Cole Thomas is the undisputed 2023 heading Resistol Rookie of the Year, racking up $59,480 in earnings to easily secure the coveted title.
Hailing from Meadville, Mississippi, Thomas’ year started off with a 2022 Southeastern Circuit Average Championship with Bryce Graves on the heels and continued his momentum with the Resistol Rookie Roundup Championship with heeling Resistol Rookie of the Year Kaden Profili.
Over the Fourth of July Thomas and partner Clay Green won the St. Paul Rodeo in Oregon, pocketing $4,129. Thomas’ roll continued throughout the remainder of the season—leading the field by $14,206 in August and finishing the year $15,658 ahead of No. 2 Cutter Machado.
The Team Roping Journal caught up with Thomas as he prepared to head out to the 2023 Southeastern Circuit Finals.
TRJ: What does winning Resistol Rookie of the Year mean to you?
CT: You only get to do it once, and it’s an amazing start. It gives you some credibility when you’re talking to people, trying to get some help. People look at you a little different because they know you’re ready to go and you want it. You’re not going to go to 20 rodeos and quit.
Which wins were the biggest for you this year?
All of them. I mean, each one is that little push you need to keep climbing and saying ‘OK, we’re doing something right.’ At the start of the summer Clay and I did good at St. Paul and that’s what pushed us to keep going. We hit a good lick there and it opened my eyes and made me think, ‘We can make this work.’
What horses did you ride this year?
I mainly rode Chino, the bay gelding. I rode the one I call Festus a little.
What did you take away from being on the road all year?
I’ve been to a lot of places now, and I think that’s the main thing—I’m going to know what it’s going to be like when we get there this year. I’ve seen it once and I know things vary but not I’ve got an idea and I’m not walking in blind.
You changed partners midsummer; can you tell us about that?
Yeah, I changed partners in the middle of the summer at Caldwell Idaho. I was with Clay Green, and now I’m with Lane Mitchell. I am super excited, Lane’s done it for a little while and has got a good mind for rodeo. He wants it and has got good horses. It’s fun to rope with him, and it’s easier when you have two people with the same mindset.
What are you focusing on next year?
I want to make the NFR. I’ve got the [Southeastern] Circuit Finals this week and we’ll see how it goes.
About the Resistol Rookie of the Year Award
Thomas will be honored alongside his fellow Resistol Rookies of the Year at the South Point Hotel & Casino Dec. 12, 2023, during the ninth annual luncheon. There, the Rookies will receive trophy saddles and personalized Resistol hats, among other prizes.
Resistol has supported the Rookie of the Year award since its inception. The Rookie of the Year title was first awarded in the PRCA in 1977 to Brian Murphy.