An NFR First for Koch

Finally: Brown and Koch Nab First NFR Go-Round Win Together
Luke Brown and Hunter Koch's win in Round 5 marks Koch's first NFR round win.
Luke Brown heading a steer for Hunter Koch to win Round 5 of the 2023 NFR.
Luke Brown heading a steer for Hunter Koch to win Round 5 of the 2023 NFR. | Jamie Arviso Photo

Luke Brown‘s and Hunter Koch’s rocky start to the 2023 NFR all paid off on Dec. 12, as they picked up the Round 5 win with a 3.8, the first NFR round win of Koch’s career.

The 26-year-old has been paired up with 14-time NFR header Brown since 2021, and the anticipation for a round win together has long been building.

“It’s awesome,” Koch said. “To finally get it done and get to do it with Luke, it’s been a dream come true.”

Luke Brown and Hunter Koch taking their victory lap for winning Round 5 of the 2023 NFR.
Luke Brown and Hunter Koch taking their victory lap for winning Round 5 of the 2023 NFR. | Jamie Arviso Photo

Brown, who actually didn’t realize it was Koch’s first win in the Thomas & Mack, is confident the stage at the South Point will be jam-packed for tonight’s buckle ceremony.

“It’s going to be a fun night,” Brown said. “My daughter, she’s 9, and I am not so sure she doesn’t love Hunter more than me, so she’s going to be on stage and she’s going to be wound up. It’s going to be fun.”

Despite not having been at the Big Show since it was held in Fort Worth in 2020, let alone Las Vegas since 2019, Brown doesn’t see it as a hinderance.

“I just think that you can’t hardly practice for how realistic and fast it is, the start, and just getting in a groove,” Brown explained. “I’ve been here and been lucky and placed in the first round, and it’s just getting in a groove. You can’t practice this setup. I don’t know why it’s so different, but it is.”

Relaxed is key

Brown and Koch have been building to this run since the Finals started. They bounced back from a leg in Rounds 1 and 2, as well as a miss on the head side in Round 3, to finish second in Round 4 with a 3.9, and finally bag a round win Dec. 12 in Round 5. They finally had the draw they were hoping for and needing.

“I loved that steer,” Brown said. “I watched him whenever we roped them last Tuesday through the rope-through, and I watched Rogers run him. I thought he was probably a little better steer than we had last night but kind of the same pattern. He had the same horn, same size, so I was pretty confident when I seen him that I liked him a lot.”

On the backside, Koch made a horse change to Smart Little Cab, aka Casino, which helped him get in a better spot for an easier shot. While most may think aggressive is the key to winning, Koch felt relaxed in their winning run.

“I think it’s supposed to feel that way,” Koch said. “When you’re doing everything the way you’re supposed to, it is easy. So I enjoyed getting that feeling tonight.”

Brown and Koch have now jumped to No. 9 in the world with $162,726.85 won on the year. They’re fourth in average and have amassed $64,974.38 in NFR earnings.

2023 NFR Round 5 Team Roping Results:

TeamTimePayout per man
Rhen Richard / Jeremy Buhler4$21,296 
Coleman Proctor / Logan Medlin3.1 + 30
Dustin Egusquiza / Levi Lord4.1$12,877 
Nelson Wyatt / Jonathan Torres7+5
Derrick Begay / Colter Todd4.1+5
Kaleb Driggers / Junior Nogueira 4.1+5
Tyler Wade / Wesley Thorp4.8+5
Luke Brown / Hunter Koch3.8$30,706 
Jake Clay / Tyler Worley3.9+5$2,476 
Marcus Theriot / Cole Curry4.4+10
Clay Smith / Paden Bray3.9+5$2,476 
Clint Summers / Jake LongNT
Andrew Ward / Buddy Hawkins4.7$7,924 
Tanner Tomlinson / Patrick Smith4$21,296 
Erich Rogers / Paul Eaves4.1+5

— TRJ —

Nightly team roping coverage from the 2023 NFR is made possible with support from our sponsors at Resistol.

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