The always-grueling Cinch Timed Event Championship is far from over, with 10 head left going into the Ironman’s final day of competition. But as of the fall of the last flag March 11, the Navajo Nation’s World Champion Header Erich Rogers has the lead on 15 head.
Rogers’ 15-head aggregate time is 182.0 seconds, just 8.4 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor Clayton Hass.
“I get nervous every time,” Rogers, 35, from Round Rock, Arizona, said. “It gets nerve-racking, but to compete here with the best guys is an awesome feeling. These guys are so competitive, but the camaraderie we have is pretty sweet. You don’t see it like this every day, at baseball, basketball or football like this. And this event here is one of the premier ones. I enjoy coming here, and the fan base here is outstanding.”
Past champs Paul David Tierney, 32, and Taylor Santos, 27, both once again proved that they know how to win in the CTEC setup, splitting the Round 3 win to keep both in the running for the $100,000 championship check. Santos is 213.3 on 15, while Tierney is 230.5 heading into the last day.
“It’s so much momentum here to me,” Santos said. “We had a steer in the team roping that was supposed to get heavy and drag, so I told Trey to get around there and do whatever he does. He’s rank, he’s got an NFR average buckle. Andrew Ward’s heading for me, and he has an NFR average buckle. Trey heeled that steer and we were as fast as we’ve been in the heading, and then I was as fast as I’ve been in the calf roping. And then Andrew’s like, ‘Hey let’s stop just trying to catch heeling. Ride in there and heel that steer like practicing at (Cody) Snow’s.’ I felt like I got down there and got a little more aggressive, and it spirals into good momentum.”
Santos has the help of Ote Berry in the bull dogging, too, with a team of horses owned by Jack and Jake Kahla that he’s got all the confidence in the world in.
“I know for myself, I want to prove I can do it again,” Santos continued. “I think if I stay healthy enough, I’ll come here for a long time. I’d like to win it as many times as I can. There’s 19 guys here that are so good at all the disciplines. You’re not competing against them per se, you’ve got to run 25 head so really you’re just competing against the 25 head they draw you, and if you do a good enough job it’s just whoever makes the least mistakes.”
Tierney took more than twice as long in Round 2 versus Round 3, so he was just thrilled to make five aggressive runs.
“I rode for the brand, and I’m just glad I got there and when I did I set it down and dubbed him,” Tierney laughed. “And in the heading, that steer tonight was supposed to really run, so I’m glad I had my brown horse and knocked him down. I had a good calf in the calf roping, and I wanted to jerk him down but didn’t get that done. I had a good bull dogging steer, and just caught him and threw him down. The heeling, that steer wanted to circle. He comes out and comes straight left. I knew if we could get there we could be fast because he don’t run away from you. It’s getting over there to him.” TRJ