by ProRodeo.com | May 18, 2014
TORRINGTON, Wyo. – Roger Branch was steady all weekend, and fast when it mattered most.
It added up to the veteran cowboy from Perkins, Okla., winning the fifth annual National Circuit Finals Steer Roping championship May 17-18 at the Goshen County Fairgrounds indoor arena.
Branch, of the Prairie Circuit, roped his steer in the four-man final-round shootout in 11.1 seconds to win to claim the victory. Howdy McGinn, of the Columbia River Circuit, had a time of 12.5 seconds to finish second while Bryce Davis and Doug Cox – the other finalists – had no-times in the finals.
“It’s all or nothing when you get a chance to win something like this,” said Branch, 52, who was competing in his first NCFSR. “It feels really good to compete and win at this level. After seven rounds, I hadn’t won any money, but I was second in the average (for $1,872).”
Branch was one of three cowboys to post a time in the first seven rounds. The Turquoise Circuit’s Chance Kelton, the average winner with a time of 87.4 seconds on seven head, and Doug Cox of the Montana Circuit were the others.
That trio was among the eight who qualified for the semifinal round, with the top four times from that shootout round moving on to the sudden-death final round.
“Chance had a great weekend – he was the one to beat,” Branch said, “but he had a little tough luck at the end.”
Roping last in the semifinals, Kelton missed his loop. Branch had roped next-to-last in the semis and posted a time of 13.0 seconds, good for third in the round.
“I had to beat 13.7 seconds and that would get me in the finals, so that was a real good run,” Branch said.
In the final round, Cox had a no-time before Branch’s run of 11.1 seconds. Branch said he wasn’t comfortable, despite the good time he’d put up as a target.
“Bryce was behind me, and Howdy had just tied one in 10.7, and we had the best steers going,” Branch said. “I just had to sit there and hold my breath.”
Branch’s time stood up when Davis had a no-time and McGinn tied his steer in 12.5 seconds.
“That was a great feeling to know I’d won,” Branch said. “This was the most fun I’ve had roping in a long time.”
He finished with total earnings of $6,415.
Courtesy of PRCA