GREATEST MO­MENTS

A look back at 27 years of the USTRC’s Cinch Na­tional Fi­nals of Team Roping’s big­gest mo­ments.

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Features - By Chelsea Shaf­fer

In prepa­ra­tion for this month’s 28th United States Team Roping Cham­pi­onship’s Cinch Na­tional Fi­nals of Team Roping, take a look back at some of the best mo­ments from the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., to the Jim Norick Arena in Ok­la­homa City. by Chelsea Shaf­fer

From the red dirt of Guthrie, Ok­la­homa’s Lazy E Arena to the con­crete walls of the Jim Norick Arena in Ok­la­homa City, the United States Team Roping Cham­pi­onship’s Cinch Na­tional Fi­nals of Team Roping has pro­vided mo­ments that have pumped life through the veins of the sport as the largest roping in the world since 1990. From record-break­ing pay­outs to tear-jerk­ing wins, the Cinch NFTR has been the only place to be each Oc­to­ber for ev­ery­one who swings a rope.

1990 First-Ever USTRC Na­tional Fi­nals of Team Roping

Denny and Con­nie Gen­try were in the hunt for a cen­tral­ized lo­ca­tion to cre­ate in­ter­state com­merce for the sport of team roping. The de­ci­sion came down to the Dal­las-Fort Worth area or the Ok­la­homa City area, and Guthrie’s Lazy E got the win.

“The Lazy E had just been open four or five years and was con­sid­ered by ev­ery­one that swung a rope to be the premier roping fa­cil­ity in the U.S.,” Denny said. “The length of the arena, the Cantina up­stairs, the tele­vi­sion lights for short rounds—there just wasn’t any­thing like it any­where else in the coun­try.”

That roping hosted 650 con­tes­tants and paid out $185,000. Charles Pogue and Steve North­cott won the first US Open.

“No­body knew what to think of it,” Pogue said. “It seemed like a good roping to go to—looking back I had no idea where it was headed. At the time, we were just looking for an­other good place to go. I go pretty much ev­ery year now.”

1993 First Mil­lion-Dol­lar Roping

The Lazy E Arena was still host­ing the NFTR when the roping crossed the $1-mil­lion pay­out mark in 1993. The USTRC im­ple­mented the ro­ta­tion sys­tem at qual­i­fy­ing rop­ings that year with more than 150 teams in each di­vi­sion, and the as­so­ci­a­tion hosted 90 sanc­tioned rop­ings lead­ing up to its fi­nals.

“That was the on­slaught of team rop­ers,” Gen­try said. “When it caught on things just went wild. It was peo­ple com­ing out of the wood­work to play in it. There was no in­crease in prices or any gim­micks. Those first few years, that growth was the in­dus­try ex­plod­ing. It was so new, there had never been any big or­ga­nized team roping like that any­where in the coun­try. Peo­ple would come with their fam­i­lies, park and stay four days and en­ter ev­ery roping. Now, ev­ery­body has a di­vi­sion that fits them and they’ll get in one more. They’ll roll in, rope in their rop­ings and go home. In the old days, peo­ple stayed three days.”

That year, the USTRC’s NFTR had a #5, #7, #9, #11 and an Open.

First All-Girl Team to Win Shoot-Out Di­vi­sion

Florida rop­ers Jodee Motsinger and Robin Bass paired up in Guthrie, Okla., at the fourth an­nual NFTR #5 ShootOut (which to­day would be the #9 un­der TRIAD). In do­ing so, they be­came the first all-girl team to win a Shoot-Out at the NFTR.

“We were high team back, and we won the round,” Motsinger re­mem­bered. “Be­ing a wo­man, it was just crazy. I like to goof off, and I don’t think about stuff that was go­ing on. I was 27. I look at stuff dif­fer­ent now—I’m 51! I looked at Robin and told her ‘That steer sure is pretty.’ I was just try­ing to stay re­laxed. It wasn’t even my head horse—I had to pay her mount money! If it wouldn’t have been for her let­ting me ride her horse it wouldn’t have hap­pened, so I was happy to pay it.”

When the flag dropped on that short round run, both Motsinger and Bass jumped off their horses and bounced around the arena cheer­ing. Motsinger said she re­mem­bers flagger Phillip Mur-

1995 Jerome English and Roy Farr ZLQ ÀUVW URSLQJ

When Roy Farr backed into the box at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., he knew at sec­ond call­back he had a chance at sec­ond place for $25,000 and a new trailer with his part­ner Jerome English. He’d bro­ken out ear­lier in the week, so he let his brindle steer out two ex­tra feet be­fore drop­ping his hand on his geld­ing Floyd’s neck. He thought the sec­ond-place win would be out­stand­ing.

“We were roping pretty good,” Farr re­mem­bered. “I rah (see page 76 for more on Mur­rah) shak­ing his head and laugh­ing.

Motsinger no longer ropes much, as she and her hus­band Guy run a con­ve­nience store in Florida and fol­low their teenage daugh­ter around to soft­ball games.

“Now that my kid plays soft­ball we can go any­where in the South­east and I know peo­ple from roping ev­ery­where we go,” Motsinger said.

“Peo­ple know us. You pick up where you left off.”

1994

knew three of the top four teams, and when we got him roped I rode out the back and was loos­en­ing my cinch. I saw that first call­back missed, and I rode over to Jerome and said, ‘Hey, we won it!’ and he told me, ‘Why, hell yes, we did.’ Typ­i­cal Jerome.” The 1995 #7 Shoot-Out (which was be­fore TRIAD so would be the #11 to­day) was the first roping to pay $100,000 to the win­ning team, and Farr used the pay­out to help set him­self up for the rest of his life.

“I in­vested it in CDs and had an ad­vi­sor,” Farr, who owns and op­er­ates Farr Cat­tle Co. out­side Datil, N.M., said. “It was awesome. I wasn’t broke, but that money sure made ev­ery­thing a lot eas­ier.”

Jerome English passed away in 2016, but not be­fore his son, John, and grand­son, 13-year-old Ster­lin, won the same roping ex­actly 20 years later, pock­et­ing $115,200 to­tal ( see page 93).

1996 1)75 2IÀFLDOO\ 0RYHV WR 2NODKRPD &LW\

The NFTR spent its first five years at least in part at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, but by 1996, the Gen­trys knew they’d out­grown the fa­cil­ity. They made the move to Ok­la­homa City’s State Fair Park’s Jim Norick Arena, host­ing more than 5,000 teams the first full NFTR there.

The pre­lim­i­nar­ies were in Ok­la­homa City in 1994 and 1995, with the Fi­nals Shoot-Outs oc­cur­ing at the Lazy E. The en­tire NFTR moved to Ok­la­homa City in 1996.

2006 First $4-Mil­lion Roping

The USTRC broke an­other record in 2006, with its NFTR pay­ing out $4 mil­lion to rop­ers from across the globe. Colorado’s Dick Le­nard and Todd Wil­son won the #12 Gold Plus Shoot Out, tak­ing home a trac­tor and a pickup truck as well as $72,000 for the team. At the time, Le­nard was 68 and Wil­son was 23.

“That was the first year I made the US Fi­nals,” Wil­son said. “I’d never been there be­fore, but there was some­thing dif­fer­ent about that roping. It was the big­gest thing I’d ever been to, and you could just feel how much was on the line. There’d never been any­thing like it.”

Wil­son made it back with Le- nard twice in the short round, as rop­ers could en­ter twice with the same part­ner back then.

“We were sec­ond and sev­enth high call,” Wil­son re­mem­bered. “I missed him at sev­enth call­back. I’d al­ready boned that sucker, so I wasn’t miss­ing him again.”

That roping stands out as the big­gest win of Wil­son’s ca­reer, though he’s now a mul­ti­ple-time PRCA Moun­tain States Circuit qual­i­fier. He grew up watch­ing Le­nard rope, and by the time they backed into the box at the US Fi­nals to­gether, they’d come tight on dozens of steers in the prac­tice pen and the jack­pot arena.

1999 First $3-Mil­lion Roping with $1-Mil­lion in Added Money with 8,200 teams

As the USTRC hit its 10-year mark, the NFTR was truly hit­ting its stride. As a re­sult, the 1999 NFTR was the first $3-mil­lion roping in his­tory, play­ing host to 8,200 teams.

“Event en­tries had been up all year long, caus­ing the added money to be up,” Gen­try said of the 1999 NFTR. “The Shoot-Out fund in 1999 was more than $1 mil­lion, it was ac­tu­ally $1.2 or $1.4 mil­lion. So the com­bi­na­tion of roper par­tic­i­pa­tion, and it be­ing a growth year for USTRC, both led to that in­crease.”

That year was also the first to see Gold Plus win­ners re­ceive trucks. Charles Pogue and Britt Bock­ius won the Open that year—which paid out a to­tal of $240,000 to open rop­ers.

2011 %HYHUO\ 5REELQV DQG )HUOLQ Charley Win #12 Gold Plus Shoot-Out

Alabama’s Bev­erly Rob­bins begged New Mex­ico’s Fer­lin Charley to rope with her at the 2011 Cinch NFTR after she missed for him at a US Re­gional Fi­nals, but Charley wasn’t sure.

“He didn’t re­ally have a horse, and I think he bor­rowed a cousin’s horse that had been turned out for a long time to bring to Ok­la­homa City,” Rob­bins said. “He hadn’t paid yet, so I called him and got in touch with him and he said he was just com­ing for me—he couldn’t en­ter any­thing else. I don’t know how far his drive was or what he did to get there, but he made it. Up un­til that last morn­ing he wasn’t there, and I was get­ting a lit­tle ner­vous.”

Charley had fam­ily work­ing the chutes at the roping, so when he and Rob­bins came tight on that last steer at third call­back to win the av­er­age with a time of 30.46 sec­onds on four, the chute help went nuts.

“They were all yelling for him,” Rob­bins re­mem­bered. “It was re­ally life chang­ing for him. He was so happy. It was one of those things that was meant to be. It hap­pened the way it was sup­posed to.”

Illi­nois teens Luke Maguire and Tyler Man­ion win #8 Shoot-Out

Two teenagers from the un­likely state of Illi­nois paired up to win the #8 ShootOut in Ok­la­homa City at the 2013 Cinch NFTR, net­ting the team $40,800.

“It was the big­gest roping I’d been to,” Man­ion said. “That was the first year I’d roped there, but I’d watched my dad there mul­ti­ple times. Luke was al­most 16 and I was ready to turn 14 in eighth grade.”

Man­ion drove down with his par­ents fol­lowed by Maguire and his fam­ily, and the Illi­nois con­tin­gency went wild when the two boys came tight on that last steer.

“We were fourth high call,” Man­ion said. “I re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing about that. We were sit­ting back there talk­ing, and peo­ple said we had to get on our horses with one team left. We did our vic­tory lap. Our fam­ily was jump­ing up and down, wav­ing us on. It was the big­gest mo­ment of my life. It made me look into the fu­ture and want to do it again and keep roping.”

Maguire, who is now rodeo­ing in col­lege in Texas, still ropes with Man­ion any chance he gets while Man­ion is ac­tive in high school rodeo.

2013 John and Ster­lin English Win #11 Shootout

Ex­actly 20 years after Jerome English won the #7 Shoot-Out with Roy Farr for $50,000 a man, English’s son John and grand­son Ster­lin won the same roping at the Cinch NFTR. (The #11 Shoot-Out un­der the TRIAD num­ber­ing sys­tem is equal to the old #7.)

“I re­mem­ber call­ing my dad right be­fore the short round,” John said. “He al­ways roped good in short rounds. I asked him to UPS or Fedex me his short round luck, and he said he was send­ing it right away. It was kind of cool that he got to watch us win that.”

The English boys were high call, and John had to hide his nerves to help calm his son.

“He rode up to me right be­fore we ran that steer, and he asked if I was ner­vous,” John said. “I said, ‘No, not re­ally.’ I prob­a­bly was but I wouldn’t tell him that. I told him I thought he was just ex­cited, but he said, ‘No I’m ner­vous.’ I told him he’s caught this steer a mil­lion times in the prac­tice pen. I told him he’s al­ready caught him. I guess that calmed his nerves.”

John’s nerves set­tled the sec­ond that head loop went on his steer, and he watched as his son pulled back on two feet.

“My heel loop was pretty good,” Ster­lin, 13 at the time of the win, said. “I told my dad it was like a dream.”

CHARLES POGUE AND BOBBY HAR­RIS WON THE 1993 US OPEN.

CHARLES POGUE AND BRITT BOCK­IUS WON THE 1999 US OPEN.

2015

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