Dreams do come true.
Stockton breakaway roper Braydin Evans prevailed against 109 other highly skilled ropers last week to win a national championship.
His three times at the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo in Des Moines, Iowa equaled 7.33 seconds to edge out Denton Oestmann of Auburn, Nebraska whose times tallied 7.85 seconds.
“Man, I just can’t believe it happened,” Braydin said.
The 13-year-old roper got off to an excellent start through the first two rounds to reach the finals.
“The top 20 after two rounds compete in the finals,” he said. “I was in first-place so I was the final roper. The guy ahead of me ran just under 3 seconds so I knew I needed to run under 3 seconds to win.”
Braydin roped the calf in 2.58 seconds in the final round to secure the national title in breakaway roping.
The young rodeo cowboy has worked hard and traveled long distances to learn his skill and to compete against other top ropers.
Braydin, his father Marvin and mother Kristy were extremely happy after the first two rounds. They felt the trip to the nationals was a success regardless of what happened the final night of the rodeo last Saturday.
“You sort of dream about this type of thing happening, but never really think it will,” Kristy said. “It’s really hard to believe.”
Braydin said he too was a bit amazed that things worked out the way they did.
“I was quite relaxed for the final round because everything had gone so well leading up to it,” Braydin said. “I was more nervous at the first of rodeo than in the finals.”
It was a different story for his father who said his nerves were a bit frayed. “I was a lot more nervous before the final round than Braydin,” Marvin said.
A few days earlier Braydin had won money in an additional “jackpot” round prior to the finals so everything was going his way.
The young cowboy may have been relaxed because under 3 seconds is quite attainable for this 13-year-old roper. His top time is 1.87 seconds which he clocked at a winter rodeo in Salina, Utah.
With this big victory, Braydin increased his saddle collection to 14. He’s won more than 50 belt buckles.
Braydin seemed to be in the proverbial grove from the start of the national rodeo.
“He never backed off,” Marvin said. “He had the start down from the first go.”
A major part of this roping success story is Braydin’s new horse Titan.
“The horse was given to us last February in St. George. The owner said the horse was struggling a bit and had had a broken foot, but we could have it,” Kristy said. “The owner told us the horse would buck. I thought this is just what we need: somebody’s ‘problem’ horse.”
Braydin wanted to work with the horse, so the Evans’ took the horse.
“I thought if things didn’t work out we could give it away,” Kristy said.
“He had some teeth problems so we floated his teeth,” Marvin said. He explained Titan’s teeth were hurting him, which probably caused him to buck. He said floating the teeth meant filing them down so the bridle would fit him more comfortably and not cause any pain.
“Titan has been fantastic. How things have worked out with him — it’s the best part of the story,” Kristy said.
“A lot of horses have troubles, but Titan was great on our trip to Iowa. He has been incredible,” Marvin said.
Bit N Spur Rodeo Chairman Jim Harrell has observed young rodeo performers from Tooele County for several years, and said the current list includes potential stars.
“It goes in spurts, but these kids now are very good. We were down for a couple of years. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had a national champion,” Harrell said.
Rush Valley’s Wyatt Ahlstrom also had a fantastic rodeo with a 10th-place finish in breakaway roping. His three times tallied 16.19 seconds.
Utah Junior High School All-Around Champion Dawson Stewart of Erda finished 13th in the chute dogging. He also finished 22nd in team roping with Brynlee Lindsey of Ogden.