Their 48.5-second average on five steers pocketed them $7,494.38 each, and their finishes in the rounds brought them both $2,812.79. With roughly $10,307.17 added to their earnings, the No. 27 header and No. 25 heeler are sure to see a much-needed standings jump toward Top 15 territory.
“It was very awesome to win that much at one spot,” said 2021 NFR qualifier Rahlmann. “It kind of made up for what we hadn’t been doing anywhere else. And I’m hoping it’ll give us a fresh start and a boost up. Some money in the bank and some money in the standings. I’m hoping it’ll give us some momentum to move forward.”
That momentum is also something Torres, a 2022 NFR heeler, is pumped about.
“It feels great that we got that win,” Torres, 31, said. “It’s obviously a pretty good push. It kind of Band-Aids us a little bit for now, anyway. I think it could kind of start some momentum, and if we can keep that momentum going and can get a couple more good hits like that, I think we’ll be alright.”
The Big Week Traditions
Something that sets Salinas apart from the other major rodeos that make up much of July is the duration. Salinas gives their team ropers four opportunities to be in the money, which becomes five for the top 12 teams that make it to Sunday’s championship round. And five steers mean five chances for a check—six if you win the average.
“I’ve always thought if a guy was rodeoing, they needed to be there,” Torres said. “I mean, you can go to one rodeo and get five steers and possibly six checks. There are not very many rodeos in the year where you can possibly get that many checks.”
Rahlmann also points out that the duration levels out the playing field, given the long score and stronger steers.
“I like it a lot,” Rahlmann said. “I like it quite a bit because I think a place like that with how odd of a setup it is, I think it needs to be that many steers to even it out. You’re not going to draw five lopers; I don’t care who you are.”
The 35-foot score in Salinas is also a unique feature that can be intimidating for some. But for Rahlmann, he just breaks it down as simple as possible, with the help of “the cup.”
“They always set a cup out there about 10 feet inside of where the barrier is,” Rahlmann explained. “The cup is about 25 feet out there. So, usually, a good rule of thumb is, if they’re dang-sure loping, you want to see them all the way to the cup. And, if it looks like they’re moving on pretty good, you usually can see them coming to it, which means, by the time you think they’re there, you can be going. It’s kind of funny.”
No matter what, it’s key to trust your plan at the start.
“I think you have to watch what you want to see on the cup and stay true to it,” Rahlmann said. “Whether you want to see them coming to it or see them all the way to it—however you want to do it—you just have to stay true to it.”
The Big Week marathon began Thursday, July 20, with the slack. In the first round, Rahlmann and Torres were 7.3 seconds to win second on a good steer.
“The first one was really, really good,” Rahlmann said. “Which it always seems like, even if they’re not dead-fresh steers, they’re always really good. But the first round was the toughest because they don’t really know what’s going on, it seems like. It’s so different for them to not have somebody chasing them for the first 35 feet.”
In the second and third rounds, the team was out of the money, but they kept knocking their steers down clean.
“We had agreed on just going and catching our steers, taking it steer by steer and seeing where we fell,” Torres explained. “Through it, you just have to convince yourself it’s just a marathon, and just keep on knocking your steers down.”
Knowing they were in the driver’s seat of the average, Rahlmann and Torres kept that mindset through their fourth steer. They headed into the short round leading the average with a 39.4 on four head.
On championship Sunday, they had the steer Lane Lowry and Jake Bourdet won the second round on and Spencer Mitchell and Justin Davis won the third on.
“I knew that he was very, very good, so I didn’t really want to get myself too excited and do something I didn’t need to do,” Rahlmann said. “But I told Jonathan, “Man, I honestly think that we have a steer we can literally just make sure we catch and still win it all, depending on how fast Eric (Rogers) and Paul (Eaves) go. I think we have a steer we can win it on.’”
And Rahlmann was right. He and Torres won fourth in the final round with a 9.1-second run to put them first in the average with a 48.5 on five. Torres credits Rahlmann for solid handles all week that were vital in the large, wide-open arena.
“They’re crucial,” Torres explained. “Coy did a great job. Literally every time was the same thing. It was easy to read them coming in because I can only get up there so close, so fast. Then, reading it through the turn was easy for the horse and for me to just be able to catch fast.”
The Coveted Win
With July being such a crucial month in September’s Top 15 outcome, the win in Salinas is a breath of fresh air for the pair that hadn’t won a dime from Reno to Wolf Point, Montana.
“Anytime you can win that at one rodeo, it’s a very big sigh of relief,” Rahlmann said. “Obviously all of us out here, this is what we’re doing for a living. And so, it gives us money in the bank, it pays off some of our hard work and it gives us quite a bit of money in the standings.”
The prestige behind the California Rodeo Salinas and the fun and pay that comes with it also makes for a top win for Torres.
“Obviously, winning it’s great; it’s my favorite rodeo, so that’s fun,” Torres said. “It’s a good rodeo, pays great and a fun time. It was probably one of my better wins of my career.”
Rahlmann and Torres will continue to hit the road hard the rest of the year, averaging four or five rodeos a week.