The Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping concluded today at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City, in solid fashion, offering $3.67 million in prize money and $625,000 in prizes to 7,032 teams.
Produced by the United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC), the world's leading team roping organization based in Stephenville, Texas, the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping exceeded all expectations.
From 15-year-old Wesley Thorp of Throckmorton, Texas, who won more than $65,000, to the Connecticut team of Tyler and Cody Christensen of Guilford, who had the roping of their life to win the reserve in the #10 and split $49,000, the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping was filled with stories of euphoric success and bitter disappointment as the competition rolled through nine sun-filled days.
"I think most people in the competition segment of the horse industry would agree that the economy is still wreaking havoc, but this Finals proved that team ropers are a community of people very engaged and passionate about their sport," said USTRC President Kirk Bray. "For 21 years, this event has served the industry as a true National Finals where ropers from all across the United States and abroad come to compete for the sports richest purse and most coveted prizes."
The Championship event awarded a total of 10 United States Championship titles and 9 National Finals titles which not only came with the cash prize, but custom Martin Trophy championship saddles, Gist Silversmiths Gold buckles, full-quill ostrich Tony Lama boots and Western Horseman commemorative prints.
Furthermore, two Dodge RAM Cummins Diesel 4 X 4 trucks were awarded to the high money-earning Gold Plus member champions in two divisions, along with two Case IH tractors being awarded to the reserve high money-earning Gold Plus champions in those divisions.
The event launched Saturday, October 23, with a real crowd pleaser, the U.S. Open Championships preliminary rounds.
"The opening weekend of the Finals is akin to watching the Masters in golf," said Bray. "The top ropers in the industry compete on a level that is truly the pinnacle and it's a great chance to see the best in action. The only real difference is that the PGA likely wouldn't have lots of kids playing alongside the green," alluding to the number of families who attend the event.
Taking the U.S. Open Championship, which offered $202,600, was former PRCA World Champion Chad Masters of Clarksville, Tenn., and partner Jade Corkill of Lipan, Texas. The team roped five head in a time of 44.52 seconds to win $71,600.
Corkill was also the U.S. Open Tour heeling champion, while Gable Hildebrand of Bartlett, Kan., was the Tour heading champion. Both were awarded $10,000 bonus checks for their year-end achievements.
The largest purse of the event was found in the #9 Shoot Out, offering a total of $405,900, to 443 teams. One of the few high callback teams to keep it together in the short round, the team of Joe D. Jones of Macon, Miss., and partner 17-year-old Coledon Harmon of Stephenville, Texas, roping together for the first time, roped four in a time of 35.81 to win $100,700.
Taking the #15 Shoot-Out was the team of Drew Horner of Plano, Texas, and 13-year-old Brady Norman of Springer, Okla. The team earned $71,000 of the $279,800 purse, roping five head in a time of 37.73 seconds.
Bringing home earnings of $81,000 of the $322,400 purse to Louisiana was Natie C. Johnson of Choudrant and another 13-year-old, Cody Hogan of Pelican. That duo roped five head in a time of 38.24 seconds for the win in the #13 Shoot-Out.
In the #12 Shoot-Out Peggy Bach of Millsap, Texas shared the winning prize of $76,900 with the partner she met the day of the event, B.J. Thompson of Pitkin, La. That duo roped in a time of 30.32 seconds on four head to take their share of the $298,500 purse.
It was a moving moment in the #12 Gold Plus Shoot Out, offering a purse of $220,500, when father and son team Terry and Ryan Leatherwood, of Grady, New Mex., and Sterling, Kan., respectively, came from the 16th callback position and roped in a time of 32.63 seconds on four head to win $45,500, with Ryan winning the RAM truck and Terry taking home the Case tractor in a rope-off.
Stephenville, Texas, realtor Jamie Mader-Hayden and her partner, high school freshman Wesley Thorp of Throckmorton, Texas brought home $93,500 of the $374,900 purse in the #11 Shoot-Out. The team roped in a time of 32.78 seconds on four head for the win.
Mader-Hayden also won the Cruel Girl All Girl Championships with partner Jimmi Jo Montera of Greeley, Colo., roping four steers in a time of 31.81 seconds to win $15,500 of the $57,800 purse.
With a nod to the veterans of the sport, the Century Championships, for ropers whose ages total 100 or more, went to Arkansans Ronnie Carter of Berryville and Eddie Cole of Branch, roping in a time of 30.76 seconds on four to earn $16,600 of the $75,400 purse.
The #10 Gold Plus Shoot-Out brought out 1975 NFR calf roping qualifier Don Smith of Hodgen, Okla., and partner Anthony Echelle, a civil engineer from Glencoe, Okla., to run for the $202,800 purse, along with the RAM truck and Case tractor. Roping four steers in a time of 34.52 seconds, the team scored earnings of $42,900, with Smith capturing the truck and Echelle the tractor in the rope-off.
Newlywed Andrew Lux of Ozark, Ark., shared the spoils of the #10 Shoot-Out win with partner Jordan Johnson, who farms with his dad in Summers, Ark. Lux, who works in fiber optics and computers, and Johnson earned $89,400 of the $350,200 purse roping in a time of 32.54 seconds on four.
The event ended on a high note with more than $203,400 offered to 289 teams in the #8. Frankfort, Kan., native Willie Schooler and his partner, Larry J. Nutch, of Alma, Kan., teamed up to come out of the fourth callback position to win the #8 with a time of 36.4 on four head to win $45,100.
The 2011 Cinch National Finals of Team Roping will be held October 22-30 at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City. Ropers qualify for the event by earning "shoot out" positions during the more than 85 USTRC sanctioned events around the country, as well as its seven Regional Finals. For more information, contact the USTRC at www.ustrc.com or by calling 254.968.0002.
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