by Jim Bainbridge
By Ted Harbin/for the Rooftop Rodeo committee
ESTES PARK, Colo. – Every young man that grew up in rodeo has had a dream to compete in the sport’s super bowl, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Heeler Dugan Kelly of Paso Robles, Calif., has accomplished that goal six times in a career that began 18 seasons ago. He’s hoping to return to Las Vegas in December with a second-year cowboy, header Cody Snow of Los Olivos, Calif.
“I’ve known him since he was a little kid,” Kelly, 38, said of his partner. “I’ve had my eye on him for a while.”
On July 8, during the third performance of the Rooftop Rodeo, the tandem stopped the clock in 4.5 seconds to take the team roping lead with three days of competition remaining. The veteran and the young gun proved they have a solid partnership.
Snow, 19, sits 19th in the world standings with a little more than $26,000 in earnings; Kelly is 14th on the heeling money list with $30,110. If their time holds up for a solid finish, those figures should increase come Monday when the rodeo concludes.
“He knows where to enter everywhere and knows how to win,” Snow said of the veteran. “That’s good.”
Kelly estimates he’s been to Estes Park’s rodeo every year since 1998. Winning the Rooftop Rodeo title would be a great way to not only pad the pocketbook but also give him a great memory in the sport.
“It’s just a great rodeo and (has) a lot of money,” he said about the purse. “You get a good chance to win some money. The weather is nice; it’s beautiful up here and has great atmosphere.”
That combination of a top purse and outstanding accommodations is an attractive feature for ProRodeo’s best. About 800 contestants were scheduled to be part of the six days of competition.
“I’ve struggled this last week,” Kelly said. “It felt good to finally catch one.”
Every catch means an opportunity for team ropers earn their way to the NFR.
“I’ve been to the finals, so, of course, that’s my goal to make it,” he said. “I want to be in the top five going in there and dang sure to be in the top five when it’s over. You just want to have a chance; coming into the ninth and 10th round, your name needs to be in the top.”
It is in Estes Park so far.
Courtesy of PRCA