The 31st Annual George Strait Team Roping Classic, held March 9th & 10th, started out with 690 teams this year. This is by far the best paying open roping of the year with $180,000 in cash and prizes per man for first place.

On Friday, the total number of teams is divided by 10 and then split into rotations. The top five teams of each rotation advance and start Saturday’s three-head roping with a clean slate. It makes the strategy a little tricky because in one rotation you might need to be 10.0 on two-head and in another you might only need to be 14 on two.

This year I roped with Clay O’Brien Cooper, Kollin Von Ahn, and Travis Graves. Clay and I were 12.05 on two and did not make it back in our bracket. Kollin and I were 5.8 on our first steer in what looked like a pretty tough rotation. I broke the barrier on our second steer. Without the barrier we would have needed to be 5.7.

Travis and I were 4.7 and 5.6 and made it back in our rotation. It is a huge accomplishment to make it back and have an opportunity to win over $100,000 for a single day’s activity. When we rode out of the arena I told him that I like to rope aggressive on Saturday to give myself a chance to win first. He said he had always wanted to win this roping.

On Saturday they brought in fifty of the bigger and stouter black steers. Some walked, some ran and they were pretty tricky. You really have to be able to react to what the steer does when the gate opens.

Our first steer didn’t start, then tried, and as I threw, he ducked to the left. It was a very lucky head loop and we were 5.4 on our first steer. Our second steer came left hard and we made a good run and were 5.0 flat.

In the short round we were fourth call back. Now there are four teams within a second in front of us, and three teams after we go, that are within half a second of us. So pretty much it’s a one-header for $130,000. I actually felt pretty confident and enjoy the challenge of getting to rope a steer for that much money.

This challenge was I had to be 5.0 or 5.1 to take the lead and I still had three teams after me. First paid $130,000, plus a truck and trailer, versus $25,000 for fourth. All the hours spent in the practice pen and coming over top of the chute are for this exact situation. 

I got a good start and got it on as fast as I could. When I grabbed my slack, I grabbed my right rein along with my rope. So when I pulled my slack, it pulled the rope out of my hand causing me to miss my slack and my rope bounced off the left horn.

Certainly I was bummed that I missed. You can’t help but feel bad that you cost yourself and your partner that much money. Still, I have no regrets how I went about it. I can catch that steer nine out of ten times and spin him to win the roping. I’ve won this roping three times and it’s the first time I’ve been in the position to win and failed on the last steer.

In this sport we all fail more than we succeed. 690 teams started with the opportunity to win first. Fifty made it back and only one team was successful. Congratulations to Garrett Tonozzi and Dugan Kelly for capturing the 2013 GSTRC Champion title and driving out with the trucks, trailers, and cash.

It is so important to practice and prepare for specific scenarios. You need to have confidence when you back in the box and know what you can and can’t do. It will be a long time before I forget grabbing my reins with my slack. Though it rarely happens, I will be studying how to prevent this from happening again.

What’s new with me: We are headed to California to the Hork Dog roping, Logandale, Oakdale, Red Bluff, and Clovis rodeos. All of my runs from the George Strait, Houston, and Austin are free to watch at speedroping.com. We will be putting up runs from the California rodeos as they happen. 

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