Postage Pre-Paid TIME DATED MATERIAL – DO NOT DELAY ROPERS SPORTS NEWS NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022 VOL. 54, NO. 9 $2.50 “The Original Team Roping Publication” Official Publication Of ACTRA Pacific Coast Shootouts WTRA Kreece Powell and Logan Anseth hit the jackpot in Reno with their huge win of the Wrangler Patriot Super 7 Roping. They not only won $10,000 each but also Thuro-Bilt 3-horse trailers and championship Skyline buckles. Presenting their awards are Mike Nizzoli from California Custom Trailers, trailer sponsor; Ty Rogers, outgoing ACTRA President and Mike Piland from Cactus Ropes. – Andersen C Bar C Photo Wrangler/Professional’s Choice ACTRA National Finals Celebrating 40 Years of Success With Record-Breaking Finals By Mike Sweeney, ACTRA Business Manager RENO, NEVADA – The 40th Annual ACTRA National Finals were held at the Reno Livestock Event Center October 15-22. The celebration started on Saturday the 15th, and over the next eight days, 38 National Champions would be crowned. There were 941 contestants who would make up the 4,897 teams. Of those contestants, 449 would pick up at least one check. The total cash payout was $572,515, with another $450,000 in awards, which included a specially designed contestant jacket from Professional’s Choice. The Wrangler Patriot Super 7 set some new records this year. The total payout to the champions was $61,000 in cash and awards. The championship trailers from Thuro Bilt were outstanding. Our sincere thank you to California Custom and Thuro-Bilt for their sponsorship. The winners of this roping were 13-year-old Kreece Powell from Idaho and 20-year-old Logan Anseth from Oregon. By the way, Kreece bought his first ACTRA card when he was six years old! Logan was 11 years old when he bought his first card. We sure start them young in ACTRA. The #4 Roping drew the most teams, 1,025. It was the wife and husband team of Kallie and Easton Faust who would claim the beautiful Scott Thomas trophy saddles and awesome trophy buckles from Skyline Silversmiths. The couple picked up a total of $22,400 in cash and awards. That should have made it a very happy trip home to Idaho. The #3 Roping had a total of 725 teams – yes, 725, and it would be the Southern California team of Ethan Strassburger, 13, and Hector Uribe who would take the victory lap. This team collected $18,000 in cash and awards. It seems that almost every roping has its own unique story line. It just goes to show that ACTRA is “Where Families Come to Rope, and Champions Are Made.” Be sure to check out all the winners in the result portion of this article. “Wow” is the only way to describe the reception at the Nugget Tuesday night. With complimentary drinks and great food, that is a recipe for fun every time. The Catastrophe Fund Auction was a huge success, thanks to auction and reception organizers Dode Dugger and Janet Allcott, over $17,000 was raised. A big tip of the Resistol to all the buyers who generously opened their wallets and checkbooks to make this happen. A big tip of the Texas Resistol to Rusty and Luanne Rice for making their way from Texas to be a part of the 40th celebration. Rusty brought an autographed picture of George Strait and himself taken at the filming of “Pure Country.” I would like to also recognize Rusty for Story, results and photos continue on page 12
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Upgraded packages including Laramies with HO Cummins engine, Aisin transmissions, power, tow packages, leather, running boards and more! Great options to lease or purchase. $1100 + tax Installed – applies to Ford, Chevy, GMC, Ram ROPERS SPORTS NEWS www.roperssportsnews.com Ropers Sports News (USPS 701920) is published monthly for $25 per year by Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Periodical postage paid at King City, CA 93930. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Advertising rates may be obtained by writing to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242, or by phoning (209) 333-2924. Fax (209) 368-9512. E-mail: email@example.com. Ads, News Copy and Photos must be received by the 10th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Owner/Publisher BOB FEIST • General Manager STEPHANIE REYNOLDS ANDERSON ROPERS SPORTS NEWS www.roperssportsnews.com Ropers Sports News (USPS 701920) is published monthly for $25 per year by Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Periodical postage paid at King City, CA 93930. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Advertising rates may be obtained by writing to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242, or by phoning (209) 333-2924. Fax (209) 368-9512. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ads, News Copy and Photos must be received by the 10th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Owner/Publisher BOB FEIST • General Manager STEPHANIE REYNOLDS ANDERSON three full rounds. Amateurs have a shot at round and overall champion Gist buckles. They each also receive a team photo and embroidered Wrangler jacket. The entry fee is $500 and slots fill quickly every year. Entries are taken online starting January 1st. Another big winner at the Cervi is Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which assists athletes injured in professional rodeo. Each year, the roping donates proceeds to the fund, with over a quarter million dollars raised to date. For more information or to enter the Pro Am online, visit arosroping.com. 2023 Cervi Ropings Slated For Casa Grande CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA – The Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial Pro Classic returns to Casa Grande February 21 & 22 with two days of roping events in the middle of Casa Grande Cowboy Days and O’Odham Tash. Tuesday gets things started with three ropings, each with a four steer average and 80% payback. There is a #13 and an Open at $200/man and a Super 15 for $300/man. Last year, the wildly popular Super 15 paid $12,600. The head l i ne r rop i ng takes place on Wednesday the 22nd. It features a four steer progressive with the top 20 teams moving on to the short go. There is a guaranteed minimum 90% payback offered this year, along with an impressive prize line. While the Cervi attracts elite pros from all over the country, there is also a $6,000 a man incentive for the highest placing #15 or under team. Books open for the Pro Classic at noon on Feb. 21. If you can’t make it in person, enjoy the thrilling action of the Cervi streaming live on Wrangler Network. Last year, 125,000 people viewed the roping on Wrangler. Always a crowd pleasing favorite, the 11th Annual Cervi Pro Am takes place Wednesday morning. There are 12 slots each for amateur headers and heelers who are partnered up that morning with a top Cervi Pro for 2022 Cervi Memorial Pro Classic winners Jeff Flenniken and Jaylen Eldridge rope their five steers in 34.03 seconds to win the roping and $29,154. – Andersen C Bar C Photography .r r rt . Ropers Sports News (USPS 701920) is published monthly for $25 per year by Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Periodical postage paid at King City, CA 93930. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Advertising rates may be obtained by writing to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242, or by phoning (209) 333-2924. Fax (209) 368-9512. E-mail: email@example.com. Ads, News Copy and Photos must be received by the 10th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Owner/Publisher BOB FEIST • General Manager STEPHANIE REYNOLDS ANDERSON N .r r rt . Ropers Sports News (USPS 701920) is published onthly for $25 per year by Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Periodical postage paid at King City, CA 93930. POST ASTER: Send address changes to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242. Advertising rates ay be obtained by writing to Ropers Sports News, 24060 N. Ray Road, Lodi, CA 95242, or by phoning (209) 333-2924. Fax (209) 368-9512. E- ail: info roperssportsnews.com. Ads, News Copy and Photos ust be received by the 10th of each onth to ake the next onth’s issue. Owner/Publisher BOB FEIST • General Manager STEPHANIE REYNOLDS ANDERSON
NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS PAGE 3
PAGE 4 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022 While in Las Vegas for the WNFR, World Series Of Team Roping Finale or Gift Shows (Dec. 1 - 11) be sure to stop by these fine vendors to shop and pick up a free copy of the December issue of Ropers Sports News! Booth #235 Stetson Country Christmas at the Rio Come check us out and we’ll save you some money! Featuring: Quality Roping Supplies & Western Tack, And Gifts For Everyone On Your List (760) 533-5596 www. ropesgalore.com Featuring: • Custom Moondawg Tack & Saddle Pouches • Complete Line Of Roping Supply Needs • Rafter T • Best Ever Pads • Professional’s Choice • American Darling Purses • Jewelry ★ NEW! Ladies Western Clothing & Accessories (775) 772-9333 www.steergear.net South Point Hotel & Casino Exhibit Hall, Aisle 1200 J. Tom Fisher Captures First Career Steer Roping Gold Buckle Courtesy ProRodeo.Com MULVANE , KANSAS – This is a moment J. Tom Fisher replayed in his head thousands of times – having a chance to be the PRCA Steer Roping World Champion in Round 10. Well, the stage wasn’t too big for the Andrews, Texas cowboy at the National Finals Steer Roping, Nov. 5 at the Kansas Star Arena. Fisher won Round 10 with an electric 9.5-second run, which set things in motion for him to win his first career gold buckle. Fisher earned $10,160 for the round victory and more importantly it allowed him to finish third in the average with a 111.2-second time on nine head and collect another $19,884. J. Tom finished atop the PRCA/RAM World Standings with $123,477. Reigning world champ Cole Patterson was second with $117,036. “This is a lifelong dream,” said Fisher, 37, fighting back tears. “This is the best day of my life. Vin (Fisher Jr., J. Tom’s brother) is an amateur mathematician and he had it figured that I needed to win like third in (Round 10) and Cole not place and I had to stay third in the average. I knew I had a great steer because Cash Myers tied him in 9.7 (in Round 5 Friday). I just wanted to be a little off the barrier and just blast him on the ground and that’s the way it worked out.”Patterson who went moments after J. Tom needed to finish third or better in Round 10 to claim his second world crown in a row. However, Patterson stopped the clock in 11.0 seconds, which tied for seventh in the round and out of the money. Patterson needed a third-place check or better in Round 10, since he was out of the average money. “Th i s i s j u s t i n c r e d - ible,” J. Tom said. “I worked at this every day the last 20 years and this something you dream about, having a chance to win the round to win the world. You think about something like that every day. I’m just very blessed that this all worked out.” The coveted gold buckle was a long time coming for the Fisher family. Father Dan, has 16 NFSR qualifications, Vin Jr. has 19 and J. Tom has 10. Finally in 2022, the family left with a gold buckle. Vin has been second in the steer roping world standings four times and Dan was second in 1996. “Getting this gold buckle after all those (NFSR) qualifications in my family is incredible,” J. Tom said. “In the 1990s, you started off the year trying to be reserve because Guy Allen was going to win it and there was nothing you could do about it. So, this never seemed like it could be a reality until seven or eight years ago.” J. Tom was riding Gump, 20, a horse Vin had ridden at the NFSR in the past, includJ. Tom Fisher won his first gold buckle in steer roping after a strong showing at the NSFR held in Mulvane, Kansas. – Photo by Rod Connor ing when he set the record for the fastest time in NFSR history with an 8.2-second run in 2020 at the Kansas Star. “I traded for (Gump) this September and I won the first two rodeos I was on him in Henryetta (Okla.) and Abilene (Texas),” J. Tom said. “He’s just the easiest horse I have ever ridden or done anything on. He is such an awesome horse, and I knew when I had that good steer (in Round 10) and if I did my deal I could tie him in 9 (seconds).” Scott Snedecor, who came Courtesy ProRodeo.Com COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – Success in the sport of rodeo doesn’t fall on just the cowboys and cowgirls. Their horses play just as big of factor when they step foot in the arena. The Nutrena Horse of the Year presented by AQHA awards provide recognition to ProRodeo’s top horses. The 2022 Nutrena Horse of the Year presented by AQHA awards were unveiled Oct. 10. The top three horses in each category are listed below. Team Roping Header: 1. JESS A MOOSE, “Grey,” ridden by Lightning Aguilera, owned by Jim Donnan. 2. COLE E MAN, “Biscuit,” ridden by Andrew Ward, owned by Andrew Ward. 3. RK TUFF TRINKET, “Bob,” ridden and owned by Riley Minor. Team Roping Heeler: 1. KADABRA KING, “Turbo,” ridden by Patrick Smith, owned by Patrick and Christi Smith. 2. NITA WIN PLAYBOY, “Drago,” ridden and owned by Logan Medlin. 3. THE STAR PEPTO, “CJ,” ridden by Jake Long, owned by Jake and Tasha Long. Steer Roping: 1. JS FROSTYS BADGER, “Goose,” ridden by Scott Snedecor, owned by Scott and Kelli Snedecor. 2. PC THIS DUDES GOT A GUN, “Shooter,” ridden and owned by Mike Chase. 3. KR O G S HI C K O RY, “Pete,” ridden and owned by Bryce Davis. Steer Wrestling: 1. DASHIN HAZE, “Tyson,” ridden by JD Struxness, J. Brown, C. Cassidy, S. Culling, K. Irwin, R. Parrott, W. Lummus, owned by Curtis Cassidy. 2. BE DUN BY THREE, “Benz,” ridden by T. Erickson, D. Eldridge, W. Lummus, C. Hass, owned by Clayton Hass. 3. PATRIONIC DASH, “Mable,” ridden by Stetson Jorgenson, Garrett Henry. Tie-Down Roping: 1. POCKETFUL OF LIGHT, “Pockets,” ridden by Caleb Smidt, Marty Yates, owned by Caleb Smidt. 2. MARKET UP CAT, “Rudy,” ridden by Lane Livingston, owned by Lane Livingston. 3. BIG CATS MOKEY, “Rampage,” ridden and owned by Shad Mayfield. Nutrena Horse Of The Year Presented By AQHAAnnounced See NFSR On Page 5
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It’s like hitting a three-pointer to win the NBA championship,” he said. “This is so incredible.” Clay Long, who finished sixth in the world standings with $96,560 won the Dixon McGowan Award, given to the highest-ranked first-time qualifier to the NFSR. The award memorializes McGowan, who died at age 23 in an automobile accident on May 10, 1997. Martin Poindexter won the Legacy Steer Roping championship with $10,149. The event concluded before Round 10 of the NFSR at the Kansas Star. Poindexter edged Corey Ross , who came in wi th $9,392. National Finals Steer Roping Mulvane, Kan., Nov. 4-5 First round: 1. Garrett Hale, 10.3 seconds, $10,160; 2. Cody Lee, 11.5, $8,408; 3. Landon McClaugherty, 11.6, $6,657; 4. Clay Long, 11.7, $4,905; 5. J. Tom Fisher, 11.8, $3,153; 6. Cash Myers, 12.8, $1,752. Second round: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 9.8 seconds, $10,160; 2. Bryce Davis, 9.9, $8,408; 3. Scott Snedecor, 10.3, $6,657; 4. Cole Patterson, 10.5, $4,905; 5. (tie) Mike Chase and Jess Tierney, 11.3, $2,452 each. Third round: 1. Scott Snedecor, 9.4 seconds, $10,160; 2. (tie) Jess Tierney and Clay Long, 10.1, $7,533 each; 4. Chet Herren, 10.3, $4,905; 5. Landon McClaugherty, 11.3, $3,153; 6. Bryce Davis, 12.2, $1,752. Fourth round: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 9.4 seconds, $10,160; 2. Cole Patterson, 10.0, $8,408; 3. J. Tom Fisher, 10.5, $6,657; 4. Mike Chase, 10.9, $4,905; 5. Ora Taton, 11.0, $3,153; 6. Clay Long, 11.5, $1,752. Fifth round: 1. J. Tom Fisher, 9.6 seconds, $10,160; 2. (tie) Cash Myers and Ora Taton, 9.7, $7,533 each; 4. Bryce Davis, 9.8, $4,905; 5. Chet Herren, 10.3, $3,153; 6. Clay Long, 10.5, $1,752. Sixth round: 1. Cole Patterson, 9.3 seconds, $10,160; 2. Jess Tierney, 9.4, $8,408; 3. Taylor Santos, 10.5, $6,657; 4. J. Tom Fisher, 10.9, $4,905; 5. (tie) Cody Lee and Chet Herren, 11.3, $2,452 each. Seventh round: 1. Landon McClaugherty, 9.5 seconds, $10,160; 2. Mike Chase, 10.4, $8,408; 3. J. Tom Fisher, 11.1, $6,657; 4. Scott Snedecor, 11.3, $4,905; 5. (tie) Cole Patterson and Jess Tierney, 11.4, $2,452 National Finals Steer Roping... From Page 4 Winners of Dusty Watkins’ Team Roping School held August 20-21 at the Bonfantini Arena in Salinas, California, were Bruce Clausen (right), heading, and Toni Bonfantini (left), heeling. Hats off to Dusty’s sponsors: Weaver Leather, Cactus Ropes, Cactus Saddlery, Heel-OMatic, Resistol and Rosedale Automotive. Dusty Watkins School each. Eighth round: 1. Vin Fisher Jr., 9.2 seconds, $10,160; 2. Taylor Santos, 9.3, $8,408; 3. Chet Herren, 10.2, $6,657; 4. Cole Patterson, 10.6, $4,905; 5. Cody Lee, 11.8, $3,153; 6. Clay Long, 13.0, $1,752. Ninth round: 1. Cash Myers, 9.6 seconds, $10,160; 2. Taylor Santos, 9.8, $8,408; 3. Cole Patterson, 10.9, $6,657; 4. Jess Tierney, 11.5, $4,905; 5. Chet Herren, 12.6, $3,153; 6. Landon McClaugherty, 12.9, $1,752. Tenth round: 1. J. Tom Fisher, 9.5 seconds, $10,160; 2. Ora Taton, 10.1, $8,408; 3. Garrett Hale, 10.2, $6,657; 4. Scott Snedecor, 10.3, $4,905; 5. (tie) Vin Fisher Jr. and Landon McClaugherty, 10.4, $2,452 each. Average : 1. Cody Lee , 123.3 seconds on ten head, $30,349; 2. Clay Long, 107.8 on nine head, $25,116; 3. J. Tom Fisher, 111.2, $19,884; 4. Taylor Santos, 128.9, $14,651; 5. Ora Taton, 96.3 on eight head, $9,419; 6. Mike Chase, 101.1, $5,233. 7. Jesse Tierney, 103.8; 8. Landon McClaugherty, 109.3; 9. Cole Patterson, 73.7 seconds on seven head; 10. Scott Snedecor, 77.6; 11. Chet Herren, 87.7; 12. Bryce Davis, 73.7 seconds on six head; 13. Garrett Hale, 75.3; 14. Vin Fisher Jr., 49.9 seconds on five head; 15. Cash Myers, 63.2. World Standings 1. J. Tom Fisher, $123,477; 2. Cole Patterson, $117,036; 3. Cody Lee, $113,096; 4. Scott Snedecor, $109,286; 5. Jesse Tierney, $96,560; 6. Clay Long, $69,560; 7. Taylor Santos, $85,694; 8. Vin Fisher Jr., $84,297; 9. Ora Taton, $76,624; 10. Cash Myers, $68,684; 11. Chet Herren, $67,736; 12. Landon McClaugherty, $66,130; 13. Mike Chase, $68,155; 14. Garrett Hale, $61,707; 15. Bryce Davis. $59,667.
PAGE 6 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022 Team Roping Elite Set to Rope at Record $14 Million 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo By Lane Karney Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira left Las Vegas a year ago as the 2021 world champion team ropers, and will return to the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge as the leaders of the pack. While the Top 15 teams will compete December 1-10 for their share of the record $14 million payoff at Rodeo’s Super Bowl—which is up from $13.3 million in 2021— the NFR payoff isn’t the only money record making headlines. Driggers and Nogueira didn’t just win the regular season—they dominated, shattering the previous regular-season team roping earnings records. Of course, an up-tick in money won by contestants coming into the NFR is always a good thing, and usually means increased payoffs throughout the season. But this was a jaw-dropping, recordshattering display of team roping. Driggers and Nogueira’s regular-season earnings of $227,878 a man bested the previous records of $150,512 (set by header Clay Smith in 2019), and Travis Graves’ 2010 heeling record of $147,653. Driggers will ride into the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas campus with an $83,214 lead over the #2 header, Clay Tryan, while Nogueira has won nearly $100 grand ($97,546) more than Jake Long, who comes in second among heelers. For the sake of perspective, Driggers and Nogueira won the 2021 world championships with $263,226 and $277,611 in the final world standings, respectively. Th o u g h t h e s t o r y l i n e throughout 2022 has been primarily Kaleb and Junior, this year ’s Finals field guarantees that we’re all in for great watching during the NFR’s 10day run. Not only was I able to catch up with Driggers and Nogueira about their dream season to get their thoughts going into the NFR, but also last year’s record-setting NFR average champs, Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins. Another team that jumps off the page is two-time World Champion Hee l er Pa t r i ck Smith, who will heel at his first Finals since 2015. He’ll rope with NFR-rookie Tanner Tomlinson. Other NFR-rookie headers include Lightning Aguilera and Jake Orman. On the heeling side of things, Brye Crites and Jonathan Torres will make their debuts at this year’s Super Bowl of Rodeo. Here are highlights from conversations with some of the top team ropers in the world, as they get ready to ride into the 2022 National Finals Rodeo. Kaleb Driggers NFRs: 10 (2011-14, 2016-19, 2021-22) Hometown: Hoboken, Georgia Partner: Junior Nogueira Lane Karney: You won the world last year, and obviously set out to do it again. But tell me about this record regular season. Kaleb Driggers: Winning the regular season has always been important to me, because it’s the guys that do the best that year in every situation. Long scores, short scores, coming from the right side (like Oakdale, California and Prescott, Arizona), and coming from the left side (like Salinas, California). I have won the regular season before and not won the world, because we get to rope for so much money in Vegas. That’s great for us, but being the guys that do the best all year is important to me. This year, we had a really good winter, which we’ve never real ly had. We had maybe $80,000 going into Reno. I’ve never had more than like $30,000 going there before. We normally have really good summers. In 2016, Junior and I won $125,000 in three months. We had an even better summer than usual this year, but the biggest difference was our winter. LK: Ideally, earnings records are routinely broken, which would mean the money is getting better for you guys everywhere. But you and Junior’s win percentage amazed me more than the money. I have heard you guys won money at over 70% of the rodeos you entered. What all contributed to that rate of success? KD: We have a really good set of horses on both sides of our team. That gives us a lot of confidence when we can play them for their strengths in different situations. It is super special to us, but records are made to be broken and hopefully ours will be, too. LK: Does this kind of lead do anything for your mindset going into the Finals? You looked so in control at last year’s NFR. How similar is your approach to last year, when you came in just behind the leaders? KD: I’m going to try to keep the same mindset as last year. It’s easy to get down there and want to blast when they’re going 3 (seconds) in the rounds. But I want to rope every steer for what he is, and not get caught up in what’s going on around me. We have a pretty good lead, but that can go away in about three go-rounds. We’re just going to do our jobs, and win as much as we can. LK: What are you planning to ride at the NFR? KD: My plans are to ride the bay, Cuervo (who’s 15), that I rode last year. After Salt Lake at the end of July, I brought him home and he stays with Danita Walker in Lipan. She keeps him on the hot walker and her machines year-round when I’m not using him. He doesn’t need tuning up, and Danita will go to Vegas with us, so hopefully we can keep him sound and ride him for 10 rounds. She’s gone out there with me and taken care of my horses since about 2013, and has been a lifesaver to me. She gives me that peace of mind you get when you’re doing the best you can by your horses. I’ll also take my sorrel, Oliver (7), that I jackpotted on and rode at all the long scores this year. I did good on him at Northside the other day at Charly Crawford’s roping, so that’s my back-up plan. Junior Nogueira NFRs: 9 (2014-2022) Hometown: Presidente Prudente, Sao Paulo, Brazil Partner: Kaleb Driggers LK: You’ve won two world titles—the 2016 world allaround championship and last year’s heeling gold buckle. But I know how much it means to you to win the regular season. This is your sixth time to do that, and you and Kaleb shattered the regular-season earnings record. Describe your season. Junior Nogueira: We had a really good winter, which helped a lot. We never had a great winter in the past, but have done really well in the summer. This year, we won Fort Worth in the winter, which was a blessing, and caught a lot of steers. We were more consistent this year. Kaleb roped great and turned a lot of steers, and our horses were great. It wasn’t perfect, but it was amazing. We are blessed to do what we love, see this beautiful country and make friends for the rest of our lives, plus make a living. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s a great life. I want to thank God, my family, my sponsors and my whole team for another great year. LK: You’ll show up in Las Vegas as the reigning world champion heeler. What’s your mindset going in? JN: I’m not going to change the game plan. I’ll prepare and try to do my best every single time. I know my partner is trying 100% and is going to do his job, so I’m going to ride in focused on my job. Nothing has changed. We had a great season, and we feel the same as going in last year. I’m looking forward to doing the best I can, and seeing what God has prepared for us. LK: What are you going to ride at the Finals? JN: I’m planning to ride my buckskin, Timon (who’s 12). He’s super comfortable in that set-up, and has done good for me there before. It’s hard to find the perfect horse out there. You see guys who make the NFR and switch horses just for there. During the year, the shapes of the arenas change, the scores change, and I can ride him everywhere. But Timon’s done really good in the short Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira shattered the regular season earnings record in 2022, and are looking to add second consecutive gold buckles to their belts. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Rod Connor See WNFR TEAM ROPERS On Page 8 TEAM ROPING (Payoffs Are Per Roper) 10 Go-Rounds 1st. . . . . . . $28,914 2nd. . . . . . . $22,851 3rd. . . . . . . $17,255 4th.. . . . . . . $12,125 5th. . . . . . . . $7,462 6th.. . . . . . . . $4,664 Each Go-Round: $93,270 Average 1st. . . . . . . . $74,150 2nd. . . . . . . . $60,159 3rd. . . . . . . . $47,568 4th.. . . . . . . . $34,976 5th. . . . . . . . $25,183 6th.. . . . . . . . $18,188 7th. . . . . . . . $12,591 8th.. . . . . . . . . $6,995 Average: $279,811 2022 WRANGLER NATIONAL FINALS RODEO TEAM ROPING PAIRINGS Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin Tanner Tomlinson/Patrick Smith Dustin Egusquiza/Travis Graves Rhen Richard/Jeremy Buhler Tyler Wade/Trey Yates Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp Jr. Dees/Levi Lord Lightning Aguilera/Jonathan Torres Riley Minor/Brady Minor Clay Smith/Jake Long Chad Masters/Joseph Harrison Jake Orman/Brye Crites
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PAGE 8 ROPERS SPORTS NEWS NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2022 Tanner Tomlinson is set to make his NFR debut, heading for Patrick Smith, the two-time team roping world champion heeler and 13-time NFR qualifier. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Roseanna Sales Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins set a new NFR average record last year, and are game planning to consistently go a little faster in 2022. – PRCA ProRodeo Photo by Rod Connor Team Roping Elite Set To Rope At NFR... From Page 6 set-ups. I’ll take Hali (his gray mare) as a backup. Andrew Ward NFRs: 3 (2020-22) Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma Partner: Buddy Hawkins LK: You and Buddy had a great season, both rodeoing and jackpotting. Break down your year for me. Andrew Ward: It seemed like an incredible year. We won a lot of stuff you dream about winning. We started it all off really with winning the NFR average last year, and setting the record on 10 (Andrew and Buddy’s new NFR average record of 54.7 seconds eclipsed Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper’s mark of 59.1 on 10 steers set way back in 1994), then we won the Lone Star Shootout, The American, and won the BFI (Resistol Reno Open) in Reno. It was cool to check off a lot of big wins. At the rodeos , we won money a t mos t o f t hem throughout the season. Together as a team, we caught a ton of cows. We had a really effective year, so we’ll try to build on it. We do go to some smaller rodeos than other guys, and do it a little different with a big focus on our (Prairie) Circuit Finals—sort of like rodeoing like professional weekend warriors starting on Thursday and finishing on Sunday. We didn’t have to drive very much this year, and had days to rest. We didn’t have but maybe one or two all-nighters, and were able to catch over and over. I know there’s room for improvement to execute at the bigger rodeos, but we caught a lot of cows and won a lot of checks. LK: You guys obviously had a great year, and it seems like you won just about everywhere you went. Can you put Kaleb and Junior’s incredible year into perspective from your front-row seat to the earnings record? AW: That was incredible to watch. Everywhere we were up the same, it seemed like they were winning on runners, on lopers—it didn’t matter. I was so impressed watching them. They’ve both got a list of horses that any one of them could be another guy’s best one. Driggers probably rode five different head horses at the rodeos this year, and you can’t hardly tell when he switches. At this level, Kaleb and Junior can catch with anybody. They can go as fast as anybody. They caught a lot of steers going really fast. Because they’ve got so many great horses, they didn’t skip anywhere, and they had great horses everywhere. I don’t know what Speed and Rich or Jake and Clay looked like when they were dominating, but I’ve never seen a team as elite as Kaleb and Junior this year, no matter the set-up. Clay (Tryan) beat us in the regular-season, too. They’ve got good horses, and I think him and Jade (Corkill) rodeoed similar to us, not flying as much and going to what made sense. They’re dominant, too. If I could duplicate our year, I’d do it every year. So hats off to those guys for the year they had, and the lead they racked up. LK: After setting the new NFR average record last year, you said there were a few things you were focused on for next time. What are those, and what’s your NFR game plan this year? AW: There aren’t big changes coming. I want to catch, because that’s my identity. There were two little things that I did kind of wrong. I thought I was swinging too hard and tight, trying to catch up to the cows. The cows were running so hard, and because I was tight, I’d have to ride through where I could have been throwing last year. That made us a little longer on some runs. If I can come up with a smoother, slower first swing, then a little more aggressive second swing and a good, open third one with my horse on good lines, I think that’ll help. The other thing is I’d never experienced the speed of the steers out there in that set-up before. In the steer break-in, I thought the steers were better, and I anticipated with the barrier at 4’ under that I would overcome the cows on Biscuit. The first night, I tried to see something and felt like by the time I got going, I saw shoulder or first rib out the end of the gate, because he left so sharp. I was just hoping to catch up by the end of the arena. The second night, I came behind him, but he was sharp and I felt late again. Later in the week, I felt like I got better starts. But I don’t want to be scared of a 10-second barrier out there this time. Last year, I was stressed about beating the (average) record, and I think that backed me off. It’s like we were in a contest with Jake and Clay’s record, and couldn’t afford a barrier at the end. Even though breaking the record didn’t add money to our pockets, those are our heroes. Hopefully, I can block out the noise a little better this year. My plan is to get going at the start, read the cow through the box, react with my left hand, relax my swing and send it when I believe I can catch. If I can get great starts, I think we can be a little faster without taking riskier throws. LK: Your great brown horse, Biscuit (11), was voted this year’s reserve Nutrena Head Horse of the Year presented by AQHA. You’ve ridden him at the last two NFRs. Will you ride him again in Vegas, and how much did it mean to you for him to be recognized by your peers this year? AW: Yes, I feel like you get chemistry the more you rope on a horse in there. I know what Biscuit is going to feel like. The building is small, but the barrier is so short and the cows run so hard. He’s my best horse in that arena with that set-up, but I’ve got a gray I call Henry (who’s also 11) who I’ll have out there, too. I was kind of nervous to miss the deadline to nominate Biscuit for that award for his sake, because he went from little indoors to big outdoors to the BFI. He’s done it the last four or five years now, and just keeps getting better, because I’m riding him better. Horses like Biscuit are life-changing for guys like me. I wouldn’t put my horse’s name down for that award unless I thought he was a special horse. I was thrilled other people thought that about him, too. Buddy Hawkins NFRs: 5 (2013, 2018, 2020-22) Hometown: Stephenvi l le, Texas Partner: Andrew Ward LK: Describe your season and some of the highlights along the way. Buddy Hawkins: This sport is a lot like every other thing in life I’ve experienced. Your distance between sowing, reaping and the productivity of your crop, if you will, is unique. You can plant the exact same amount of corn, get the same exact amount of moisture and get a slightly different yield. There are a lot of factors in there. There’s the bamboo analogy, that everybody is probably bored with, but it goes like this: When you plant a bamboo tree, nothing noticeable happens for five years. The improvement process is often discouraging, but it’s growing underground and creates a base or foundation for later growth. In the fifth year, the bamboo tree grows up to 90 feet in six weeks. So, I can’t talk about my season without bringing it back to my faith. I finished 16th (in the world standings) in 2017. In 2018, I divorced from my best friend, then completely reset and quit rodeoing for part of 2019. Since I started roping in 2000, I’ve worked for this. I don’t deserve it more than the next guy, and not everyone gets what they deserve out of this sport. But that makes this sport beautiful, because people do it for the love of it. To look at what made this fairytale possible, where every big check they gave away in a four-month period they gave to us (last year’s NFR average through The American in March), you can’t summarize that appropriately. It takes a whole lot of little things—my whole family, my sponsors, my partner, his family, people throughout this industry—to have big wins. LK: You and Andrew set the NFR record last year on 10 steers. How are you using that experience going into this year? BH: For me, a lot of my perspective is the same as it has been at every NFR. Perspective always acquires previous experience, so you can’t have the exact same perspective after you’ve had an experience. More recently, I try to be the best follower I can be to my partner and his horse. On paper, I’m the team leader in terms of strategy and navigating that. But when it comes to the actual event, I’m playing on the team. I very much try to follow my partner’s start, and his pursuit of the cow. This is my first repeat NFR in this building with See WNFR TEAM ROPERS On Page 10
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LK: What are you planning to ride at the Finals? BH: I plan on riding X (15), which is the horse I rode last year. He’s the best horse in the box that I’ve ever had. He scores really well also. Now that we have futurities, that means more to more people. He’ll stand in there motionless on a tight bridle for as long as I want, then explode off the bridle reins when I drop. I was watching an old video from the NFR in Arlington (in 2020), when Andrew had to reset a couple times. We stood motionless for, like, 47 seconds, then got our start. I think that’s the #1 thing that makes X special there. He follows the steer really well, and if we are in a really good spot, there’s really not much I have to do. I can tell him how I want to leave the box, and when. Some of my horses maybe score better, but leave 10 different ways. This horse will leave one of three ways that I dictate. If anything, he’s going to leave harder than I want, which is a good thing there. In my experience, I’ve ran 30 steers there, 20 on X. And 20 in a row, I left and never had to touch the reins again. I may have because of a bad habit, but I never had to. Tanner Tomlinson NFRs: 1 (2022) Hometown: Angleton, Texas Partner: Patrick Smith LK: You were the 2020 Resistol Heading Rookie of the Year, and turned 22 this year. Has making your first Finals sunk in yet? Tanner Tomlinson: I tell you what, it hadn’t hit me since being home until early November. I’ve dreamed about this my whole life, and it’s a dream come true. With it almost here, practicing and watching all the NFR reruns, it’s finally just hit me here lately. LK: How are you preparing for your NFR debut? TT: Patrick has the NFR arena built into his arena, so it’s the same measurements and dimensions. I’ve been running about 60-70 steers in there every day. Patrick tweaked his back, so he’s been running about 15 and I’ve had other guys coming to heel. But we’re about to get after it pretty hard. We are trying to get a run lined out, and are working on not having too much rope out if I reach. We are working on a run together that’s not too kamikaze, because I’ve always tried to go so fast. Some people have told me you don’t want to go so fast there that it makes it hard to get a run going all week. So we are finding that happy medium. Trevor (Brazile) has come over to help me a little bit, and get a run down. LK: Trevor and Patrick had some years at the NFR where they had arguably one of the best runs ever inside that building night after night. What’s it mean to be in this position with Patrick? TT: Being around Patrick has taken my heading to another level. He’s helped me with my horsemanship and how to keep a horse under me all year. We’ve really worked at getting a run together, and to build consistency together. Andrew and Buddy have a run together better than anybody, and they’re so consistent. Same with Kaleb and Junior. We got a run down mid-season that let us get on a roll and make the Finals. Patrick has been a blessing to me as a mentor the last two years. LK: What are you planning on riding at the NFR? TT: I don’t know for sure what I’m going to start on, but I do know I’m taking Coy’s (Rahlmann) horse Blue, that he rode out there last year. I’m also taking Wishbone, which is a horse Trevor rode out there last time he was there. Trevor just got him back, and I’m going to take him. My gray I rode all year doesn’t come up the wall very good in little arenas, and is a little more elevated leaving the box than them. Coy’s horse leaves super flat, and stays in the bridle leaving the box across the line. Everyone feels like the head horse being flat and easy is the main key there, so you can have a good first swing. The go is so important, so that’s why I’m taking those two horses. Patrick Smith NFRs: 13 (2003, 2005-2015, 2022) Hometown: Lipan, Texas Partner: Tanner Tomlinson LK: This is your first NFR qualification since 2015. Was this a resurgence? Patrick Smith: In 2016, I didn’t rodeo when we did the ERA (Elite Rodeo Association). I’d like to say I didn’t rodeo those other years since then, but I just didn’t get off to great starts, and came home early. As much as anything, I’ve got really good heel horses and a good partner now. All of that creates a resurgence. A good partner, good head horse and good heel horse are the three things that set you up for success. Winning is a motivator, and makes you hungry to get back in the circle. LK: You heeled at your first Finals in 2003 for Matt Tyler, who was at his 18th NFR that year (Matt and Patrick won the average, with 62.3 seconds on 10 head). What’s it feel like to be on the other end of that, and to be taking Tanner to his first NFR? PS: It’s almost a mirror image. My first year I roped with a guy who had been there so many times, and I was the first-timer. I’ve been telling Tanner about those feelings I felt, that I’m sure he’ll feel, too. I was so nervous that year, but then you ride in the box and see the chute with a steer in it, and it’s the same thing we do all year. There’s so much pressure out there, but it’s horns and feet, and making your run. I’m excited to have the knowledge I do have, and hopefully it’s an advantage to be able to share that with him. LK: You’ve got the 2022 Nutrena Heel Horse of the Year presented by AQHA, Turbo (12). How much are you looking forward to riding him at the Finals? PS: I’m really excited. Turbo’s so fast and has such an amazing finish, so that set-up fits him really well. He’s so good everywhere, but he has all the things you look for in a horse for that building, especially roping with someone like Tanner, who is so fast. Hopefully, I can show everybody what Turbo’s all about. We haven’t gotten to compete in there (the Thomas & Mack Center) together yet, so I’m very excited. Patrick Smith GUTHR I E , OKLA . – WCRA (Wor ld Champions Rodeo Alliance) and the Lazy E Arena have announced payout and cash bonus details for the 2023 Cinch World Championship Junior Rodeo (WCJR) presented by Montana Silversmiths. The World ChampionWCRA & Lazy E Format Updates For 2023 Cinch Junior Rodeo ship event is set to take place July 25-29, 2023, at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. In late July, the Lazy E Arena and the WCRA Division Youth (DY) announced they were going to join forces on the 2023 World Championship Junior Rodeo. The 2023 event will have over $200,000 in guaranteed prize money and is open to any youth athlete ages 19 and under (as of the first day of competition) in the world competing in 11 disciplines which include – Bareback Riding, Ladies Breakaway Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping Heading, Team Roping Heel ing, Tie-Down Roping, Ladies Barrel Racing, Ladies Pole Bending, Ladies Goat Tying, and Bull Riding. World Champions will be crowned in all disciplines from both the Junior Leaderboard (ages 19 and under) and the Youth Leaderboard (age 13-15) with $10,000 being paid out per discipline in the Junior Division ($110,000 total) while the Youth Division will award $5,000 per discipline ($35,000 total). The organizations also recently announced the World Champions will be crowned in all disciplines along with AllAround World Champions from both the 19 and under (19U) Junior Leaderboard and the 13-15 Youth Leaderboard. Each World Champion will be awarded a piece of the $56,000 in cash bonuses. The WCJR will also serve as a Jr. Ironman qualifier with the top five advancing to Jr. Ironman Championship held during the Cinch Timed Event Championship in March 2024. The Jr. Ironman Side Pot will have $5,000 added money with the mandatory disciplines (must enter and participate in all four disciplines). DY Athletes will have two opportunities to earn a position to the 2023 WCJR with no entry fees: the top 16 on the DY23 Leaderboard (by age classification, by discipline); generic qualification from a DY Qualifier Series event. DY Qualifier Series (DYQS) are a group of events held prior to the 2023 WCJR where athletes who nominate and place in the top spot in their respected discipline at the DY Qualifier Series event will earn a generic qualification with no entry fees to the 2023 Championship. Athletes can qualify for the WCJR by nominating their rodeo efforts and earning points for the WCRA DY23 leaderboard positions using the VRQ (Virtual Rodeo Qualifier). Athletes have until June 25, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. to nominate and earn points. The top 16 on the leaderboard in each discipline will qualify for the event with no entry fees. Lastly, athletes will also be able to enter the event through open entry and take their shot by competing through the qualifying rounds. All rodeo athletes interested in learning more about the WCRA DY, the VRQ, or event format and payout details should visit dy.rodeo or download the WCRA DY app.www.roperssportsnews.com