Andrews, Texas' Marcos Bustamante earned $8,417.50 between the Wiley Hicks Jr. Memorial Roping (March 17-18) and the ADVO Companies Roping (September 21-23), which made him the highest money earner between both ropings, resulting in the first-ever Top of Texas Two trailer win.
“I know I was chasing (Amarillo-based header and ADVO Roping founder) Todd Hughes by a couple of dollars,” Bustamante said. “We were just back and forth at that ADVO Roping. I was looking at it and I knew I had him beat but I wasn’t sure if anybody else was really close. I was really worried about him because he was right on my heels—back and forth between both ropings.”
“Neck and neck, he beat me by $405,” Todd Hughes added. “A guy got turned out twice in the #12 and Marcos came from 20th to 6th. This was the first year to have the trailer. He (Wiley Hicks Jr. Memorial Roping organizer James Hicks) changed his fees from $500 to $250 a man, and we thought if we gave one trailer to the high money winner, which you had to go to both ropings to qualify. We thought that it would help his and sure enough not hurt mine any.”
Bustamante won second in both the #11 Super Qualifier with Perry McCance and the #13 Super Qualifier with Kenny Beaty at the Wiley Hicks Jr. Memorial this spring.
“I had pretty good luck,” Bustamante said. “I placed second in two ropings, and I thought going to that ADVO Roping I just need to place a couple of times to have a really good chance at winning it. Up there at the Wiley Hicks he (Todd Hughes) was sitting first I believe in one roping and ended up beating me, or something like that. I joked, ‘Oh you got the saddle over there, but I got the trailer over here.’”
With the pressure on at the ADVO Roping, Marcos and partner Abe Neufeld broke into the top 20 in the #12 World Series qualifier. They made a good run in the short round with other teams slowly falling apart to end up sixth in the average with a time of 35.16 seconds on four head, worth $1,890. Bustamante also roped with his brother Joe Bustamante in the #11. They placed eighth with a time of 37.06 seconds on four head, worth $1,515.
“Joe is my brother, so we rope together all the time," Bustamante said. "Abe ropes really good. I’ve watched him rope for a while so we paired up over there. I think he roped a leg on our very first steer, and we managed to barely make the short go. We were 20th call back and made a good run. We were about 8-seconds. We kind of had the cards fall and ended up placing sixth.”
Both the ADVO and Wiley Hicks Jr. Memorial Ropings are about far more than big payouts and prize lines, though. The Wiley Hicks Jr. Memorial benefits Texas Panhandle children's charities each year and has raised tens of thousands in memory of James Hicks' late father. For the Hughes family, the ADVO Roping is a continuation of what they do year-round through their ADVO Companies.
Before the ADVO Roping begins, Todd and Carla Hughes host a fundraiser Gala where ropers and supporters gather and make bids and donate money to the Hope to Opportunity Foundation. The Hope to Opportunity Foundation, part of ADVO, operates vocational training center and residential home for people with intellectual disabilities.
“We have a gala on Friday night which is a big fundraiser,” Hughes said. “It’s just to make people aware of what my wife Carla does. That job placement center and that park is going to cost $7 or $8-million. I invited a certain few team ropers and they’re always big supporters of what she does.”
The roping and Gala don’t just happen over night. Todd and many others work diligently to make sure that the ground is set up for the World Series roping.
“It takes me and my compadre, Jeff Veazey, quite a bit of work to get everything ready,” Hughes said. “We have to go in and prep the ground because they don’t take as good of care of it. I want the ground to be in great shape. We dig the boxes out and put all new sand. Then Carla’s foundation bought 90 stalls and we get those all cleaned out and locked. We get help from the Randall County imamates to get the place all cleaned and then they help us clean it all up when we’re done. Everything’s spotless when we have the roping and everything’s spotless when we’re done. Range Riders donates the facility to Carla.
If you know Hughes, you know that his love for the sport of team roping doesn't amount to the love of his family.
“Its more family oriented out there," Hughes said. "They have the dummy roping and Carla’s clients are out there during the roping helping pick up trash and sell a bunch of raffle tickets for a Coats saddle. Nick Griggs daughter won it. Carla runs the concessions stand with a group of her volunteers and it’s very successful. They get good food and those guys support her really good. The concession stand probably made $12,000. Everything that we raise from the roping, the Gala, and the concession stand, and the 50/50 and the saddle all go to Hope to Opportunity Foundation. Every penny, we don’t hold out a dime.”