Everything happens pretty quickly inside the American Bank Center. The tiny coliseum right across the street from the beach proved a challenge for the team ropers on Wednesday night during the first round of the Rodeo Corpus Christi Progressive Round at the first stop on the World Champions Rodeo Alliance’s (WCRA) Triple Crown of Rodeo.
While almost half the field failed to stop the clock, it was a team that hadn’t roped a steer together before Monday’s Qualifying Rounds here that took the victory lap as Garrett Elmore and Justin de la Garza won the night.
Elmore of Springer, Oklahoma and de la Garza of Refugio, Texas were actually alternates for the event and when they found out they were getting in, they also found out they were drawing for partners.
“I didn’t have enough points because I’d only nominated a couple of events and didn’t do that good at them,” Elmore, 21, admitted. “When it looked like I was going to get in as an alternate, I started talking to a couple of guys to see about getting a partner.”
“Then they told us the alternates were drawn partners,” Elmore continued. “I didn’t know Justin from Adam.”
Elmore reached out to friends who lived in South Texas who might know de la Garza and found out from them that he was actually a really good draw.
“They said he roped good,” Elmore said.
“Honestly, I didn’t know him,” de la Garza, 23, said. “A buddy of mine had his number so I called him up and we talked for a bit.”
“It worked out pretty good,” de la Garza noted wryly.
The pair advanced out of the Qualifying Rounds held at Robstown on Monday and moved on to the final night’s Showdown Round after stopping the clock in 5.44 seconds on Wednesday night. They just skimmed past the Division Youth (DY) Rodeo Incentive winners Conley Kleinhans and Bray Fenogilio, who were 5.46 seconds. Both teams will rope again Saturday.
For Elmore, it was a continuation of a hot May. He finished his college rodeo season for Southeastern Oklahoma State University by winning first in all three timed events at the last rodeo of the season. That performance allowed Elmore to end as the Reserve All-Around Champ for the Central Plains Region and earn a third College National Finals Rodeo qualification.
“It was a good weekend,” Elmore laughed. Though he qualified in 2020, he didn’t get to compete as the rodeo was canceled due to COVID. He made a repeat appearance in 2021, advancing to the short go in the tie-down roping. This year, he will compete in the steer wrestling and tie-down.
His nickname is “Hot Shot” and while it’s become totally appropriate for his winning ways in rodeo arenas, the origin is much funnier.
“My uncle put on team ropings when I was younger and my job was to push up the cattle but they wouldn’t let me run the hotshot,” he said. “So on my third birthday, I asked for a hotshot and my grandma got me one.”
While family lore holds that no one knows how the batteries got into the machine, the end result was that Elmore’s mother, Tammy, ended up getting a shock from her young son.
“It wasn’t good but she did forgive me,” he laughed.
On Wednesday night, “Hot Shot” Elmore was aboard his fourteen-year-old bay horse while de la Garza rode his palomino Corona for the win.
“I bought him from Daniel Braman,” de la Garza said. “He’s really, really good. The best horse I’ve owned so far.”
As the third team to rope on the short setup, the pair didn’t have the luxury of knowing how soft the roping would end up.
“I knew I had to be on the barrier,” Elmore said. “We had a steer we had in the Qualifying Rounds and he was on the stronger end.”
“I knew if I was off the barrier, it wouldn’t be any good so I just tried to nail that and do my job.”
Elmore managed to keep the steer in front of him, giving de la Garza a clean go where many other teams were ending up in the wall.
“My header did a good job and I tried to just take a smart shot,” de la Garza noted. Things were happening so quick, he blew his cowboy hat on the corner. “I was kinda embarrassed about losing my hat,” he admitted with a chuckle.
The $1,600 they won went a long way to make up for that. Now, they’ll come back Saturday to rope two steers for a shot at $15,000 and the Rodeo Corpus Christi title, which happens to come with a trophy surfboard.
“I might have to give it a try,” Elmore said of surfing while de la Garza was more adamant.
“No,” he said strictly. “I don’t plan on trying it.”
To get the win, both men say they’ll have the same game plan they did on Wednesday night.
“We’re not changing anything,” Elmore said.
Rodeo Corpus Christi continues on Thursday and Friday with the final two rounds of the Progressive. Two teams from each perf will join Wednesday’s winners and the #1 WCRA Leaderboard team, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, to rope for the titles through the two sudden death rounds: first up, the Showdown Round, and then the top three Triple Crown Round.
All performances are available to watch live on RidePass on PlutoTV. The Cowboy Channel will also air coverage from Corpus.
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 Results
- Garrett Elmore/Justin de la Garza, 5.44, $1,600*
- Conley Kleinhans (DY)/Bray Fenogilio (DY), 5.46, $1,200*
- Casey Hicks/Stitches Stanley, 6.30, $800
- Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins, 7.96, $400
*Top 2 Advance to Showdown Round