Lightning Aguilera and Coleby Payne took an early lead with a 4.3-second run during Monday morning slack at the 2022 Woodward (Oklahoma) Elks Rodeo, a lead they maintained throughout the week to win the title and $3,460 each.
Aguilera and Payne were the second team to rope on the first day of the rodeo, setting the bar high for the rest of the teams to follow.
“I knew we made a good run, but there was still Dustin Egusquiza, Kaleb Driggers, Tyler Wade, and a lot of good teams left,” said Aguilera, 28, of Athens, Texas.
The field was stacked with some of the top names in team roping, including the 2021 Woodward Elks Rodeo champions, Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves, who were 4.4 to take the second spot on the leaderboard and $3,096 each. Bubba Buckaloo and Joseph Harrison followed with a 4.7 to take third and $2,732 each.
“Our steer was pretty good, and I got a good go, which made it a lot easier,” Aguilera said. “I feel like if you’re a little late there, they’re a long way away. Coleby did a good job of getting around there, and he heeled them fast. We finished pretty good, and it worked out.”
Aguilera, who is currently ranked fourth in the PRCA world standings with $47,601.66 in earnings, attributes the win to his horse Jess A Moose—or Gray as he calls him—who has become a game-changer for Aguilera since purchasing him from Jordan Weaver back in December.
“He scores good and gives me a chance to win pretty much everywhere we go,” Aguilera said of the 11-year-old gray gelding. “If there’s a mess up, it’s my fault. I don’t have to worry about him cheating me anywhere. I’m able to go and do my job.”
Coleby Payne, 23, of Stephenville, Texas, agreed that their horses have played a major role in their success this season.
“He’s got one of the best head horses in my opinion,” Payne said. “I have the best horsepower I’ve ever had also. So it’s just perfect.”
Payne, who is currently ranked 18th in the PRCA world standings with $26,101.66 in earnings, rode Downinthe Boons Adoc—or Moonshine as he calls him—a 17-year-old sorrel gelding he purchased from Shawn Kreder of Morgan Mill, Texas, who was previously owned by Logan Medlin and ridden at the College National Finals Rodeo.
“I bought him as a practice horse and about a week later, I fell in love with him,” Payne said. “He’s just easy. He doesn’t mess up for me.”
Aguilera and Payne plan to continue their winning streak as they head out to rope at the Reno Rodeo and Bob Feist Invitational in Reno, Nevada, to kick off their summer run.
“Things can happen so fast, you know, and these next few weeks, a lot changes with standings and that whole deal,” Payne said. “There’s definitely a long ways to go. We just gotta keep our head down and hope for the best.”
Woodward Elks Rodeo Results:
1. Lightning Aguilera and Coleby Payne, 4.3 seconds, $3,460 each
2. Dustin Egusquiza and Travis Graves, 4.4 seconds, $3,096
3. Bubba Buckaloo and Joseph Harrison, 4.7 seconds, $2,732
4. Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith, 4.9 seconds, $2,368
5/6. Coy Rahlmann and Douglas Rich
5/6. Clint Summers and Ross Ashford, 5.0 seconds, $1,821 each
7/8. Ryon Joe Boatright and Kingston Chang
7/8. Luke Brown and Hunter Koch, 5.2 seconds, $1,093 each
9. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins II, 5.4 seconds, $546
10. Kyle Winslow and Levi Walter, 6.3 seconds, $182