When the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo concludes each year, one prestigious award that’s handed out is the average buckle.
Winning the average means a competitor turns in the fastest aggregate time on 10 runs or finishes with the highest combined score after 10 rides.
On the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association circuit, world titles are based on money earnings throughout the regular season and at the NFR. With that in mind, a competitor can win the NFR average buckle but fall short of clinching the world title.
For example, Bray Armes of Ponder won the 2013 National Finals steer wrestling average with a 10-run time of 44.8 seconds. But he finished third in the 2013 world title race with annual earnings of $157,254, $16,101 behind Hunter Cure of Holliday.
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Though winning the NFR average buckle isn’t as prestigious as snaring a world title, it’s a remarkable accomplishment. The NFR features the top 15 in each event and winning the average means a rider was the best among an all-star cast.
Winning the average is lucrative. At the 2013 NFR, the average champion in each event pocketed $47,776.
Armes was among three Fort Worth area competitors who won average titles at the Las Vegas championships. The other two were Stephenville cowboys Luke Brown (team roping heading) and Jacobs Crawley (saddle bronc riding).
In team roping, no duo made a qualified run against all 10 steers. Brown and his partner Kollin VonAhn finished with the best aggregate time on nine runs. After competing in Round 10 Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center, Brown and VonAhn edged Turtle Powell and Dugan Kelly in the average race, 56.2 to 73.7 seconds.
In the world race, Brown finished the year with $171,159, $8,259 behind Clay Tryan who finished No. 1.
In saddle bronc riding, Crawley clinched the average with a combined score of 778.5 points on 10 head. The victory helped him finish fourth in the world title race with $179,446, $24,986 behind champion Chad Ferley.
In bull riding, Cody Teel of Kountze won the average after finishing as the only rider who stayed on eight bulls. However, J.W. Harris of Mullin claimed his fourth PRCA bull riding title after edging Teel in annual earnings, $252,829 to $224,073.
Three riders won both the average and world title: Kaycee Feild, bareback riding; Sherry Cervi, barrel racing (NFR record 138.15 on 10 runs) and Shane Hanchey, tie-down roping (NFR record of 80.1).
Meanwhile, 2013 world all-around champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur finished second in the tie-down roping average (83.2) and earned $38,762, which pushed his career earnings past $5 million. He’s the PRCA’s first $5 million cowboy.