By Bob Stephens/for ProRodeo.com
TORRINGTON, Wyo. – Veteran Ora Taton is the leader after the first day of the sixth annual National Circuit Finals Steer Roping here April 25 at the Goshen County Fair Grounds.
Taton, representing the Badlands Circuit, has a time of 56.3 seconds on four head. Chance Kelton of the Turquoise Circuit is the only other cowboy to post a time in all four rounds; he’s in second place with a time of 59.4 seconds.
“It’s always a good feeling when the roping is going good,” Taton said. “We’re not done yet, though, and steer roping can turn around in a hurry.”
That’s especially true in a tournament-style rodeo like this one. Sunday’s final day will consist of two rounds for each of the 28 qualifiers, with the top eight finishers in the six-head aggregate advancing to the semifinals, where the slate will be wiped clean and the four fastest times will advance to the final round. The champion will be determined by the best of the four times in the final round.
“I’ll just rope like I always do, just get ’em down,” Taton said. “My strategy doesn’t change much.”
Taton, from Rapid City, S.D., has qualified for three NCFSR events. Seven circuits – Badlands, Columbia River, Montana, Mountain States, Prairie, Texas and Turquoise – are each represented by four contestants.
Seven cowboys posted a time in three of the four rounds. Jason Evans of the Texas Circuit is third (40.5 seconds), followed by Joe Talbot of the Columbia River Circuit (40.6), J.P Wickett of the Prairie Circuit (42.6), Tygh Campbell of the Columbia River Circuit (52.4), Wade Shoemaker of the Mountain States Circuit (55.3), Troy Tillard of the Mountain States Circuit (58.5) and Paul Tierney of the Badlands Circuit (59.4).
Eight more cowboys posted a time in two of the four rounds.
Evans won the first round – which earned him $1,463 – and Cody Lee of the Texas Circuit won Round 2. Kelton was first in Round 3 while Wickett, the 2013 NCFSR champion, was victorious in Round 4.
Taton took second place in Round 1 and Round 4, each of those worth $1,097. Each go-round pays four places.
“It’s great the way they’ve added money to the circuit system,” Taton said. “It’s made this worth more and you can make some good money even without winning a round.”
Taton, who’ll turn 46 in July, is no stranger to success. He qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping in 2003-04 and won the average title in 2003.
“It was quite a shock to everybody,” he said with a laugh.
He’s especially thankful to have the NCFSR – which has a total payout of $43,889 – in Torrington.
“That’s really nice for me because it’s only three hours from home,” he said. “My wife (Jeri) and my daughter (Cortney) were here today and that makes it even more fun. Steer ropers don’t get a lot of recognition, and this is another chance for us to get some of that and gives us a chance to win some good money.”
Winner of the six-head average will earn $2,633 while second place will get $1,975, with $1,317 going to third place and $658 to fourth.
The top four cowboys in the semifinal round receive the same payout that goes for the top four average places. First place in the final round will earn $3,511 with $2,633 going to second, $1,756 to third and $878 to fourth.
Courtesy of PRCA