By Ted Harbin/for the Guymon Pioneers Day Rodeo Committee
GUYMON, Okla. – The magic number for Kory Koontz is 20.
He’s one of the greatest ropers in ProRodeo and might just be the best heeler to have never won a world championship. Over the course of his storied career, the Sudan, Texas, cowboy has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 19 times. He’d like 2015 to mark his 20th trip to the sport’s grand finale.
“For a long time, the number in my mind that I had was that I wanted to make 20 of them,” he said, referring to the 10-round finale that takes place in Las Vegas each December. “I’ve missed it the last three years.”
On the night of May 1, he made another significant move in his plan to return by taking the third-round and average lead at the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo with header Colby Lovell. The tandem posted a 7.1-second run during the first performance; their cumulative time of 20.1 seconds through three go-rounds gives them a significant advantage with three performances remaining in Oklahoma’s richest rodeo.
“I think I’ve won it twice (2005-06),” said Koontz, who just resumed his partnership with Lovell in the last couple of months. “I’ve been here at least 20 times.”
Now he’d like to win his third Pioneer Days Rodeo trophy belt with Lovell; the two roped together in 2010, the first of four consecutive NFR qualifications for Lovell. Since then, Koontz has teamed with Erich Rogers, Brock Hanson and Chad Masters, while Lovell has partnered with York Gill, Russell Cardoza and Martin Lucero.
They quickly found success in 2015 as partners, so they decided to stick it out.
“Our plan is to stay in Texas and here in Oklahoma and get some money,” Koontz said. “When it’s time to go to Reno (Nev.) and get going for the summer, we’ll give it a run and try to get back to the NFR.
“Now we’ve got our game face on, and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got to go back there.”
As long as they continue to find success like they have in the Oklahoma Panhandle this week, their chances are good.
“We’re just doing our job,” Koontz said. “We drew just medium-type steers, and we did what we do. My partner did a good job, and I came around there and heeled all three of them. It was almost like we made the same runs three times in a row.”
That seems to be a winning combination.
Courtesy of PRCA