In team roping, seconds can mean thousands of dollars to be won, or lost, and that was the case for more than 200 team ropers who made their way on Saturday to the Curry County Event Center to compete in the United States Team Roping Championships Southwest Regionals.
Among them was a pair of ropers who had never roped together before, but on the word of another competitor who knew them both, decided to take a chance. The gamble paid off for the team of Rebecca Neuhaus of Huntsville, Texas and Rex AllenHawkins of Santa Teresa in the No. 10 Shoot Out.
The duo roped a smooth 8.54 in the final go-round to post a cumulative time of 41.66, fast enough to beat the highest qualifiers to the finals by a mere three-tenths of a second and win $10,000.
For Neuhaus, the win was especially gratifying since she hadn’t really planned to come in the first place.
“I finally decided to come because it was 106 at home and I figured this had to be a lot cooler,” she said.
In ranching and real estate in Huntsville, Neuhaus had not escaped the attention of Hawkins at other ropings, so he was happy to rope with her.
“I had seen her rope before and knew that she’d be able to catch and put the steer where he needed to be so I could get a clean catch,” he said, saying that he would definitely look to rope with her in the future.
The thrill of winning can make one shake with excitement. That was the case with 17-year-old Clayton High School student Janesa Garcia who, with 19-year-old college student Brandon Baca of Las Vegas, took home $10,000 after winning the No. 11 Shoot Out.
The two, former neighbors, have known each other since they were toddlers, but the decision to rope at the finals was last-minute.
“We didn’t decide to enter this together until this morning,” said Baca, who also took home the win earlier in the week in the #13 Shoot Out, bringing his individual earnings total to well over the $10,000 mark.
Garcia was also the first woman of the weekend to hit the board as a champion. “It’s awesome,” she said.
The pair had come back into the final round as the second high callback, stopping the clock in a time of 7.87 for a cumulative time of 34.37 on four. But when highest qualifying team heard the dreaded sound of the barrier warning buzzer, indicating a five-second penalty, they knew it was in the bag.
Both plan to spend the some of the money on trucks, and put some toward savings for their educations.
Winning the No. 11 Preliminary, a qualifier for the Shoot Out, was the Clovis team of Michael A. Bell and Ryan Figg. The pair roped four in a time of 32.37 to earn $4,660, while Vincente Guerrero of Santa Fe and Cavin Jacobs of Estancia earned $1,200 for their work in winning the Incentive division with a time of 28.8 on three.
Taking home the win in the No. 10 Preliminary was the team of Hadley R. Howe of Crossroads and Stewy Kinley of Portales. They made quick work of the final steer, roping in a time of 8.41 to post a top position time of 34.84 on four head and earn a check for $5,142.