But as 14-year-old Brett Stuart of Bridgeport prepared for the start of the Texas Junior High Rodeo Association season Saturday in Graham, he did not slow in his tenacity. He plans to work just as hard, aiming for a repeat of last year.
”I’m going for another national title,” the Paradise eighth grader said.
Stuart and his roping partner, Tyson Thompson of Munday, concluded the 2012 season with a National High School Rodeo Association Junior Division title in team roping in early July. The finals were in Gallup, N.M.
The duo narrowly missed a national bid the season before. But Stuart’s family considered that divine intervention that allowed them to return home to be with a sick family member. Stuart’s grandfather, Harold Eugene Allison, died a couple of weeks later.
“We had a pretty horrible year last year,” his mother Tennille Green said. “This year was not much better … but we overcame the odds and here we are.”
After getting off to a “hot start,” winning top-place finishes in each of the first four competitions, Stuart was unable to to get many times until the first round of region finals.
Fortunately, he found his groove when it mattered most.
At region finals March 30 through April 1 in Glen Rose, Stuart finished third for the year, qualifying for state in all five events in which he participates – chute dogging, goat tying, ribbon roping, calf roping and team roping.
Two months later, in Gonzales May 28 through June 2, Stuart again finished third in state. He made it to the short-go in three events, qualifying for nationals in two – ribbon roping and team roping.
At Nationals, Stuart and Thompson made a strong showing in the team roping – clocking an 8.914 seconds in the first round, 7.973 in the third and 13.561 in the short-go (with a lug). He, however, failed to earn a time in ribbon roping.
“I guess he sacrificed one to win the other,” his proud mother said.
Just before the state competition, the family struggled to find replacements for horses involved in an accident – one of which was frequently used in competitions. They found a replacement, Punch, but he had to be put down last weekend after chipping a bone and crushing the cartilage in his ankle during the “rodeo off-season.”
Now the family is in search of another equine. But fortunately, they’ve filled another void that arose at the end of last season.
With Thompson moving into the high school ranks, Stuart needed a new partner.
“For the kids, it’s hard to find a roping partner that you get along with, that the parents get along, that you have confidence in, who is at the same level of roping as you,” Green said. “They are few and far between.”
Stuart will be competing with a former partner, Hayden Bray of Granbury.
“He roped with him as a fifth grader,” Green said. “We are excited.”
As he begins a new season, the family hopes for a smoother ride. Regardless, they know they can overcome any challenges that arise. They’ve done so before.
“We had to get over a lot of humps to get to where we are,” Green said. “But we made it. He worked his tail off to get over those humps and win that national title. And that’s what matters.”