TJ Gray was speechless with what had happened to him minutes earlier.
The rookie bull rider won the prestigious George Paul Memorial Xtreme Bull Riding in Del Rio, Texas, Saturday night with a 173.5-point ride on two head.
“This is pretty cool, because this event is so historic,” said Gray, 19. “This means a little bit more than just another bull riding, so this feels really good.”
This was the 43rd edition of the Division 1 event and Gray put his name on a champions list that includes ProRodeo Hall of Famers Denny Flynn, Charlie Sampson, Lane Frost and Tuff Hedeman.
“This is incredible, I’m at a loss for words,” Gray said. “I’m happy to be riding good. I was relaxing and having fun, and to come out with the win was great at a bigger event like this.”
Gray started his improbable victory performance with an 87.5-point ride on 4L & Diamond S Rodeo’s Three Days in the long round.
“I had never been on that bull before, but my brother, Levi, had and when the draw came out, he told me I had a bucker,” TJ said. “I don’t like to know too much about (my bulls) and it turned good for me.”
Gray’s ride in the long round set the stage for when he climbed aboard Stockyards Pro Rodeo’s Silver Lining in the short round.
“I didn’t know who that bull was and then I heard the announcer say Stetson (Wright) rode him at the NFR,” Gray said. “As soon as he said that I knew exactly which bull he was. It was a cool bull ride. I was excited when I got off, but Sage Kimzey and Trevor Kastner still had to ride, and I didn’t expect either of those guys to get bucked off. I sure didn’t think I was going to win it. When they both bucked off, I couldn’t believe it.”
Wright, the reigning PRCA all-around and bull riding world champion, won Round 1 at the 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with a 90.5-point ride on Silver Lining at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Dec. 3.
Although Gray is going to receive a boost in the PRCA | RAM World Standings after earning $8,118 in Del Rio – he was 27th in the May 17 standings with $12,798 – he is staying grounded.
“I don’t like to think about the (world standings) too much,” Gray said. “I was stressing too much about trying to make the NFR, and lately I have just been not really caring. I have been just enjoying where I’m at and not thinking about tomorrow or making the NFR. I’ve been just enjoying the bull I’ve been getting on and it has been working out better for me.”
Article Courtesy of PRCA
Photo By: Kay Miller