Dustin Egusquiza and Kory Koontz tied for the first-round win, split sixth in the second round and won the aggregate at the Sandhills Stock Show an Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, worth $5,046 a man toward the 2019 PRCA world standings.
The win was a breath of fresh air for the duo who struggled at the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. They entered the Finals third in the PRCA world standings, but left with only $39,121.79 each in NFR earnings and finished the year eighth and ninth in the world.
"It feels good to know we can still win, that the NFR wasn't the end of the world," Egusquiza said. "It seems like, on the really short barriers, everybody thinks I'm supposed to do good. But I feel more comfortable when it's a foot under. I'm comfortable roping two coils back, when the steer gets away from me. All these winter rodeos really fit me. I need to work on the long set ups and the really short setups, where I'm on top of the steer. Chicago this weekend was just like the NFR, we were 4.1, and I missed the barrier bad. I feel like I need to work on those two things."
"We had a game plan, we prepared, but we didn't prepare right," Koontz added. "We prepared different than the year before and he had heck and I had heck. So I felt pretty fortunate to get out of there with what we did. He was really bummed. He was disappointed for me because he felt like he was letting me down. But I've gone to that rodeo and not won a dime and I'm still alive. It didn't kill us. It was good for us in the long run. It lets you know you're not immortal and you've got to keep working at it. Not doing good at the NFR is only a big deal if you make it a big deal. If you feel like it's a devastating thing, it will be. It doesn't define who we are as a team."
Back into their element, Egusquiza and Koontz's 3.9-second run in Round 1 tied that of Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison for the round win.
"The first steer, I didn't know what he did but he turned out to be really good," Egusquiza said. "I got a good start and he handled good and we made our run."
Their 4.6-second run in Round 2 tied Tate Kirchenschlager and BJ Dugger and Matt Sherwood and Tyler Worley.
"He was funkier handling and challenged us a little bit," Egusquiza said. "I was just glad to have him caught."
Both Egusquiza and Koontz made a horse change from Las Vegas, too, helping with their comfort zone in Odessa.
"Colby Lovell rode Buddha at the Finals with Russell Cardoza in 2012," Egusquiza said about the gelding who he thinks is between 17 and 20 years old. "He sold him to Cole Wheeler and he won the college finals on him twice. I got him from the Torres family. I traded some cows for him actually. He's my girlfriend's head horse now really. I might ride him some this winter. He's slowly getting crippled, so I'm careful with him. I don't really know why I rode him. The big horse I started the Finals on is sore right now, and my other horse didn't feel good at the circuit finals. I knew Buddha wouldn't get in my way, so I drug him out."
As for Koontz, he opted for a 16-year-old yellow gelding named Nanner that he's had for a little over a year now.
"I got him from a good friend of mine named Cody Wilson from New Mexico," Koontz said. "I helped Cody with his roping some several years ago and wanted to buy him. Cody decided he needed something else. I helped find him a different horse that fit him better. So I had him ready for the NFR, I just didn't ride him. After the NFR, I feel like Remix is definitely better suited for bigger, outdoor arenas. So I thought I'd give him a little break through the winter. I might ride him at some bigger setups like Houston with more room and just ride Nanner at the smaller indoor deals where he's better suited."
Koontz and Egusquiza left the day after Odessa for the World Champions Rodeo Alliance event in Chicago, where they won fifth with a 4.1-second run worth $6,499.99 a man.
"It was dang sure good to get a little money," Koontz said. "We didn't make the greatest run at Chicago and won $6,500. And with the $5,000 at Odessa, that's a pretty good week really." TRJ
Full team roping results from Odessa:
First round: 1. (tie) Chad Masters/Joseph Harrison and Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 3.9 seconds, $1,778 each; 3. Ty Blasingame/Nano Garza, 4.1, $1,406; 4. (tie) Chace Thompson/Tyson Thompson, Rhett Anderson/Trace Porter and Tyler Wade/Billie Jack Saebens, 4.3, $910 each; 7. (tie) Marcus Theriot/Coleby Payne, Garett Chick/Ross Ashford, Manny Egusquiza Jr./Dustin Searcy and Jace Bland/Kirt Jones, 4.5, $145 each. Second round: 1. (tie) Kaleb Driggers/Junior Nogueira and Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 4.1 seconds, $1,778 each; 3. (tie) Andrew Ward/Reagan Ward and Jake Cooper/Caleb Anderson, 4.3, $1,282 each; 5. Marcus Theriot/Coleby Payne, 4.5, $910; 6. (tie) Tate Kirchenschlager/B.J. Dugger, Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz and Matt Sherwood/Tyler Worley, 4.6, $414 each. Average: 1. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 8.5 seconds on two head, $2,854 each; 2. (tie) Marcus Theriot/Coleby Payne, Chace Thompson/Tyson Thompson and Jake Cooper/Caleb Anderson, 9.0, $2,109 each; 5. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 9.1, $1,365; 6. Garett Chick/Ross Ashford, 9.2, $993; 7. Tate Kirchenschlager/B.J. Dugger, 9.6, $620; 8. Casey Tew/Boogie Ray, 9.7, $248.