Longtime friends and teammates Brit Ellerman and Marcus Banister ranked at the top of the average during the circuit finals held Oct. 22–23, 2021, in Loveland, Colorado.
Ellerman and Banister, both from Fort Lupton, Colorado, brought home $2,731 each with a time of 19.0 seconds on three head. The pair set out to rope clean through all three rounds of the jackpot, and their plan earned them a qualification to the 2022 Ram National Circuit Finals.
“We had a game plan to try to go in and catch all three and not make any mistakes,” Ellerman shared. “It ended up working out.”
Although they didn’t end up in the money on their first steer, the team’s consistent catches in all three rounds worked in their favor. In the second round, Ellerman credited Banister’s heeling technique for earning their time of 6.5 seconds and a fourth-place finish.
“The second steer ran to the left pretty good, so I had to break a little bit wider. I was a little too far behind him when I wanted to throw, so I just moved my horse over and took one more swing,” Ellerman admitted. “Marcus uses a smaller loop and comes tight really fast. So, there are a lot of times I can go another swing because he throws fast and comes tight quick.”
In the third round, the team’s steer ran straight out of the gate, making it easy for them to finish the rodeo with a solid 5.9-second run that secured their overall ranking.
Ellerman’s experience roping in the Loveland arena came in handy as the team executed their plan and, according to Banister, he leaned on his partner’s knowledge and focused on finishing well.
“We made the kind of runs we’ve been trying to make,” Banister shared. “Nothing fancy, but it was good. I’m grateful it worked out.”
Ellerman borrowed his mount from his dad, five-time NFR qualifier Jay Ellerman, who was judging the American Rope Horse Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas, during the circuit finals in Loveland. Jay purchased the horse, called Brooks, from a family friend with the intention of riding him at a few rodeos.
“That horse came from a really good friend of our family. He used to send the horse to us to tune him up, so I have ridden him some in the past,” Ellerman explained. “My dad hasn’t rodeoed a lot lately, but he went to a couple rodeos after we bought Brooks and did pretty well on him. When [my dad] found out the [American Rope Horse] Futurity was the same weekend as the roping finals, he quit going. When he quit, I said I was going to ride his horse.”
The match proved profitable in Loveland, and Ellerman plans to keep riding Brooks in the future.
“He’s super easy, very honest, and scores good,” Ellerman praised.
Putting the Team in Team Roping
“Marcus is one of my best friends,” Ellerman shared.
“Roping is awesome, but the people and the community that you’re around is the thing that you remember,” Banister agreed. “The wins are fun, but there are a lot of losses that come, too. Getting to rodeo with people that love and care about you—you can’t beat that.”
Ellerman first proposed a partnership with Banister when they were sophomores in high school. At their first high school rodeo together, the pair won both rounds and topped the average. From then on, they have seen repeated success, despite a few years apart while attending separate colleges and starting their careers.
“This last year, Marcus has gotten back to roping, so we decided to go again,” Ellerman explained. “He has a really good job and I have a business, but it worked out this year where we could still rope together every day.”
Both men expressed their gratitude for the partnership, and their success in the pen proves it’s a well-made match.
“[Brit] needed a partner this year, and he asked me if I’d rope with him,” Banister shared. “I was really grateful he asked. He’s a great person and a good guy to be around. Roping with him is just a bonus.”
With the circuit finals behind them, Ellerman and Banister have their sights set on the Ram National Circuit Finals, which is set to be held July 13–16, 2022, during the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“It’ll be good to have it closer to home,” Ellerman said of having the rodeo in his home state instead of Florida. “My plan is to just stay in my game and rope the steers I draw. You don’t have to stick your tongue out every time, just make sure that you’re roping safe.”
Although Banister hasn’t qualified for the National Circuit Finals before, he’s excited for the opportunity to compete with his seasoned partner.
“We’ve roped at some pretty cool rodeos before, but this will be one of the bigger stages,” Banister admitted. “You just can’t get out of your game plan. We have some time between now and then to work at it, then we’ll just rope our game. I’m excited to see what happens.”
1. Marshall Samples and Jesse Echtler, 5.7-second run, worth $1,821 a man
2. Clayton Van Aken and Cullen Teller, 5.8-second run, worth $1,365 a man
3. Garrett Tonozzi and T.J. Watts, 6.1-second run, worth $910 a man
4. J.B. James Jr. and Brock Hanson, 6.3-second run, worth $455 a man.
1. Pedro Egurrola and JC Flake, 5.5-second run, worth $1,821 a man
2. Garrett Tonozzi and T.J. Watts, 6.0-second run, worth $1,365 a man
3. Eric Martin and Ryon Tittel, 6.2-second run, worth $910 a man
4. Brit Ellerman and Marcus Banister, 6.5-second run, worth $455 a man.
1. Zane Murphy and Trevor Schnaufer, 5.3-second run, worth $1,821 a man
2. Jase Staudt and Riley Pedro, 5.4-second run, worth $1,365 a man
3. Marshall Samples and Jesse Echtler, 5.8-second run, worth $910 a man
4. Brit Ellerman and Marcus Banister, 5.9-second run, worth $455 a man.
1. Brit Ellerman and Marcus Banister, 19.0 seconds on three head, $2,731 a man
2. Corey Whinnery and Cole Cooper, 21.6 seconds on three head, worth $2,048 a man
3. Eric Martin and Ryon Tittel, 23.5 seconds on three head, worth $1,365 a man
4. Marshall Samples and Jesse Echtler, 11.5 seconds on two head, worth $683 a man.