lead

Brant Cookston Enters 2024 WCJR with 1.5K Point Lead
Brant Cookston leads the WCRA DY Junior Heeling standings by 1,564 points ahead of the July WCJR.
Conley Kleinhans  and Brant Cookston won the 2024 WCRA CEAT DY Showcase at Rodeo Corpus Christi. | Courtesy WCRA by Bull Stock Media.

Brant Cookston has a leg up on the competition at the 2024 WCJR, going in No. 1 in the WCRA Division Youth heeling standings with a 1,564-point lead over his competition.

Cookston, 16, has accumulated 5168.75 points in the Junior heeling, giving the Trinidad, Texas, roper some cushion for his trip to the WCJR, held July 23-27, at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie.

“It means a lot because I have a good jump on everybody else, and I won’t have to go out there and do anything crazy fast,” Cookston said. “As long as my horses stay good and I make the right decisions roping and stuff, I should be pretty good. Just keeping everything smooth and keeping times on the board.”

The reigning Yeti Junior World Finals Open champion made his first trip to the WCJR in 2023, where he finished third with Youth heading leader Bronc Evans. Cookston gets the majority of his points by nominating all of his Texas High School rodeos, but he’s also a fan of the WCRA DY Showcases. 

“At the Showcases, there’s only about eight teams,” explained the 2024 Rodeo Corpus Christi DY Showcase champ. “You get to rope at the big rodeos with all the bigger guys, and it’s a great experience to be able to go and rope around them. And for how many teams there are, they put a lot of good money into it.”

Cookston knows a good thing when he sees one and is roping with a partner he knows he meshes with: Conley Kleinhans. Kleinhans and Cookston first met at a Yeti Junior World Finals qualifier in 2023, and together they’ve won the 2023 Junior World Finals Open and 2024 Corpus showcase.

“I like roping with Conley because he really scores,” Cookston said. “He handles the steers and, when we rope in a smaller arena, he can really get out and get the steers on a short rope and keep them picked up and not really ever get any slack in his rope. At Guthrie that pen is big, though.”

With a good partner lined out, Cookston is also putting in the work in the practice pen. 

“I’ll ride them for 30 to 40 minutes before I even run a steer,” said Cookston, who has started a business breaking colts and training horses. “Then just heel maybe four or five [steers], going two or three good swings over their backs, letting [the horses] stop and not dally; I’ll maybe dally on one. But, other than that, just not really putting a whole lot of pressure on [the horses] and spending more time with them than just running steers.”

While he hasn’t decided which horse he’ll ride in Guthrie, he wants to keep all of his horses solid, as that’s key in Guthrie. 

“I’m just going to try to keep my horses as solid as I can,” Cookston said. “I want to make good practice runs—I’m not really going to practice going fast. I’ll heel a couple fast in the practice pen, but the main thing being out there all week is keeping my horses ready to go before that so they can handle all that really well.”

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