Roping competition draws pro cowboys

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

In the 1950s, some of the best calf ropers in the world competed in Clovis.

World champions including Toots Mansfield, Lovington’s Troy Fort, House’s Glen Franklin would shell out $500 to enter. Clovis’ B.J. Pierce won the event one year.

“The arena would be plumb full,” said Pierce, who three times finished in the top five in the world in calf roping. “It was a very popular event.”

Fifty years later, Clovis’ elite roping heritage will be resurrected for a weekend.

The inaugural Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping competition runs today through Sunday at the Mounted Patrol Arena in Clovis. The event culminates with an open competition scheduled to feature 10 of the top 23 Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association ropers and six of last year’s top 10 finishers, according to the PRCA Web site.

“This is kind of Clovis tradition and Clovis has a reputation for putting on these kind of events and we hope this event adds to this reputation,” said Scot Stinnett, advertising director for Joe’s Boot Shop.

“Most of the big-name guys are coming,” he said. “We’re just tickled to death about the guys that have entered this thing.”

To cap off the weekend is a 10-head match between world champion and Hereford resident Monty Lewis and New Mexico native Clint Cooper, who finished ninth at the most recent world championship.

“It’s a great opportunity. I for sure wanted to do it,” Lewis said. “They’re a lot of fun for us and they’re really interesting for the people in the stands.”

Lewis said an added bonus is competing close to home.
“I’m sure all my family will be over there; they don’t get to see me rope a lot,” Lewis said.

Cooper said he participates in 100 to 125 events a year across the country. His father, Roy, is a six-time world champion, will also compete on Sunday.

Stinnett said the event landed these big names because of opportunistic scheduling. Most of the cowboys will be traveling from California to Oklahoma for PRCA events, so they can fit Clovis into their schedule.

“This just happened to work out and hopefully we can hit this gap every year,” Stinnett said.

The weekend starts Friday with under-15 and under-19 breakaway and tie-down events, with handicap matches on Saturday.

Sunday morning is the advanced handicap events for ropers just below the pro level.

Then comes the open tie-down starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, where the professional cowboys will compete for a pot that will likely exceed $30,000, Stinnett said.

The open competition will feature the Young Guns Shootout, with Lewis and Cooper going 10-heads each in an exhibition.

“It’ll be a great match,” said Cooper, 23, “We’re both young guys and really athletic.”

Cooper and Lewis competed in Clovis before in the High Plains Junior Rodeo.

“It’s a great place to rope,” said Lewis, 24. “People come out and they enjoy it. It’s a good place for us, very supportive.”

Lewis said he and Cooper have known each other for years, competing in the junior circuit, up through high school, college and the pros, but they’ve never had a match before.

“It’s like boxing for 10 rounds or playing four quarters or a seven-game series,” Stinnett said. “You don’t win it on the third round.”

Cowboys expected to attend:
• Monty Lewis, 2004 world champion, ranked 16th
• Clint Cooper, finished 10th last year
• Roy Cooper, six-time world champion
• Joe Beaver, former world champion
• Fred Whitfield, former world champion, ranked fourth, finished third last year
• Blair Burk, ranked third, finished fifth last year
• Jerome Schneeberger, ranked seventh, finished eighth last year
• Doug Pharr, ranked second
• Jeff Chapman, ranked ninth
• Justin Maass, ranked 10th
• Jim Locke, ranked 21st
• Cash Myers, ranked 22nd
• Houston Hutto, ranked 23rd
• Rick Kiehefer, ranked 27th

Source: PRCA Web site

Fast facts

Friday, 6 p.m.: $100 entry fee:
• 15-under breakaway, two head and short
• 19-under breakaway, two head and short
• 15-under tie-down, two head and short
• 15-under tie-down, two head and short

Saturday, 9 a.m.: $280 entry fee:
• Beginner tie-down, four head and short
• No. 1 handicap tie-down, four head and short
• No. 2 handicap tie-down, four head and short

Sunday, 8 a.m.: $10 spectator fee, $280 entry fee:
• No. 3 handicap tie-down, four head and short
• Cowboy Church service
• No. 4 handicap tie-down, four head and short
• Open breakaway, four head and short

2 p.m. (tentative): $500 entry fee:
• Open tie-down, three head and short
• Young Guns Shootout