Chad Masters and Travis Graves were the only team at this year's Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to rope all 10 steers, turning in a combined time of 61.2 seconds on 10 head and placing in four of the 10 rounds worth a total of $33,000 each.
“It was one of the best NFRs that I’ve ever had,” Graves said. “Our goal was to win the average–that’s what we made our mind up to do before we got there."
While Masters was on his palomino gelding Jimmy getting every steer turned, Graves, who was on 17-year-old Manny, roped two legs, one in Round 3 to be 5.3 seconds and the other in Round 5 to be 4.2, which both would have brought them round money in each round.
“Jimmy is a good horse—that’s kind of his set up so it worked out pretty good,” Graves said. “I roped two legs and I shouldn't have done that. Our goal was to catch 10 and win what we could win and as much as we could. I just wish we would have placed and won more in the rounds.
Graves admits that the the steers are a big factor when your are trying to knock one down depending on which steer you draw. He and Masters drew three steers that really gave them a fighting chance in the rounds and others that made it more difficult to try and win rounds.
“I thought that the steers were better this year as a whole,” Graves said. “They were a little more even and a lot easier to rope. We just didn't really draw that well. I think we had three steers that were really good steers that you could be real fast on and the others were kind of hard to get by. They weren't so big and there were less barriers—it just made for a lot better team roping—that’s why the rounds were so tough. I thought it was a better team roping this year than it has been in a long time. The steers have been way too big in years before which makes it almost impossible to be dirty fast.”
Two teams that were in the average race in the last three rounds with Masters and Graves were Riley and Brady Minor and Erich Rogers and Cory Petska. The Minors took a no-time in Round 8, which gave Masters and Graves a fighting chance with just one team to worry about on 10 head. But in Round 9 Rogers ended up missing, taking them out of the 10 head average.
“We just kept the same mindset,” Graves said. “We just reacted—that’s what team roping is. You have to react to what you draw and what’s going on. If we got a good steer then the plan was to win something on him and if not then we would get by him and go onto the next one.”
Masters and Graves went into the Finals with the goal to win the average and hopefully give themselves a shot at the world title. But as the week went on, they centered their focus on the average first and foremost.
“We practiced it and talked about it,” Graves said. “Usually to have a chance to win the World you need to be first or second in the average.”
Masters and Graves are high in hopes as they head into the 2018 season looking for more horse power and forward to next years NFR.
“I’m going to rope with Chad—same deal,” Graves added. “We’re going to go at the end this year and try to do better and try to get better horses.”