For the full story, look for our May 2015. Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/STW_Print