The Navajo Nation’s Erich Rogers and California’s Taylor Santos are one and two heading into the fifth and final round of the 2022 Cinch Timed Event Championship, setting up an always-prolific showdown on the last five head across five events at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
2020 CTEC Champ Santos picked up his second-straight $3,000 check for winning Round 4 with a time of 52.0, while Rogers was second for $2,000 with a 55.0. But Rogers leads the event by 27.8 seconds, and the nine-time CTEC qualifier has been rock solid all weekend long.
“We drew really good this round,” Rogers, 35, said. “In the heading, we made a really good run. Paden’s been doing outstanding. My calf roping run, we drew a good one. Logan he’s keeping me on my toes in the heeling, but he’s doing an outstanding job. The bull dogging steer was outstanding—they told me to catch him and turn his head and he’d throw himself, so I sat on my butt and bull dogged and it worked.”
Rogers only bobble came in the steer roping, when the neck rope stayed on his steer and had his mind playing tricks on him.
“Whenever I come out and the neck rope was on, I was riding and thinking I should pull up, but then I thought, ‘No just go with it,'” Rogers, of Round Rock, Arizona, said. “Because if I’d have pulled up they would’ve given me an extra and I don’t want one of those on this fresh set of steers. The one I’d drawn was really good. It kept me honest and made my horse run up there and finish the job and get him captured. I had slowed up my swing just a little bit and I should have stayed aggressive with it.”
He finished in 21.1 seconds, keeping him in the driver’s seat of the aggregate.
Two-time NFR tie-down roper and one-time NFSR qualifier Santos won Round 3 with a 51.4 and was just off that pace to win Round 4 with the 52.0, sticking with his plan of making aggressive practice runs in every event.
“Marcus Theriot tied the tie-down calf in 9.9 the first time,” Santos said. “I felt like I took a fairly comfortable aggressive shot but I knocked the calf down and didn’t keep him on his feet so I took a little longer than I thought and I was 10. In the tripping, my brother tied that steer in 20 or 22, and Clay Smith tied him in 12.3 last night. I thought he’d be softer than he was, but he got away from me to the right. I didn’t want to panic and give up anything, so I just tried to go complete the course on him.”
Santos’ heading helper NFR average and American champ Andrew Ward pushed him to be aggressive in the heeling to be 8.7, and he was another 8.7 with Trey Yates in the heading. He was 7.4 in the bull dogging and 16.6 in the steer roping.
“It’s so much momentum,” Santos, 27, reiterated. “My brother (Lane Karney) call me this morning, and I said, ‘Hey what’s up?’ He said ‘Let’s have a good moving day.’ I said ‘Let’s move up not down!'”
Santos and Rogers are out ahead of third-place’s Clayton Hass with 272.0, Russell Cadoza at 274.0 and Roger Gonella at 275.4.
“I’m far enough back that things will have to happen,” Santos said. “I can’t just get three seconds on every run—it won’t make a difference. But I think it will be fun tonight.”
With Bobby Joe Hill’s cattle, Rogers isn’t too afraid of drawing any steers or calves that will take him out of the race.
“There’s a couple bull dogging steers in there I don’t really want, but I got by the one I really wouldn’t want the first night,” Rogers said. “The tripping steers have been laying down really good, and the bull dogging steers have been good. It might be better to get a stronger one to push on me a bit, and the calves are going to be big and strong tonight. The calf horse I’m riding, Nubs, is going to have to ante up tonight. The team roping steers are good on both ends.It will be my first time in the high back situation, so we’ll have to see what it’s like when we get there.” TRJ