Hunter Koch – Vernon, Texas ($84,307)
First-time WNFR qualifier
A year ago, Hunter Koch (pronounced Cook) was just finishing up his first year as a heeler in the PRCA.
He spent a good part of that year roping with Billy Bob Brown, a fellow Texan and when it was all said and done, he finished the year in 39th place and won $24,202.
Now, he had earned a national title, has more than tripled his earnings and is headed to his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He will heel for Matt Sherwood who he has been roping with since the Reno Rodeo. They won a bunch of money at Canadian Rodeos and were one of 12 teams that qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). They were in fourth place.
In Red Deer, Alberta at the CFR, they won three of the six rounds, and claimed the overall and year-end titles. It’s Hunter’s first really big win and was meaningful as it came with Matt. They headed south across the border with plans to spend some time with their families. Then Hunter was making the trip to Arizona so he and Matt can practice for the NFR.
Hunter is the first of his family to rope competitively. He and his brother were interested, so his parents put up and arena and they started roping, teaching themselves what to do. When he was in high school, he would make the trek to Gary Jacobs house after school. Gary had racehorses and also roped.
Hunter improved his horsemanship by galloping those horses and learned more about roping from Gary. He continued to work at roping and that has paid off in a big way. He was in Las Vegas last year at the NFR as a spectator, thanks to the gift of a ticket from his grandmother. He snapped a picture of the Thomas and Mack, used it as a screensaver on his phone and set a goal. He’ll enter this year’s NFR in 12th place with $84,307 in regular season earnings.
With the accomplishment of that goal, the new Canadian title, an experienced partner and great horses and dedication, Hunter will be fun to watch in the Thomas and Mack Center. And now instead of gifting her grandson a rodeo ticket, his grandmother will be able to watch him compete on rodeo’s biggest stage.