Since 1944, cowboys have had a lot to celebrate at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson, Ariz. This iconic, Southwestern rodeo has featured some of ProRodeo’s biggest names competing for one of the biggest payouts of the year.
Of more than 700 ProRodeo competitions in 2019, Tucson tied with four rodeos for the 24th-highest committee purse at $160,000. The others that equaled Tucson were Dodge City, Kan., Puyallup, Wash., Clovis, Calif., and San Angelo, Texas.
With such a large payout, it’s not uncommon for cowboys to leave Tucson with more than $10,000, but only the best make the rodeo record book.
Team ropers Jake Orman and Walt Woodard had plenty to celebrate on Feb. 19, 2019, after setting the Tucson record with their 4.6-second run. The newly formed duo shattered the previous record by 0.3 seconds, which was shared by four sets of team ropers: Matt Sherwood/Randon Adams and Derrick Begay/Victor Aros in 2008, Spencer Mitchell/Broc Cresta in 2011 and Steven Duby/Evan Arnold in 2018.
Orman, now 28, has won nearly a quarter of a million dollars since beginning his ProRodeo career in 2010. His best season came in 2017 when he ranked 21st in the PRCA | RAM World Standings for team roping heading with $60,146. He finished the 2019 season ranked 68th in heading with $19,173.
Woodard is a two-time team roping heeling world champion (1981 and 2007) with 20 qualifications to the Wrangler NFR (1976-90, ’93, 2006-08 and ’11). He ended the 2019 season ranked 29th for heeling with $36,612 at 64 years old.
Cowboys have from Feb. 15-23 to top Orman and Woodard’s record, and the rest, while claiming their share of the 2020 prize money and picking up valuable points on the ProRodeo Tour.
• Total payout: $331,218, 2017
• All-around: $14,025, Cody DeMers, 2007
• Bareback riding: 93 points, Devan Reilly, 2018 (178/2, Jessy Davis, 2006)
• Steer wrestling: 3.8 seconds, Lynn Nieveen, Brian Bauerle and Cash Myers, 2002; Travis Carnine, 2011; Curtis Cassidy, 2017 (9.8/2 Tony Currin, 1987; 13.6/3, Josh Peek, 2011; Casey McMillen, 2013)
• Team roping: 4.6 seconds, Jake Orman/Walt Woodard, 2019 (17.1/3, Travis Tryan/Matt Zancanella, 2003)
• Saddle bronc riding: 90 points, Zeke Thurston, 2015 (176/2, Billy Etbauer, 2004)
• Tie-down roping: 7.7 seconds, Jim C. Smith, 1993 (26.6/3, Rusty Sewalt, 1993)
• Barrel racing: 16.97 seconds, Barbara Merrill, 2004 (34.33/2 Charmayne James, 2003; 51.66/3, Charmayne James, 1997)
• Bull riding: 93 points, Dustin Elliott, 2006 (181/2, Dustin Elliott, 2006)
Courtesy of PRCA