Octavio Espinoza (44), of Lubbock, Texas, and 2017 Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale champ Erick Alvarado (29), of Midland, Texas, stopped the clock at the AT&T Stadium in 8.10 seconds to win the Ariat World Series of Team Roping's American Cowboy #10.5, earning them $56,000.
Alvarado is no stranger to big money through the Ariat World Series of Team Roping, as he won $362,000 just two years ago with Will Jones in the association's #10 Yeti WSTR Finale in Las Vegas.
“It’s a crazy feeling,” Alvarado said. “I guess I’ve been in a similar situation, but this place just outgrows it so much. The amount isn’t the same but just the atmosphere that we’re getting to rope in is crazy. Honestly, I took a big downfall after Vegas. I maybe won $7 grand. I finally teamed up with him in Vegas and we got to qualify. We’ve roped really good ever since then. It’s life changing, especially after the last two years I’ve had.”
Espinoza and Alvarado were the third team out of eight to rope and made a businessman's run to complete the course and put the pressure on the last five teams.
“It’s a lot of relief,” Espinoza, who owns his own concrete company, said. “I’ve never won a check that big. I’m just excited to win it for the family, of course.”
Espinoza and Alvarado's steer was sitting back in the chute, making it difficult for them to get a good start. But once Espinoza nodded his head it was game on.
“The steer wouldn’t push up,” Alvarado, who works in the West Texas oilfields, said. “He was like a foot-and-a-half off the gate. He kept trying to push him up. Every time he would push him up my horse would dart out of there and I’d have to hold him back. When he did break, he broke to the right and I was late because I was pulling him back. Other than that, it was pretty smooth.”
Their American Cowboy journey got started at a qualifier event in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was Alvarado's second qualification spot. Alvarado received a call from WSTR's John English saying that he needed to pick which partner he was going to rope with.
“I actually got qualified in Hamilton (Texas) at the beginning of the year,” Alvarado said. “We went to Vegas and I asked him (Espinoza) if he wanted to rope and we did. We placed very low. That evening, John English called and said, ‘You have two qualifications. What do you want to do?’ I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know. What do I have to do?’ and he’s like, ‘Well, you’re going to have to rope against yourself.’ Then about five minutes later I get a called from him again and he said, ‘Erick, I’m sorry but you can only rope once. Choose your header.’ Lex Urias is a very good friend of mine. He was actually the first person that I got qualified with, so I called him first. I felt that was better that he got the call first. He was at a show somewhere so he didn’t answer and right away, he (Espinoza) answered.”
Espinoza rode a 8-year old blazed-faced sorrel gelding he calls Squirrel, who ran straight to the hip of the paint steer to give Espinoza a winning head shot. Alvarado rode his Appaloosa gelding, Stud Muffin, the same horse on which he won the 2017 Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale's YETI #10.
“He’s been great ever since I got him,” Alvarado said. “I got him as a yearling. He was given to me and came from Mexico from my uncle. I actually didn’t want that horse because he was an App. My dad started breaking him as a 3-year-old. I went to a roping a waved it off like five in a row—I used to head. After that roping I said I’m going to try heeling and heel on that horse and he’s been good to me since.” TRJ