Jeff Flenniken and Jaylen Eldridge grew up in Idaho’s harsh winter weather, so a little rain and cold didn’t stop them from getting the win at the Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial in Casa Grande, Arizona, Feb. 23.
The Idaho natives won $29,145 for their time of 34.03 seconds on five head.
“Jaylen and I have roped together since we were young, and that makes it that much cooler to win the biggest roping I’ve ever won with him,” Flenniken, 25, said.
[Read More: 2018 Resistol Rookie of the Year Jeff Flenniken]
“I don’t know how many times we made that run on goats and ponies,” Eldridge, 19, said. “He’d come pick me up at school and we’d run goat after goat. So to win that roping, which I grew up hearing about, with him, was awesome.”
The roping boasted 190 teams, and Flenniken and Eldridge won it from second callback.
“I knew I needed to catch that steer,” Eldridge said. “We had to be 6.9 to go to the lead, and I knew Jeff was roping really good, so I just needed to catch him. I let him out there farther than I planned on, but when I saw I caught him I just thought ‘DALLY!'”
For the win, Flenniken rode a 9-year-old gelding he calls Bubba that came from Dillon Holyfield.
“Dillon amateur rodeoed on him, and I asked him if he ever rode him in the mud and he said that he was always great in the mud,” Flenniken said. “He didn’t care at all, so I stayed on him.”
Eldridge rode an 8-year-old gelding named Stripper, a horse from Ryan McKenzie in Idaho.
“They cowboyed on him and used him as a ranch horse,” Eldridge said. “I started heeling on him. I picked up bucking horses on him and started riding him at ranch rodeos, and I just started rodeoing on him last summer. I’ve cowboyed on him and they’ve cowboyed on him, so that mud was a day off for him.”
The mud might not have bothered their horses, but it had Flenniken a tick nervous riding into the box on the first steer.
“The rain was hitting me hard in the face on that first steer,” Flenniken said. “My hands were freezing, and they were so cold I couldn’t point my finger—I just palmed my rope. I don’t have good circulation in my hands, so they were just numb. I was swinging my rope when I rode into the box and was nervous that I couldn’t feel anything, so I told myself to not point my finger and turn my rope over and keep it flat. My loop was actually maybe one of the best I threw all day.”
Eldridge, however, wasn’t much phased by the weather.
“I had chaps on and a couple coats, so my pants stayed dry. I did wear two gloves, so when I swung my rope it felt a little funny, but it didn’t affect anything,” Eldridge said.
Flenniken, who roped at the 2020 NFR in Arlington with Tyler Worley, is heading for Jake Minor in ProRodeo competition this year, while Eldridge—the 2021 Reno BFI Week Jr. Open Champion—heeled in Arizona this winter for Jake Barnes and won the first round at Tucson with the legend. TRJ