Through five rounds of competition, three teams continued to stand out in the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping U.S. Open Championships held October 24 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Father and son team David and Ryan Motes, of Tolar and Weatherford, Tex., respectively, were remarkably consistent throughout the day, while another Texas duo, Luke Brown of Morgan Mill and Martin of Stephenville kept the competition constantly looking over their cantle.
But it was former World Champion Chad Masters of Clarksville, Tenn., and partner Jake Corkill of Lipan, Tex., who brought the heat in the short round to capture the US Open Championship and the top check of $71,600 for the team.
Roping in a time of 44.52 on six head, Masters and Corkill had to follow a smokin’ run by the Motes’, needing a 7.68 to take the win; just “another practice run,” as described by the announcer.
Masters broke from the box swinging and landed a sweet head loop with Corkill tracking close, laying down a loop that swept the steer off his feet.
It was the thriller the crowd of thousands had been hoping for and the paycheck that Masters and Corkill depended on.
“This is how we make our living and there are not many like this one to compete in for the whole year, so this roping is very, very important to us,” said Corkill, who also won the Open Tour heeling bonus check of $10,000. “If we don’t come through and win a big roping, it can really mess you up financially for the rest of the year.”
Knowing how tight the race was, Masters admitted that the energy of the event and the depth of the field could be distracting, even to accomplished ropers like themselves.
“It sure is easy to get caught up in how good the ropers are who are here, but today we both had the same game plan and that was to catch six steers,” he said. “We just competed with ourselves, and I don’t know if that helped us nerve-wise but if you get to watching the other ropers and thinking about the other runs, sometimes you can rush yourself.”
While both admitted that nerves can be a factor, they also concede that their ability to handle those nerves has changed over the years.
“It’s different now,” said Corkill. “When I was younger, I really didn’t know the meaning of money. I roped for fun, and when I won it was great and now I have a place and I’m fixing to have a family and when you think ‘if I catch this steer they’re going to hand me a check for $35,000,’ you don’t let that get away.”
Corkill emphasizes that to keep the competition in focus he remembers that at the end of the day, competing one roping over another is not that much different as long as you remember what you’ve got going for you.
“You just have to remember that it’s just another steer and you’re on your best horse and it’s another day,” he said. “The money is the only thing that makes it any different so if you can block that out there is really just the roping.”
Masters reflected on his years as youngster when he wandered the aisles of the USTRC National Finals of Team Roping and made it a goal to rope at this event.
“I’ve really noticed all the kids here, how they’re roping in the fast lane and how well they’re handling their rope,” he said. “I remember being here when I was nine or ten and being able to name every guy who was here that roped at the NFR.”
But don’t think winning over $70,000 is going to go to the new champions’ heads. For them, there is always going to be someone chasing them and maybe someone with a bigger name.
“I was going up into the stands and there was this little girl who kept hollering at me so I went over to her,” said Masters, grinning. “She asked me if I knew who Trevor Brazile was.”
Motes and Motes roped in a time of 45.14 to take total earnings of $29,800 while the team of Brown and Lucero roped in a time of 45.65 to earn $25,300.
Open Tour Champion Header
Gabe Hildebrand, a youthful 20-year-old from Bartlett, Kansas, captured the US Open Tour bonus check of $10,000 as the High Point Header. Realizing about half way through the season that he was on track for the bonus, he figured the extra cash would come in handy and headed for the win.
“I made it a point to go to a few more USTRC ropings through the year and made sure that coming into the Finals I would have a 30-point lead so no one roping here could catch me,” he said of his strategy. “I came in with a 38-point lead.”
Hildebrand said that the Open Tour is a strategy that has worked for the USTRC, attracting more open ropers to regular season events in order to make it to the Finals and go for the bonus check.
“It makes a lot of people go to the ropings who might not necessarily go without the Tour points.”
Even at 20, however, Gabe recognizes that staying on the leaderboard is always going to be a goal and one that will be tough to reach, noting the teenagers at this year’s Finals that have already taken home big checks.
“Team roping has just been getting better, even back before the Camarillos,” he said, giving a nod to the family that changed to sport immeasurably. “It’s just going to keep getting better.”
The United States Team Roping Championships is the official home of America’s Cowboy Sport, representing more than 35,000 competitive team ropers across the country. USTRC brings the sport of team roping to the national stage by providing competition with integrity as the trusted source of team roping competition rules and classifications.
For more information and a full schedule of events, go to http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=k95adibab&et=1103827043340&s=994&e=001gVn-Jp8 KTcRfcJyzEbqSdGYzrGXvQehe1dpPm9eUP2j394C3NYJ_qNybR_7ecbjsidXKY2ehm47VPQ5AnCy iagv0pPQpJW1AkjHDz0AaO78=> www.ustrc.com or call 254.968.0002.