By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (April 3, 2016) — Bareback rider Clint Mayo of Stephenville wrapped up a perfect Region III rodeo season Sunday and will be joined by a handful of other local athletes at the Texas High School Rodeo Association state finals.
“We’ve rodeo’d all year and this kind of wraps things up as far as the region goes,” said Mayo, a senior who advanced from state to the National High School Rodeo Association finals last year. “I’m really looking forward to state and getting back to nationals and trying to win something there.”
Mayo won every round of every rodeo in Region III competition this season, and this weekend at the regional finals was no different. He took the first round with 69 points, the second with 67 and the finals championship with the combined 136 on two at Lone Star Arena.
But Mayo won’t be alone on the journey to Abilene. Not even close.
Presli Bray, a sophomore at Huckabay, is advancing in three events – goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping. The sophomore won the finals in the goat tying and is second in the year-end regional standings.
“I’m just so blessed to be able to do what I do,” said Bray, also a basketball star at HHS. “It’s a challenge balancing things, but I do the best I can and try to get in practice for both. Basketball and rodeo are what I do, I love it.
“Last year I was a freshman and I was definitely a little nervous at state,” Presli admits. “This year I’m just going to try to have fun and do what I do.”
And Presli will have cousins Paden and Wyatt Bray there to help and encourage her in Abilene.
Paden Bray, a heeler, won the year-end team roping title along with header Ty Harris, and is also state bound in calf roping after winning the finals in that event. Paden was even awarded for helping younger rodeo competitors in the region during an awards presentation following the second and final go-round Sunday.
Wyatt Bray also qualified for state in team roping, furthering the Bray family success in the arena.
“Having the whole family involved is a huge contribution to our success,” Presli Bray said. “All of us love and help each other, and Paden gives me little pep talks before everything I do. The whole family is just so supportive of all of us.”
It’s a family event for all the local athletes that made it. Clint Mayo is no exception.
“I have my little brother (Clayton Mayo) riding, too,” said Clint, whose father, Beau Mayo, is a former bareback rider himself. “And it’s not just our real family, here we’re all a rodeo family. Everyone is friends and everybody knows everybody.”
They all know Sy Felton, Jarrod Lee and Lariat Larner, state qualifiers from Stephenville. Felton is moving on in calf roping and steer wrestling, Lee advanced in saddle bronc riding and Larner is headed to Abilene for goat tying and breakaway roping after a long battle with knee injuries in recent seasons.
“This was a really exciting weekend because it’s the end of my journey in high school and now I’m looking forward to college,” said Larner, who has signed to compete for South Plains College in Lubbock. “It has been quite a journey and I’ve had a few set backs, but I think I’m just as strong or stronger now than ever before, and I can do everything just the way I used to, hopefully even better.”
Larner was third in the finals in goat tying and fourth in breakaway. Sarah Callaway of Dublin is also headed to state in goat tying.
If there is anything Clint Mayo has learned, the local competitors should be proud of their accomplishments in Region III, believed by many to be the best region in Texas.
“We have a lot of bareback riders and probably more total rough stock riders than a lot of other regions,” he pointed out. “The roping and all the timed events are tough here, it’s a great region.”
And he’s aware the state competition will be even more tough.
“It’s hard to get in the top four and to move on to nationals,” he said. “It’s a lot of work getting ready, and then everything has to go right when you get there.”
There will be plenty of locals looking for things to go right at Abilene’s Taylor County Expo Center June 5-11 as they vie for spots in the top four to advance to the national finals in Gillette, Wyoming in July.
“We’re all looking forward to state, it’s a lot of fun and good competition,” said Larner. “I’m just trying to be one of the seniors in that last go round.”