When Kaleb Driggers and Patrick Smith decided to rope together, Driggers decided to try to stop reaching so much.
That was a bad idea. So when he started reaching again, they won the American in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
They roped their first steer in 4.47 seconds to just make it back to the shootout round of the American in fourth place. They’d rope first in front of Jake Barnes and Junior Nogueira, Nick Sartain and Rich Skelton and Erich Rogers and Cory Petska. They put the heat on the rest of the pack with a 4.38-second run, and nobody could catch them. Barnes and Nogueira would rope a hard-fought 4.61, Sartain would get an illegal head catch and Rogers and Petska would go 4.49 to take home $25,000 a man for second.
“That was the longest three steers of my life,” Driggers, who’s usually pretty even-keeled, laughed. “When we were 4.3 in the final deal, no doubt it felt great, but in those semifinals that wouldn’t have won it. So I had no idea if it would hold up.”
While Driggers’ only had post-run, pre-$100,000 nerves, Smith would feel the pressure all day in the unique set up.
“To me, for some reason, I was nervous today. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know what it was. It was just the feel of it. I think it was maybe just the fact that at the NFR you’ve got 10 runs at $18,000. Here, you’ve got one run, with 18 teams, and 14 go home. The first run was a little more nerve wracking than the second round. Not saying I wasn’t nervous in the second round, obviously, but being first out takes a little pressure off. It takes the thinking out of it. We just went and made the best run we could.”
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