Mike Cervi Jr., the son of legendary stock contractor Mike Cervi and husband of two-time World Champion Barrel Racer Sherry Cervi, died in a private plane crash in 2001 at the age of 30. Ever since, his family and friends have annually held a team roping in his honor. He finished 16th in the world standings in 1999, heading for Kory Koontz.
Since the 1980s, George Aros had a roping, first called the Aros Roping Classic and later the Tubac Championship Roping. After Cervi’s death, Aros, along with Sherry Cervi’s father, Mel Potter, renamed the roping. Today it’s held after slack on the Tucson Rodeo grounds the Wednesday prior to La Fiesta de los Vaqueros.
This year, twin brothers Jake and Jim Ross Cooper held off Speed Williams and Clay O’Brien Cooper by roping five steers in 40.78 seconds. In sum, they won $14,070 each. While neither Cooper brother had won the roping before, there was a repeat winner on the team. Jake recently bought the horse Trevor Brazile rode to win the event last year, Stinger.
“He’s probably not the fastest horse in the world but he scores really good, I love him,” Jake said. “It’s one of the best buys I’ve ever made. He’s not hard to ride, he’s user-friendly. I rode him this year in San Antone and Tucson.”
The organizers changed the format slightly, raising entry fees and limiting each person to one entry-but with nearly 40 teams the competition remained stiff.
“We stayed away from the hardest running steers, my partner roped awesome,” Jake said of his brother. “There’s not many ropers you can go to and win $14,000. It’s a real big win for us and it helps a guy keep going.”
Jake and Jim Ross are the sons of 1981 All-Around World Champion Cowboy Jimmie Cooper.
“We knew we were going to have to rope real solid, maybe not take as many chances,” Jim Ross said. “We came back to the short round high call by a little bit over second but by a second or two over third. We knew if we made a good run, the worst we could win was second. We happened to draw good enough again to win it.”
The proceeds from the roping benefit the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, and during the seven years it’s been held, over $90,000 has been donated.