Ropers Sports News | January-February 2023

PAGE 4 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira claimed their second consecutive team roping world championships in 2022. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Click Thompson Joining NFR team roping champs Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith in the winner’s circle were, left to right, PRCA CEO Tom Glause, Montana Silversmiths’ Judy Wagner and Resort World’s Luke Trusty. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Click Thompson Smith was aboard his 2022 Nutrena Heel Horse of the Year presented by AQHA, Turbo, all 10 rounds at the 2022 NFR. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Click Thompson Team Roping Records Rewritten In 2022... From Page 1 of pointing fingers and passing any blame,” said Driggers, who turned 33 on December 19. “I also want to say about Tanner’s heading at the NFR, I don’t even know if he knows the magnitude of what he did out there. I know the mentality he has, like when I was younger—foot on the throttle. It’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline of going fast when everyone else is, and Patrick does a good job mentoring. But for him to go execute, and turn 10 steers like he did is impressive to me.” Nogueira battled through some uncharacteristic challenges throughout the week. But it was his faith and their partnership that allowed him to rally through it victoriously. “Since day one, it was a tough NFR for me. I usually get there and rope pretty good, but a couple rounds in I roped some legs, then my horse stepped in my loop and it was frustrating. I had to get the ball back rolling, and thankfully, we did,” said Nogueira, who now holds three gold buckles, including his 2016 world all-around championship. “When I’m down, Kaleb picks me up. And when he’s down, I believe in him. That’s what being a team means. I don’t worry about his job, and he doesn’t worry about mine. We respect each other, and I know we are both trying as hard as we can when we back in the box.” Tomlinson and Smith are also connected more deeply than just riding in to rope together. “Our partnership is more than a partnership. It’s family. Our friendship is gold, and means way more than our partnership,” said Tomlinson, 22. “I can’t thank Patrick and his family enough. They are such a blessing to me, and it would mean the world to me to win a gold buckle with him next year.” Mirrored much like the veteran Tee Woolman taking Patrick under his wing early in his career, Patrick is assuming that role and mentoring Tomlinson through their partnership. “I’ve been telling people for a while now that he’s just getting started. Tanner is so talented. The relationship we have makes it so much more special. We put a plan together, and it took last year and this year, but it’s so gratifying to see it come through,” Smith said. “He is such a blessing to my family and career. For it to be Tanner’s first NFR and my first time back in a few years (since 2015), one of the peaks of my entire career was not only going back to the NFR, but then having the week we had.” With complete confidence in their partners, another common theme in these winning teams is their respect and admiration for their horsepower and their outlooks for the coming year to follow up their remarkable 2022 season. Driggers called on the same mount, Cuervo, that he rode to the world title at the 2021 NFR. Besides Round 3, when he jumped on his young sorrel, Oliver, it was all Cuervo again. “I was riding Cuervo in the grand entry the night of Round 3, just loping him around there getting him ready. He’s had trouble in his front feet since I bought him, and thank you to Danita Walker and Dr. Josh Harvey, who are so important in keeping him sound, but he just gave himself a stinger. I got off to get my ropes, and then walked back to meet Carlos (Kaleb and Junior’s main man), and get on during the steer wrestling. I bumped into Brady Minor, and he asked if I’d talked to Dr. Harvey, then I walked back there to get on and Cuervo wasn’t there. As the bulldogging was getting over, Carlos came trotting up on Oliver,” said Driggers, who made a businessman’s run that night to stay solid in the average (Driggers and Nogueira finished second in the average with 71.4 seconds on nine). “Cuervo worked so good, as always, and he’ll probably get even more time off next year to make sure he’s sound for the Finals next year. Our horses are so important to our success, so I’m always looking forward for good rodeo horses, and I’m ready to try to keep the ball rolling in 2023.” Nogueira, too, made a horse change at this year’s NFR. His came in Round 7, when he switched from Timon to Lucky Bucky. The change was not a reflection of Timon not working, but rather Nogueira looking to change up the luck to finish out the Finals. “My horse Timon did great. I was struggling a little bit, and we went and practiced. I had been jackpot t ing on Lucky Bucky in Arizona on our way to Vegas, so I got on him to just catch one and stay hooked,” said Nogueira. “We are very blessed to have great horses that allow us to do our jobs. That’s what it is all about is getting the best horses you can, and doing your best and see if it falls your way. Kaleb roped amazing, and my horses worked great. 2021 and 2022 are in the past now, so it’s all about 2023. Team roping is getSee TEAM ROPING NFR 2022 On Page 8

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