Clay Acuna and Tracy Wiest won the #9 Heartland Finale in Hamilton, Texas with a time of 38.62 seconds on four head, worth $26,000.
Acuna was roping with a brand new horse, and his main concern going into that weekend was how his horse was going to do.
“He is just 4-years-old and I haven’t roped on him outside of the practice pen,” Acuna said. “I just wanted to make smooth runs off of him and ease him into it.”
There was a lot on the line for Acuna, a chance to give back. When he first moved to Midland, Texas for work five years ago, he didn’t know anyone and didn’t have anywhere to live. Their mutual friend and fellow team roper Sterling Kelly told Clay, 'You need to meet Tracy Wiest, he will help you out.'
Wiest welcomed Acuna into his home with open arms and invited him to move into his place. Acuna brought his camper and moved in and stayed for over two years, and they became great friends, practiced a lot together, and created chemistry as a team.
“We showed up at Hamilton, mentally focused and came up with a game plan,” Wiest said. “We weren’t going to try to be the fastest, just steady and consistent, and that’s exactly what we did. I knew what to expect from Clay, and there was just a confidence there that we were going to do it.”
This was his opportunity for Acuna to repay the man who helped him out when he was just starting his career.
“We are standing good, all we have to do is get this fourth one down and we are fixing to take home the money this go round,” Acuna said to Weist.
They roped their short round steer in 9.42 seconds, and all they had to do was wait. As soon as they saw the high team miss, they both hugged.
“There are people you want to win with in your life, someone that means so much to you,” Acuna said. “That was the next best thing to winning a roping with my Dad, Tracy has held that spot in my heart for a long time, so it was even better than winning with a friend. Our wives and families met us after, and it felt like a true family affair.”
While Wiest plans to keep practicing, roping more, and making this more than a hobby, he will be roping in Vegas for the first time.
“We have been to Vegas a lot but I have never had the chance to rope there, work has kept me away,” Wiest said. “But now it’s my time, and I plan on taking this very serious.”
Meanwhile, Acuna has a few other plans and responsibilities.
“Our baby boy is due August 11, so that money went straight to the baby fund!,” Acuna said.