Here it is another year gone by and the January issue of Ropers Sports News is again going to press as we start our 48th year in reporting the happenings in the roping, barrel racing and rodeo world. It has been fun and with the great staff continues to be fun. We look forward to keeping you informed again this year and to get the word out by advertising your events and products. Thanks to all who have been loyal subscribers and advertisers over the many years. 

I was overwhelmed with the team roping at this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. It was by far the best team roping I had ever seen at the Thomas and Mack Arena. The increase in the payoff this year had a lot to do with each man’s strategy as well as good cattle and superior roping skills by all those entered. 

The team roping was just great watching every night as the leaders in the world title seemed to change each night with the scenarios that one could figure out with all of the “what ifs.” It came down to the 10th go-round and then things really changed when a couple of teams had trouble. It was great to see the talents of the ropers, young and seasoned,  throughout the week. 

One of the fan favorites was JoJo LeMond, who was called at the last minute to replace veteran Jake Barnes. JoJo was teamed with the South American heeler, Junior Nogueira. JoJo and Junior had the week going their way til the 10th go round when JoJo lost his rope on the final steer, costing them the world title, average title and record on 10 steers with a two foot catch. It was a sad moment and I think JoJo wanted to win the world for Jake and Junior as much as he did for himself. Junior showed a lot of class when he waited at the out gate and gestured to JoJo that it was alright. Very moving for those who caught the scene. The team ended up third in the average. 

The other big favorite was Derrick Begay and Clay O’Brien Cooper as they had a great Finals and it looked like the veteran Clay was on his way to winning another Gold Buckle and Derrick his first, but not to be.

The headers seemed rope smarter this year than in the past and were giving the heelers the best handles they could in that small arena. The first two jumps are the most important before that wall comes into play and the handle slips away for the heelers. All in all I thought it was a great team roping this year and hope all of the years to come will be as good. The increase in the money has helped and I hope that the payoff formula stays the same. There was some talk that some of the contestants wanted to put more if not all of the money in the rounds next year. I feel this would be a huge mistake and would affect the quality of the performance by the ropers. This rodeo should show the consistency of the best ropers in the world and let them display their talents on 10 head and get paid for it.

Something new this year was that each contestant at the WNFR received $10,000 upon arriving in Las Vegas and it was added to their year-end standings. So with what each contestant won at the WNFR, $10,000 was added for year end. The least any team roper got out of the finals with was $21,000 at the end of the 10th performance. 

Be sure to read the in-depth article on this year’s team roping champs, written by Lane Santos Karney, that starts on the front page. Great insights at the behind the scene drama heading to and at the WNFR.

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Once again a tip of the Resistol to Denny and Connie Gentry and all of the great staff behind the production of the WSTR Finale X also held in Vegas. With record payout exceeding $10M and first place per person in the #10 paying a record $175,000, it was an exceptionally run and exciting event. Can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!

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 Our thoughts and prayers to the Bray family, Classic Equine and the Equibrand employees on the loss of their manufacturing facility on November 30. They are currently rebuilding with the vision to be bigger and stronger of which we have no doubt. See story on page 16 of this issue. 

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 Congrats to all of the new champions and may everyone have a GREAT NEW YEAR. 

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