Pace Freed and Dustin Searcy battled 40-plus mile per hour winds to jump to an early lead with a 4.9-second run at the Woodward (Oklahoma) Elks Rodeo—a northwestern Oklahoma rodeo that saw skyrocketing entries as one of the few rodeos to survive the COVID-19 crisis so far in 2020. 

"I grew up here, and it was probably the windiest I've ever roped in in my life," Searcy said. "It was blowing 40 miles per hour at the beginning of the day, and it kept picking up as the day went on." 

"To me, it doesn't matter if it was windy or raining or not," Freed added. "We're just all excited to get to go to rodeos. Having an opportunity is just good. You have to talk yourself into doing whatever it takes. It's pretty important to all of us, and I feel like we took it for granted. To be able to go there is the most important thing. I was just excited to have an opportunity to go to a rodeo."

Freed and Searcy, who plan to take their rodeo schedule week-by-week this year, leaned on Searcy's Oklahoma rodeo experience to stop the clock fast

Pace Freed Dustin Searcy

Freed and Searcy's 4.9-second run in Woodward.

Freed and Searcy, who plan to take their rodeo schedule week-by-week this year, leaned on Searcy's Oklahoma rodeo experience to stop the clock fast in the 18-foot box with a 17-and-a-half-foot score.  

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"I've entered this rodeo enough time, and I know if you get a haze on the cow, they're usually better," Searcy, of Mooreland, Oklahoma, said. "The grandstand is on the West side and the wind was blowing out of the West, so I knew if I could get him taking a few steps left toward the grandstand we'd have a better chance even though we'd be into the wall. We drew a really good steer. They were trippers that kept getting up at the trippings, so they black-listed them and brought them to us. And they ended up being really good."

"He stepped the steer to the left and he heeled him really fast," Freed said. "It really didn't feel very different. We just drew a really good steer and I didn't have to reach or anything."

Searcy was aboard Rio, his great bay gelding that Wesley Thorp rode at the 2018 NFR. 

"Rio did awesome," Searcy said. "He hadn't had much practice and he's a little fat and out of shape, but he did perfect for me." 

Freed rode his gelding Fuel, who's in his 10th year under Freed in ProRodeo competition. 

Searcy has spent his quarantine working on his new place in Stephenville, riding outside horses and working on three colts he and his girlfriend bought before the shut down, while Freed has been busy operating X-Factor Roping, the popular site loaded with roping competition and instructional videos. 

"I've had a ton of opportunity for video shoots, and that's been a great opportunity for content, and I've been getting to do a lot more with the podcast," Freed said. "We did a couple livestreams, so that's been huge."TRJ

Woodward Results So Far: 

1. Pace Freed/Dustin Searcy, 4.9 seconds 

2. Adam Rose/J.W. Beck, 6.3 

3. Ryon Boatright/Tyrel Taton, 9.3

4. Ben Johnsrud/Kingston Chang, 9.5

5. A.J. Horton/Kyle Horton, 11.3

6. (tie) Trevor Howard/Cody Heflin and Lightning Aguilera/Michael Fortenberry, 15.1 each.

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