Roping contest draws old hands, new blood alike

Golf might be the more common recreational activity for those getting a little older, but don't count out calf roping just yet.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Calf roper Wayne Dabbs ropes his calf Saturday with a time of 10.61 at the 8th annual Joe's Boot Shop calf roping competition at the Curry County Events Center.

In fact, if you're someone like former world champ Dave Brock, it's natural to keep competing — even if it's some 33 years after you were on top. And it's no passive hobby for Brock, who was clearly displeased with himself after getting a no-time on one attempt Saturday at the Joe's Boot Shop calf roping event in Clovis.

"I get aggravated, but that's part of wanting to be a winner," said Brock, a calf roping world champion in 1979. "I made some mistakes today."

On Saturday, each competitor had four roping opportunities for a chance to get into the short-go and a chance to make more money.

A veteran like Brock was well aware that one miss, in a round with over a hundred other contestants, meant that he probably had no shot to make it into the final, most profitable round of the day.

Still, the Springtown, Texas cowboy chose to look on the upside of the whole experience.

"I'm 61 years old and still have the opportunity to come rope with a lot of money," Brock said.

Other contestants at the Curry County Special Events Center also came from notable distances for some competition:

  • Wayne Dabbs' grandfather, now in his 70s, also is still calf roping. However, Dabbs made the 400-plus mile trip from Lockhart, Texas with a friend for his first attempt at calf roping in Clovis.

"It's the first year I've joined this association, but it's great; I like it," said Dabbs, 43, after two sub-10 second runs on Saturday. "I've done roughstock, but never calf roping. I just got older, and this is less strenuous on your bones.

"I was 10 seconds on one, nine on one. But I broke the barrier on the other one, so I'm kind of out of it," he added.

  • Nick Travalgia, 18, moved to Oklahoma for cowboy work after graduating high school in Canada last spring.

This spring, the youngster is testing the market to see if his job skills can translate into outside money.

"I filled my pro card last summer back at home and have been winning a little bit down here," Travaglia said.

Several years the junior of many of his fellow ropers, the Canadian transplant said he pays close attention to what the veterans have to say.

"It's pretty cool to be out here roping with those guys," Travaglia said. "I just watch and ask questions and it helps a lot."

  • Sporting a white shirt with the word "God" surrounded by a pink heart near his right shoulder, Robert Collins of Anson, Texas looked more like a linebacker than a wrangler.

But his skills as a roper were evident as Collins still counted himself among a group that hadn't received a no-time after two runs. Around midday on Saturday, Collins was still optimistic that he could get back home with some of the purse.

"This is the Super Bowl of roping. Yes sir, you've got to be here," said Collins, a USDA Conservation Service employee in his non-roping life.

Last year, Collins won a preliminary round and gathered several hundred dollars for his performance. But Collins assured that money isn't everything when it comes to calf roping.

"I've been here several years in a row — it's been a blessing. It puts a smile on my face," Collins said. "We're around a lot good people and having a lot of fun. I'm gonna keep doing it until the good Lord says I can't no more."

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