Benton Bounces Back for His Third National Finals Rodeo

“Thank you to all the men and women who have served over the years, I'm very appreciative with the life I get to live because of them,” Trey Benton via Facebook - November 11, 2014.

This life Trey Benton is talking about began on October 17, 1991. Benton was born with undeniable gifts, a jumble of DNA that bestowed on him a boyish charm, a scanning intelligence, and a python-thick arm that I am not sure whether he got from his Dad, roping calves, or hundreds of hours in the gym.

The 2012 PRCA Rookie of the Year is the kind of guy that brings friends Starbucks, pulls trinkets from his rigging bag, passing them out like candy to the young fans after a big win, and seems to enjoy life in and out of the rodeo arena.

Nonetheless, of all the traits Benton was born with, the one that has served him best, during months of multiple injury recoveries followed by insanely competitive comebacks, isn’t his analytical mind or his physical strength, but his painstaking temperament.

“Just goes to show you every moment of every second counts,” said Benton recently after he bucked off before the whistle to lose 50,000 at the CBR’s Conroe Bull Mania.

He may not have won the $50,000 that night but winning is something Benton is very familiar with.  

Circa 2014, the boyish Benton has faded; in its place is a man with a fighter’s face and eyes of steel, hair cut short and a facial expression closed shut, refusing to show any signs of personal doubts to the  opponent, regardless of whether they are two or four legged.

Preparing for his third National Finals Rodeo during his tenure as a cowboy with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Trey Benton will enter the arena as the number two ranked cowboy in the world... again.

Benton is no stranger to the winner’s circle finishing the 2014 season as the number 2 ranked bull rider in the CBR as well as the PRCA. The Rock Island, Texas native who grew up working on his Dad’s ranch, staged the ultimate comeback to qualify and hang on to the CBR World Finals in the #2 position.

In April, he joined Lane Frost in the history books as the only two bull riders to win back to back George Paul Memorial Bull Riding Championships, after missing the start of the 2014 season he returned in March at the CBR Laughlin event and never looked back. He got hot in both the CBR and PRCA competitions. In five CBR events this season, he won three. Those wins include Bossier City, Fort Worth, and Del Rio. He also had a second in Laughlin and fifth-place finish in Las Vegas.

Benton's statistics this season were almost hard to believe. Hearing the whistle 58.6 percent of the time in 2014, Benton rode 17 out of 19 bulls on the Road to Cheyenne and ten of those rides were 90 points or better. His CBR season-high is 92.5 points on Corpus Red (Laughlin) and Gold Buckle (Fort Worth), respectively. He made it to the Final Four Shootout Round at five of the six events he competed in and to say he's been tough to get on the ground is a huge understatement. Benton rode four out of five bulls in Cheyenne to finish just behind Kimzey in the final CBR 2014 World Standings.

“I am just going to do the best I can with the way I am now,” said Benton after one of his tour event wins…which may end up being better than anyone has ever done it.


Keeping the Injuries in Perspective

As an athlete Benton has always been one of the most curious bull riders. After following and interviewing him for three consecutive years he now appears to be mentally tougher, compulsively meticulous, a turn-over-every-stoner.

He seems aware of the standings as an analytical tool, studies the bulls, and makes adjustments on the bull and in life at the half… similar to an NBA basketball coach.

It is this level of professionalism that helped him cope when he finally encountered a problem he couldn’t solve with his arm strength. It seems while his athleticism was taken away while healing, his mental toughness increased.

It was his last rodeo of the 2013 regular PRCA season and he was up in Puyallup, Wash.

It was not his last scheduled rodeo of the regular season with almost a month left on the PRCA qualifying schedule.

“It was the first weekend of September,” Benton recalled. “I was riding a bull named Blue Light Special. I actually made (the whistle) on my ride and scored 87 points, but when I went to get off, he stepped on my leg and just snapped my femur in half.”

“I really thought I won the rodeo with that ride, but I took second, and I was madder about that than breaking my leg,” he said. “I thought I’d won that deal.”

“I was on my butt the whole time after it happened. I tried to move, and the bone just rubbed together, and my leg was laying funny on the side,” Benton said. “I knew I wasn’t getting up and going anywhere. It was pretty broke.”

Healing was a concern to Benton but remaining in the top 15 and saving his NFR slot was more important at the moment.

“Oh, of course I was worried. I was in 14th before I broke my leg, and I came out 12th after that ride,” said Benton, who earned $12,000 for mangling his femur. “And there was three weeks left in the season. It was frustrating sitting in the hospital, wondering how many guys would pass me up.”

Benton is not the kind of guy that sits around the house, usually racing from a bull riding out to a steer wrestling or calf roping gig, Benton was forced to watch the NFR qualifying via the internet.

“I was sitting on my couch with crutches next to me,” said Benton, 22. “You never root for guys to get bucked off. I was just hoping the odds would be more in my favor. I was sweating it out that last weekend. I just kept watching the results to see the money standings.

“The final standings showed I was still in 13th — nobody else had won enough. When I realized that, I was just like, ‘Yes, I did it.’ ”

But with only three months on the calendar that infamous strong willed Benton temperament kicked in.

“The doctor who fixed it said it could be healed in three months,” Benton said. “Me and my dad did the math right there on the calendar, and I knew I’d have a good chance of making the Finals. Right then and there, the deal was, can I get healed enough to do the Finals?”

“I didn’t know if I could do it,” Benton said.

A chance to compete is all he wanted.

“You get to Vegas and the NFR, you have the best 15 guys at the best place,” Benton said. “You can’t count anybody out. The guy in 15th can storm through and win the title. It’s anybody’s ballgame here.”

If you read Trey Benton’s resume the only thing missing seems to be a PRCA World Championship title, it is actually hard to imagine that he has not won one yet…Good luck Trey!


2014 PRCA Highlights

2014 world standings place: 2nd

2014 earnings: $125,547

Tour Finale qualifications: 2 (2012, 2014) • Won the Wrangler Champions Challenge Finale (Omaha, Neb.)

• Won the Sheridan (Wyo.) WYO Rodeo

• Won the West of the Pecos (Texas) Rodeo

• Won the Lewiston (Idaho) Roundup

• Won the Gladewater (Texas) Round-Up Division 2 Xtreme Bulls

• Won Rodeo de Santa Fe (N.M.)

• Co-champion at the Days of '47 Rodeo (Salt Lake City, Utah)


2013 Highlights

2013: Won Round 5 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with a 90.5-point ride on Andrews Rodeo's Gun and Juice; finished 13th in the world standings with $91,959. Won California Rodeo Salinas and the Ellensburg (Wash.) Rodeo; co-champion at the World's Oldest Rodeo (Prescott, Ariz.)


2012 Highlights

2012: Placed in two rounds of his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo debut and finished ninth in the world standings. Won the Red Bluff (Calif.) Round-Up; the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.); the Dodge City (Kan.) Round-Up; the Rooftop Rodeo (Estes Park, Colo.) with a 91-point ride on D&H Cattle's No. 72; the Guadalupe County Fair and Rodeo (Seguin, Texas); the Rio Grande Livestock Show & Rodeo (Mercedes, Texas); the SW District Fat Stock Show & Rodeo (Lake Charles, La.) and the Crossett (Ark.) Riding Club PRCA Rodeo. Co-champion at the Sikeston (Mo.) Jaycee Boot heel Rodeo and the Eagle (Colo.) County Fair & Rodeo


Championship Bull Riding Career Highlights

2012 Las Vegas Champ

           Bay City Champion

            Giddings Champ

            13th Final World Standings

2013 Lufkin Champion

           Del Rio Champion

           6th Place Final World Standings       

2014   Del Rio Champion

            Ft. Worth, Champion

            Final World Standings – 2nd Place

2015   Conroe, Texas Champion


National Collegiate Rodeo Association

2012 NIRA - 4th place

2012 Southern Region Champion Bull Rider

Wharton Jr. College - All Around Champion