First person: Growing up roping

Courtesy photo Jesse Clark of Dora took top honors in Sunday’s Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping open competition.

The seventh annual Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping event drew more than 1,000 entries from across the country. But its top honors were claimed by a teenager less than 40 miles away.

Jesse Clark, 18, of Dora took top honors in Sunday’s open competition and earned $9,700 and a saddle — quite a payoff for the $500 entry fee.

A 12-year-old Clark competed in the inaugural event in 2005, and he’s come back “every year they have it.”

Clark recently finished up his freshman year at Eastern New Mexico University, where he competes on the rodeo team, and plans to compete in pro rodeos fulltime after he graduates with his general agriculture degree. Right now, he competes in about 100 events per year (many roping events are multi-day events, which each day a separate competition), and is leaving Friday morning for competition in Denton, Texas.

Growing up: It was roping pretty much all the time. That’s pretty much all I ever did. I played basketball until junior high, then I was homeschooled freshman through senior year. I just roped, didn’t do any other sports. I love it. Always have, always will. There’s just something about it. No other sport gives you the adrenaline this will.

Why this event? It’s a great roping event. There aren’t many calf roping events where you can win this much money. Joe (Rhodes, owner of Joe’s Boot Shop) has done a great job, (Organizer) Wayne Needham’s done a great job.

It’s a lot easier (competing locally). You don’t have as much fuel invested in it. You don’t have to stay there every night, stuff like that. My truck gets anywhere from 9 to 10 (miles per gallon) pulling everything. Empty, it will get 20 to 25.

On competing with veterans: I’ve roped with the big boys the past two or three years. You think about it, but not really. It helps me, because I know I have to step up my roping.

Luck as a factor: If you draw a good (calf), you’ve got to use it. If you draw a bad one, you’ve got to use it and hope you draw a good one in the next round to make up for it.

Staying in the game: (I’ll rope) as long as I can do it, as long as the good Lord lets me.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Kevin Wilson