2019 PRCA Media Guide - 2018 World Champions
Clay Smith (header) Smith/Eaves win the
Although team roping header Clay Smith entered the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in first place and heeling partner Paul Eaves was in second – both with $115,345 – the duo had a long race ahead of them for the gold buckle. They took that long race in stride, pulling away in the latter stages of the Wrangler NFR to claim their first world championships in their respec- tive events, while setting single-season records by finishing with $289,921. Entering the Finals, Smith had a slim $392 lead over No. 2 header Kaleb Driggers, while Eaves was $591 behind Driggers’partner, Junior Nogueira. So, doing well in the average was essential. With high payoffs and fans, family and sponsors watching closely, the pressure was on for Smith and Eaves.
Round 1 was a chance to set the early tone, but during their first run, Smith and Eaves missed the steer and recorded a no time, while Driggers and Nogueira pulled into the lead. But during Round 2, Smith and Eaves posted a 4.0-second run, winning the round and pulling Smith within $3,838 of Driggers in heading and Eaves within $4,822 of Nogueira in heeling. “It sure helped to get some money the second round,”said Smith, 27.“We’re going to keep going at them and see what happens. That’s all we can do, keep making the best round we can make.” Smith and Eaves split for fifth in Round 3 and won Round 5, which enabled them to pull back into the lead of their respective events.Their 3.8-second win in the fifth roundmoved Smith and Eaves from sixth to fifth in the average.
2018 WORLD CHAMPIONS
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