Headers, heelers and their horses all are part of the team in team roping, pitted against quick-footed and quick-witted steers in the arena.
Skeeter Hill and Tanner Lutrell rode away with the top prizes from the Gracie Lee Haught Memorial Children’s Fund team roping that drew some of the county’s finest cowpunchers to Payson Event Center on Aug. 8 and 9.
Hill finished as the high money header and Lutrell lassoed high money heeler honors. Both received saddles for their victories.
Hill teamed with Ranger Hill to take first in the averages among the No. 9 ropers. Their time on three go-arounds was 27.97.
In the No. 13 roping, Hill hooked up with Joe Mike Clem to take first in the averages with a time of 19.86.
Lutrell had a busy two days competing in four of the USTRC classifications.
In the No. 10 class, he was first in the averages heeling for Shayne Lutrell. The two’s time on three head was 24.66. Among the No. 11 ropers, Tanner and Shayne turned in the fastest time of the event, 7.40.
Tanner Lutrell was also second in the No. 10 class while teaming with Pat Kirby. The two were clocked in 26.73. Lutrell and Kirby were also second in the averages among the No. 9 ropers in 31.66.
In the No. 8 class, Lutrell and Wyatt Lloyd were second in 29.52.
On Sunday morning, Clint James and Walt Cline took first in the averages in the No. 11 Calcutta Roping in 27.67.
Among the headers, Ranger Hill won a buckle for being tops in No. 3 and under. Kirby got the buckle for being the best in No. 4 events and Shayne Lutrell took honors in No. 5 and over.
Among the headers, Chris Andrade won for No. 3 and under, Walt Cline was finest among No. 4 and Shawn Connolly roped No.5 and over buckle laurels.
Ryan Tripp and Shawn Grant turned in the fastest time of the two days — 6.09.
Also, 12-year-old Chelsie Stodghill wowed the crowd with a performance befitting a much more experienced roper. She teamed with Joe Mike Clem to finish fourth among the No. 10 ropers in 34.36.
The evening prior to the start of the team roping, Stodghill rode her steed Leo to the fastest time (17.93) in the barrel racing competition.
All the proceeds from the barrel racing, team roping and other events held at PEC benefited the GLH Children’s Fund.
The fund was founded in honor of Gracie Lee Haught who passed away at three years old. The fund is dedicated to raising money to provide medical care and safety for the children in and around Payson.
The ranking system
Newcomers to the sport of rodeo probably watch team roping competition, especially the GLH benefit, wondering, “What is a No. 9 roper? How is a No. 8 roper different from a No. 4?” And, “What does pick or draw mean?”
Those are terms announcers mouth when covering team-roping events.
The number classifications of almost 127,000 team ropers from across North America are doled out and maintained by the United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC).
The number system handicaps member ropers on a TRIAD system.
In it, USTRC officials assign all ropers a competition number based on rodeo performance profiles and online balloting in which ropers have the opportunity to rate their fellow competitors from within their own area.
Factors the USTRC takes in assigning numbers are money won, how often a roper competes, consistency, who a roper ropes with, how fast they rope and what others think.
Then through a complex system of weights and standards, those factors are analyzed and the roper’s ability is assigned a number classification.
In entering an event, the roper competes in an assigned division against others with his or her same ability.
USTRC officials say the TRIAD system provides everyone, regardless of age or ability, the fair and equal opportunity to compete.
As for “draw or pick,” it simply means in some ropings competitors can either draw their partner from a pool of contestants or pick a personal choice.