A 2014 Sulphur graduate, Kade Lewis earned the right to represent Texas.
No, he’s not a traitor. He and his heeler, Jace Holder, each opted to compete in Texas, a state that has produced the last five consecutive national champions.
The duo outclassed the Lone Star state’s participants to clinch a berth in the national championships in Wyoming.
“I’m pretty proud,” Lewis said. “We’re just going to go to nationals and see what we can do.”
Lewis’ stepfather, Corey Brown, said there is quite a bit of pressure.
“To make it to nationals, first of all to even win, to be the state champion in Texas, against rodeo kids, is a pretty big accomplishment on its own,” Brown said.
“Going to nationals, with them winning it five years in a row, there’s a big target on their back.”
Lewis dismissed any notion of feeling pressure.
Lewis, his horse Lightning and Holder will begin competition in the High School National Finals Rodeo from July 13 to 19 in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
RFD-TV will broadcast the event nationally and online, wherein approximately 1,500 contestants — who finished in the top four in their respective states from the U.S., Canada and Australia — will descend in pursuit of the coveted National Champion Buckle.
Brown said his stepson practices every day, for a couple of hours, in addition to caring for the horses.
“It’s pretty much a full-time job,” Brown said.
Added his grandfather, Don: “We’re really proud of him. It’s quite an honor. It’s their business down there. Texas is where the cowboys are.
“For a 17- or 18-year-old boy, that’s in school, not everybody can handle that. He’s got quite a bit of responsibility.”
The whole town of Sulphur is proud of Lewis too, Brown added.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Lewis said. “It makes me proud.”
Lewis will continue his rodeo career in college, as he will attend Southeastern Oklahoma State on scholarship.
“You’re getting accepted for your individual talents,” Corey Brown said. “They’re athletes just like everybody else.”
Added Lewis, “It’s nice because I get to do what I love in college.”
Kade competed in 11 regional rodeos, from September 2013 to March 2014. They traveled every weekend, Don Brown said. The top 10 teams from each region qualified for the Texas State Finals in the tie-down and team roping events. Once in the finals, June 8 to 14 in Abilene, they competed against the top 100 teams in Texas.
After Kade’s 7.40-second run in the first round, he held fourth place. They turned in a second-round time of 6.90 seconds, placing them atop the leaderboard with a 7.65 average — after two rounds.
Next, the top 15 teams made it into the short-go for a 15-team shootout. Kade and Jace’s posted a time of 5.19 seconds in the final run. The duo earned the fastest time by over a second, their total time of 19.49 on three steers.
The second-place team finished with a time of 21.40.
Kade departed Abilene with three buckles and the State Championship Saddle.
Kade, the son of Rush Lewis and Jaime and Corey Brown, will first compete in the International Youth Finals Rodeo (IYFR) in Shawnee on July 6-11th.
They’ll then make the long drive to Wyoming with the town of Sulphur rooting for them.