To say Blake Bentley’s rodeo career at Weatherford College has been fraught with challenges outside the arena would be an understatement.
But it hasn’t kept him from being successful, including winning the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region team roping championship this season with partner Lane Cooper. It marks the 16th consecutive season in which WC has qualified competitors for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.
However, the quest for a national championship was denied to both when the NIRA canceled the season midway through the spring portion of the schedule.
“I am devastated it was canceled,” Bentley said. “I had worked hard all year long, and was very excited to get to attend the CNFR again.”
It was his second consecutive year to qualify after almost not being alive to compete at all. Three weeks into his freshman season at WC he was in an auto accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
“I was told I would never be able to ride or rope again, but I knew I would,” Bentley said, stressing that team roping is his favorite event and that love inspired his recovery. “Ever since I was a young child all I ever wanted to do was be a team roper and be the best I could be.
“Laying in the hospital bed I told myself and my parents I would rope again, and I wanted to come back better and stronger than before.”
And he did, continuing his love for a sport he started in when he was a youngster.
“It is amazing to see where he was right after the accident to making the CNFR last year to winning the Southwest Region this year after placing at all six rodeos (as did Cooper),” WC Rodeo Coach Johnny Emmons said.
“Blake’s a winner, hard worker and very talented heeler. He and Lane had a plan to set the school record in points this year, and they were well on their way to getting it done before the season got canceled.”
Bentley and his teammates were granted an extra year of eligibility at WC by the NIRA. He is deciding on a possible return, he said, but, wherever he lands, he plans to major in agricultural business.
He is also considering competing on the professional rodeo circuit.
“I would love the opportunity to rodeo professionally. It is what I have worked for my whole life,” he said. “But it costs so much to travel up and down the road.”
However, his history shows that if it something he wants, Bentley will find a way.