In 1954, Olin Young started his professional rodeo career at Pecos, Texas. From there, the young cowboy competed in, and placed in all the major […]
On the Trail with Brenten Hall and Jake Clay
Written by: Lindsay Whelchel< Back to Articles
Brenten Hall and Jake Clay may as well be brothers. They both come from rodeo families and they’ve grown up together as best friends. Both handy with a rope, it only made sense that the two 17-year-old cowboys should team up together in their professional rodeo careers. And if this year in the International Professional Rodeo Association is any indication, it was a smart move.
Both Brenten and Jake will be heading to the International Finals Rodeo this January in Oklahoma City to compete as two of the youngest in the field of competitors from the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Brenten and Jake met around the age of 7 and were quickly rodeoing together. “I don’t ever remember not roping or being around it. When I was little I went to rodeos with my mom and dad. It is just something that I do, I don’t see myself doing something different,” Jake describes of rodeo. His entrance into the IPRA was natural too. Both his father Dwayne and mother Julana are multi-time IFR qualifiers, his dad as a header in the team roping and his mom as a barrel racer. She won Rookie of the Year back in 1986 and continued on from there. Brenten’s mom LeAnna ran barrels and team roped, like Jake’s parents, his father Bob was also a multi-time IFR qualifier and team roping director for IPRA. Bob passed his love of roping on and coached Brenten to where he is today. Sadly, Bob passed away in 2015 from pancreatic cancer. Now they rope in his honor.
Brenten and Jake grew up doing junior rodeos locally and have both gone into high school rodeo, but have quickly made a name for themselves as professional competitors too. This is Jake’s second year in the IPRA and Brenten’s rookie year. They have focused on preparation and practicing while they have done home school through high school.
“We’re both homeschooled so it made it a lot easier. We couldn’t have done this if we couldn’t home school. We’d have had too many absent days, but you can kind of get ahead and prepare for what’s happening and take off for the weekend and not have to worry about it,” Brenten describes. He adds that his season had a slow start. “It’s been real fun. There were some very hard times. I went through some stuff I couldn’t figure anything out, I was having a hard time, I was missing, but the worst part about it is I felt like was letting my partners down, because I don’t do very good with that stuff,” he admits.
Then things turned around for the team. “I wasn’t doing very good then come about Pawnee rodeo it just kind of worked. I won 1st and third there and that shot me in 17th or 18th in the world, and then I got to where I thought, ‘you know, I’ve got to go, I’ve got to try to make it [to IFR] since I went this far, closer than I was, not there, but closer than I was,” Brenten says.
He and Jake make a good team for organizing a pro-rodeo career. “Pro-rodeoing has been fun, a lot of ups and downs. Entering, I still have zero clues whatsoever, I think I entered one rodeo,” Brenten says and adds of Jake, “he’s done every entering job, I just kind of tell him where I think we should go and then he does it whichever way it’s supposed to be done,” he laughs.
Jake chimes in humorously that he also does all of the driving, to which Brenten replies, he looks after the animals. In reality, they get along well. “Neither one of us demands anything very often. Neither one of us are really that organized whatsoever. It takes us a good two hours to figure out how we want to go [to rodeos] just two a weekend but [our] moms take care of us,” Brenten laughs. Jokes aside, both acknowledge the great support they get from their families and sponsors. Brenten would like to thank his sponsors, Classic Ropes and Horselic, and Jake would like to thank Mid-States Industrial Sales and Tulsa Stockyards.
The fact that Brenten and Jake are both laidback, works great for their team dynamic. They can hardly recall ever fighting, maybe twice, they agree. And the sport of team roping is unique they realize, because, as Jake explains, “It makes you want to try harder because you know your partner is trying just as hard, and if you mess up you let not only yourself, but him down too.”
The boys split their days between school work and practicing. Jake also trains horses with his dad, and Brenten’s family has cattle and owns the local feed store in their town of Jay, in northeastern Oklahoma. Jake lives closer to the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the town of Sapulpa. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes-drive between their towns, but they practice together when they can, when they’re not on the road competing, which isn’t a lot now days. They’re usually gone every weekend to a rodeo.
Both Jake and Brenten credit their horses for helping them get where they are. Jake mostly rides a 10-year-old sorrel gelding he’s competed on for the past four years, and is special because his dad trained the horse. And Brenten’s main horse is a paint he actually bought off of Jake a couple of years ago.
Another component to success for the boys is a positive mindset. “[You’ve] just got to be humble in everything, because you could win one day and then not win for three weeks or however long,” Jake says and cites his favorite quote, ‘if you want to be the best, you’ve got to do things other people aren’t willing to do.” As for Brenten, he thinks of the saying, ‘if you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, you’ll be successful.’ “I think that’s something you should live by if you try to win,” he says and adds another motto, “for a successful Plan A is not have a Plan B’ so keep after that plan A, practicing a lot, keep your head down, keep going for it.”
Those mottos are clearly working for both Brenten and Jake. Beyond qualifying for the IFR, Brenten split the $100,000 win at the USTRC in October in Oklahoma City, “it was exciting, I wouldn’t know any other way to put it. I’m still kind of bumfuzzled over it,” Brenten says of that win. “I needed something, some kind of money so I could keep going and maybe get another horse, and it ended up coming through, and it helped,” he says but adds, “That money sure is good, but winning, the success, is what makes you happy.”
And in December, the team saw even more success. Together, Jake and Brenten roped to a first place finish and a $150,000 paycheck at the World Series of Team Roping #15 Finale.
Impressive accomplishments for two teenage high school kids.
Both boys will be soon looking to colleges and college rodeo, as well as continued success, but for January, all the focus is on the International Finals Rodeo, Jan. 13-15, 2017 in Oklahoma City.