We are nearing the half way point of the 6 week period I have been writing about. We went to the USTRC in Bryan, Tx. last Friday. It was the last chance I had to get a 2nd partner into The American Semi-Finals in Mesquite. I did not get qualified with either of my partners so I just have Cale Markham there. Friday night we went to the rodeo in San Angelo, Tx.(2 full rounds and a short) This year it is a real fast setup. We didn't catch either of our steers there. Sunday we ran 2 steers in San Antonio, and our 3rd on monday. Everybody is guaranteed 3 steers, and the top 4 money winners from each set progress to one of two semi-final sets. The top 5 teams (on total money won) from each Semi-final set progress to the Finals. Last year was the first time I was eligible to enter San Antonio and Drew and I won the rodeo. (we won over $16k) It is an incredible rodeo. They take really good care of us there. There is more added money than any other PRCA rodeo outside than the NFR. They have an outstanding staff to serve us throughout our stay. I missed my first steer Sunday afternoon. Our steer was really fresh acting and didn't seem to know where he was going. In my industry you go a lot of places where you have to throw fast regardless of how good or bad your steer is. At San Antonio they pay 4 places in each round so it is crucial that you get a time. It is like a short go every time. I didn't take a bad throw, I just missed! The top 4 advance to the semi-finals on money won, so we still had a chance to advance if we do well on our other 2. For me personally a miss is often really hard to swallow. Doubts creep in my head. I feel like consistent catches produce more catches and consistent mistakes produce more mistakes. I spent all afternoon collecting myself for the evening perf. We drew a steer that went left quite a bit. Drew got it on him good and I heeled him. San Antonio is like many of the winter rodeos and there is not a lot of room to the left. We had some trouble finishing and ended up being 6.5 and placed 4th. With a catch under my belt it was much easier to focus monday. We knew that if we won 1st we would for sure progress to the semi-finals. A 2nd place check gave us a chance to progress also, but anything less than 2nd and we wouldn't progress. We where 3rd out and there was already a 4.6 winning the 1st. Drew got it on him right there to be around 5 flat. I heeled him good but we got caught up finishing again and ended up being 6.2 and winning another 4th. Although we didn't progress we won nearly $1000 so it was a good rodeo for us. I headed back to the practice pen. Friday the 21st the top 50 teams from the 5 American Qualifiers competed in Mesquite, Tx. Everybody roped 2 steers and the top 20 on 2 progressed to the performances. Cale Markham and I where 13 on 2 and made it back. The top 20 are a "Clean-Slate", meaning the times from the first 2 rounds do not carry over. The 5 fastest times progress to "The American". Undoubtedly the steer I run Sunday is a very import and steer. The fastest time of the top 20 pays nearly $12k a man not to mention that you would be qualified for the biggest 1 day rodeo in the history of the sport. I was inside the top 10 on the heel side of the PRCA standings right up until the last weekend of the regular season last year.(The top 10 received an exemption and did not have to attend qualifiers to get into "The American") I didn't rope well at the NFR and finished outside of the top 10. Now I have an opportunity to qualify the "hard way", lol. I'm headed to the practice pen. Updates to follow.
God Bless, RopeBetter,
Buddy Hawkins II