Watching talented teams fall apart may have psyched out some ropers, but a late draw was one of the keys that helped veterans Jay Tittel and Trey Johnson win their performance at the WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championship on December 14.
“I didn’t know anything about the steer,” Tittel said. “We got to watch several before us and kind of knew what they were like. When we went, there wasn’t a clean run, so we were just going to go make a jackpot run and just get him caught.”
On the heel side, Trey Johnson had high praise for Tittel’s expert timing and handling on the front half of the run.
Jay did a great job scoring,” Johnson said. “That steer didn’t really go anywhere right there and he did a good job letting him get out in front and getting him captured so we can come back Saturday night.”
Tittel, of Pueblo, Colorado, nominated multiple-head rodeos like the PRCA Mountain States Circuit Finals and Colorado Pro Rodeo Association finals to earn his Cowtown Christmas Championship position. Tittel had roped with Johnson in the past, so he knew they could win money together in Cowtown Coliseum when they both made the qualifying cut.
While Tittel owns a business selling and renting out shipping containers, Johnson stays busy in his ministry, puttng on roping clinics and conducting training for corporate teams when he isn’t in the roping pen. Tittel is enjoying his first WCRA event, but Johnson has been a longtime supporter of the WCRA format.
“I’ve been going to WCRA events since they started,” Johnson said. “These work really well, especially for guys like us. We really appreciate the opportunity to nominate where we do have time to go and still have a chance at big money and to get to rope against the best guys in the world.”
Tittel called upon his old faithful, Lickety Split, for the performance.
“I’ve had him since he was 5,” Tittel said. “He’ll be 18 this year. He’s been a big blessing to my whole family. He’s pretty nice.”
Johnson’s “Royal,” brought far less experience to the heel side.
“She’s a 6-year-old,” Johnson said. “I just decided today to bring her. This is probably her biggest event that she’s been at, but she handled it good so I was pleased with her.”
The guys will pick up world champions Clay Tryan and Jade Corkill en route to the Showdown Round on Saturday, where they will join No. I seeded athletes, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, and the ropers who earn their advancement positions in Thursday and Friday’s performances. From there, the top three in the Showdown Round will advance to the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round to determine who will take home the $15,000 first-place money. Tittel and Johnson earned $1,600 each for their efforts. Tryan and Corkill’s 9.87-second run earned them $1,200 on each side and the advancing position, and Beau Hebert and Tye Reddell pulled an $800 check each for their third-place 16.23-second trip.
Neither Tittel nor Johnson are sweating the Showdown Round.
“We’ll just see what we need to do and go do our job one steer at a time,” Johnson said. “We plan on running two on Saturday.”
“If we’re towards the bottom, it will be easier to see what we need to do,” Tittel said. “If we need to go fast, we’ll try to do that, just like we would have tonight.”