Rim country cowboy Homer Sanders has lassoed top honors in the North American Calf Roping Association National Championships.
The roping finals were Oct. 25 and 26 at the Apache Gold Casino and Event Center in San Carlos.
Sanders narrowly qualified for the national championships, finishing 15th in a series of NACRA ropings held throughout the year. Only the top 15 from the series earned berths into the championship round.
"Going into the finals, I didn't think I had much of a chance," Sanders said.
During the first day of the championships, the qualifiers competed in four go-arounds.
Sanders placed in two go-arounds and wrapped up the day second overall in the averages.
"I wasn't thinking much about where I was in the standings until someone came up to me and told me I was just behind (the leader)," he said.
On the second and final day, Sanders won two go-arounds to finish first in the averages.
If there was a touch of the unusual in Sanders' victory, it was the fact he hasn't had much roping practice as of late.
"I hadn't roped in a couple of months," he said. "I just kind of decided at the last minute to get away and go down there (to San Carlos) and compete."
A calf roper for about the past six years, Sanders rode his horse, Gray, during the entire competition.
In addition to competing on the NACRA circuit, Sanders also participates in Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association events.
For winning the championship, the Rim country roper received a hand-tooled leather saddle awarded by event sponsors Bison Ranch and Apache Gold Casino.
"It's the nicest one I've ever owned," he said.
Sanders says he's not certain when he'll saddle up Gray and return to the arena.
"The PRCA gets going in January," he said. "I might do some things then."
When not roping or working at his sign business, Sanders is a wrestling coach at Rim Country Middle School.