By Julie Mankin
RENO, Nev. – A pair of natives of Rigby, Idaho, came from behind despite an unexpected horse change to split $72,000 for winning the #12 High Desert Showdown on June 26 in Reno, Nevada.
Both Jake Erickson and Clay Elkington drove about eight hours specifically for the roping, which is part of Wrangler BFI Week presented by Yeti. Anchored by the 42nd Annual Bob Feist Invitational (BFI) for the pros on June 24, the week of amateur competitions wrapped up the following day with the Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Challenge.
At the sixth callback position, Erickson and Elkington needed a 9.49-second run to take over the lead. But they each roped aggressively to come tight in 7.01 seconds – the fastest run of the short round. Surprisingly, the next five straight teams either missed or lost their ropes.
“I didn’t think we’d win from sixth callback,” said Erickson, a full-time sales and marketing director at an assisted-living facility in St. George, Utah. “We just thought we’d put a little pressure on them.”
Erickson only had the one partner in the enter-twice roping, but said they share a similar game plan, so it works. The No. 6 header has a wife and five kids at home, and starts horses in his spare time that his father, John Erickson, raises to race. In fact, they recently sold one to WNFR header Kaleb Driggers. In Reno, Jason’s head horse, Rooster, is one that came off the racetrack. However, when Rooster came up packing a left hind leg after the first round, he was in a bind.
He bumped into a fellow Utah native, Kelson Robinson, whom he’s roped against for years and who was on the grounds to compete in the Reno Rodeo. He then rode Robinson’s horse – which he’d never ridden before – on the next three steers of the #12 Showdown. After the win, Erickson prepared to drive home in order to be at work the next day, while being teased about the “mount money” he would owe Robinson.
“This roping was better than I even expected,” Erickson said. “There were more teams than I thought and the prizeline was a lot bigger than I knew. This is the best #12 roping I’ve been to outside the Finale in Las Vegas.”
His partner, 21-year-old Elkington, is classified as a 6.5 on both ends, but headed this year for Central Arizona College, placing sixth at the recent College National Finals with Cody Burnside. After obtaining his liberal arts degree, he’ll return for another semester this fall. Elkington, who just bought his PRCA permit, hopes to one day qualify for the WNFR.
In Reno, Elkington was heeling on a mare his father also raised, out of his former head horse that unexpectedly died on his way to the CNFR. He figures he’ll buy a new head horse with his $36,000. Both partners are hoping Erickson won’t be forced to buy a new one, as well.
All events during Wrangler BFI Week were live-streamed on www.WranglerNetwork.com.
Complete Results from the #12 High Desert Showdown on June 26:
First Round: 1. Chance Kretschmer and Nick Wilkinson, 7.65 seconds, $3,500; 2. J.T. Bradley and Ryan Fowler, 7.70, $3,000; 3. Justin Marcus and Tyler Gallaway, 7.76, $2,500. Second Round: 1. Cory Wiese and Jake Rodriguez, 5.85, $3,500; 2. Lee Newman and James Watson, 6.05, $3,000; 3. J.T. Bradley and Colton Gow, 6.16, $2,500. Short Round (that didn’t place in the average): 1. Barry Berg and Dustin Noblitt, 13.61, $2,000; 2. Jason Erickson and Clay Elkington, 7.01, $1,200; 3. Brandt Ross and Michael Tash, 7.38, $1,000.
Average: 1. Jason Erickson and Clay Elkington, 32.23 seconds on four, $72,000; 2. Rick Montera and Daniel Rice, 34.72, $41,000; 3. Teo Maestrejuan and Bryan Grenke, 34.86, $25,000; 4. Cersten Branquinho and Colton Campbell, 34.89, $16,000; 5. Beverly Robbins and Greg Zwernemann, 35.60, $14,000; 6. Chance Kretschmer and Nick Wilkinson, 38.03, $13,000; 7. Brandt Ross and Michael Tash, 38.92, $10,000; 8/9. (tie) Griffin Scarlett and Ken Matheson and Jeff Atkinson and Brady Atkinson, 39.65 seconds each, $8,000 each; 10. Beverly Robbins and Jessy Remsburg, 40.65, $4,000