The Cinch Timed Event Championship will see a new face—Nebraska’s Riley Wakefield—at the March 2–4 event at Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Lazy E Arena.
All-around competitor Riley Wakefield of ONeill, Nebraska, has been applying to be a part of the event for the last four years—but was always on the alternate list or not considered.
“This has been something I wanted to do my whole life,” Wakefield (26) said. “It’s something that’s fit me ever since I was young. I am absolutely psyched.”
The swap comes in the wake of world champion tie-down roper, Haven Meged’s schedule snafu with the Houston rodeo, where he drew up in the first Super Series of the Houston Rodeo Feb. 28–March 2, which overlaps with the first day of the Cinch Timed Event Championship that runs March 2–4. With performances in the evenings, there was no way Meged could be in two places at once.
Meged Makes Tough Call
“The last thing I wanted to do is turn out of the Timed Event,” Meged said. “I tried and tried to get trades. I thought I had trade options [for RodeoHouston ] and people backed out. I made the call because I’m behind in world standings and Houston pays so much. I’m trying to make a living and make it to the NFR.”
Note: RodeoHouston pays $3,000 to win in each round of the Super Series, $3,000 to win the semifinals and $50,000 to win the championship. The Cinch Timed Event aggregate pays $100,000 to the champion, but the earnings don’t count toward PRCA standings.
Despite Meged’s disappointment over missing out on one of rodeo’s most prestigious events, he said the TEC couldn’t have found a better competitor to take his spot.
“Wakefield does everything really good,” Meged said. “I’m sure he’ll be one of those guys they invite back every year because he’s an all-around hand.”
Riley Wakefield Enters the Chat
Wakefield first heard he may get bumped from first alternate to full-blown Timed Event competitor in January, and quickly set out to polish his skills and find horses to ride.
To prepare, Wakefield started team roping again as well as laying the trip on a breakaway rope for the steer tripping.
“I’ve had to specialize in the last few years in the calf roping because things are so competitive but growing up I worked steer wrestling, team roping and calf roping equally as hard,” Wakefield said.
He may claim tie-down as his specialty, but that didn’t stop the multifaceted cowboy from picking up a 2022 steer wrestling win at the Pendleton Round-Up in September.
“I don’t practice bulldogging much and that seems to help,” Wakefield said.
Wakefield knows Meged well. Not only are they ProRodeo peers, but they competed against one another at the College National Finals Rodeo in 2019. Although thrilled to be competing, Wakefield felt a pang of disapointment at not having Meged on arena dirt alongside him.
“I feel bad, I wish it didn’t have to happen this way and Haven could have worked something out,” Meged said. “Haven would have been one of my most respected competitors—he would have been one of the hardest guys to beat in my eyes.”
Working Out The Details
In the calf roping and heeling, Wakefield will be riding personal horses Gator and William, respectively. In the heading he’ll borrow a horse of Danielle Wray’s, and in the steer wrestling he’s hoping to reunite with his old horse “Bondo” he sold in 2022.
In the steer tripping he’ll be riding Todd Everly’s horse Mississippi, who was owned by Jess Tierney when he won the event in 2017.
None of Wakefield’s help is set yet, although he’s working on rounding up talent to head, heel and haze for him.