Late-Season Successes Lead to Resistol Jr. Year-End Titles for Ashton Hughes and Kale Roark
From their mid-season entries into the Top 10 USTRC Resistol Jr. Championship standings to the winner’s circle, Florida’s Ashton Hughes and Oklahoma’s Kale Roark did the work to make up for their lost time.
Ashton Hughes heading at at the 2024 NFTR.
Ashton Hughes peels one off to win $26K at the 2024 NFTR. | Andersen/CBarC Photography

It wasn’t until the December issue of The Team Roping Journal that Oxford, Florida, header Ashton Hughes or Guymon, Oklahoma, heeler Kale Roark appeared for the first time in the Top 10 standing for the year-end title. Seven months later, they carved their names in the annals of Resistol Jr. history as champions.

2024 Resistol Junior Champion Header: Ashton Hughes – 174 Points

Hughes, who will be 17 this month, first entered the Resistol Jr. Top 10 in the No. 6 position with 33 points in the calendar month of October. His season began in early September with an out-the-gate, second-place win in the Tennessee Special #11.5 for 9 points. The next month, he pulled off an impressive hat trick when he won third in the #11.5, #10.5 and #8.5 for 8 points each at the Southern Alabama Championship, earning him his Top 10 entry.

Hughes’ standings held through November, but in December 2023, he nearly doubled his points to jump him into the No. 2 seat with 64 points. The catapult came from a 15-point gain for third and fourth in the South Georgia Super Qualifier #12.5 for 15 points. Then he took fourth in the #9.5 and second in the #7 for an additional 16 points.

By the time Hughes hit February, it was game on. In fact, he and his cousin, Hayden Hughes, set a goal for either of them to win the year-end championship. Hughes won 27 points at the Muddy River Classic by winning the #12.5 and taking third, plus winning second in the #8.5. When he went to the North Florida Championship, he snagged another win in the #14.5 and took fourth place in the $10.5 and #9.5, giving him 115 points total and the No. 1 spot in the standings. Hayden, at the time, ranked No. 5 with 52 points.

“We told each other we weren’t going to be mad if one of us won it,” Hughes explained. “We were just hoping one of us would win versus anyone else. He youth rodeos, too, and he skipped it just so we could go to these US ropings so we could keep up with each other.”

Hughes, 16, arrived in Fort Worth for the Cinch USTRC NFTR at the top of the standings with 156 points. He sealed the deal on April 21 on his year-long efforts with a reserve championship in the #9.5 Lawleys Shootout. With points at the NFTR worth double, the 32.41 on four with Raphael Sampaio meant an 18-point gain for Oxford, Florida’s Hughes—not to mention a $26,000 paycheck.

Hayden finished the season No. 2 with 124 points. Not only did the boys make sure one of them became the Resistol Jr. Champion Header, but they bolstered each other to the top to claim a shared victory. 

2024 Resistol Junior Champion Heeler: Kale Roark – 117 Points

Kale Roark heeling in the 2024 NFTR #10.5.
Kale Roark sets his trap in the 2024 NFTR #10.5. Andersen/CBarcC Photography

Roark, 16, entered the race at No. 5 with 42 points. It was a 17-point gain he made at September’s Oklahoma Classic that gave his original points cache—7 points from the May Oklahoma Classic and 18 points at the July Guthrie Championships—the boost into the Top 5. He earned another 9 points at the Panhandle Classic to boost his total points to 51 and the No. 2 spot in the heeling standings. 

Roark seized his championship victory in the USTRC Resistol Jr. race with 117 points won in the 2023-2024 season. Ahead of the NFTR, the 35 points he gained in March gave him the 9-point lead he needed to best long-time leader and former Resistol Jr. Champion Houston Childers.

For their year-long efforts, Hughes and Roark win $1,000 cash bonuses, 40X Arena Resistol Felts, 20X Wildfire USTRC Resistol Straws, Gist trophy buckles and Resistol Jr. Champion bragging rights.

Current USTRC or Key Card/Key Card Max membership is required to participate in the Resistol Junior Champion Program. Earned points begin counting at time of membership purchase thru the NFTR’s last shootout event. The season begins the Monday after the last USTRC NFTR event and ends the last day of the next USTRC NFTR event.

Ropers must enter at least one Shootout division in the USTRC NFTR to be eligible. The award will be announced at the end of the USTRC National Finals of Team Roping event.


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