like they never left

The Boys are Back: Riley Kittle and Jace Helton Win Progressive Round 1 of 2024 Rodeo Corpus Christi
Reigning WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi team roping champs Riley Kittle and Jace Helton kicked off the 2024 event with the win in Progressive Round 1.
Riley Kittle turning a steer for Jace Helton in Progressive Round 1 of 2024 WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi.
Riley Kittle and Jace Helton won Progressive Round 1 of 2024 WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi. | Photo by Bull Stock Media, courtesy WCRA

Riley Kittle and Jace Helton are in the hunt for back-to-back WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi titles after securing their spot in the Saturday, May 11, Showdown Round.

The 2022 College National Finals Rodeo team roping champs and reigning Rodeo Corpus Christi champs turned in a 4.64-second run Thursday, May 9, 2024, to win Progressive Round 1 of Rodeo Corpus Christi. There’s a lot on the line for the boys with a repeat title and a spot in Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo on the WCRA Free Riders team up for grabs.

“Obviously that’s a big incentive,” Kittle, 22, said. “I would love to win Corpus twice; I think all the great guys win everything at least two times.”

The Texas transplants—Kittle from Alabama and Helton from California originally—pocketed $5,000 for the round win as well as clinched one of seven spots in the Showdown Round.

“I knew we had a nice cow, so I just wanted to get a good start,” Kittle said. “She waited on us, I stuck it on her and the run developed good. We just happened to be a little faster than the other guys.” 

Despite the round being plagued by misses, Kittle and Helton weren’t backing off as only the winners from Rounds 1 and 2 and top five in the two-head aggregate advance to the Showdown Round.

“They ran our steer in the [DY Showcase], and he wanted to go right,” Helton, 21, explained. “So, I’m glad I knew that; I started up a little bit further up the box. He stayed straight—stepped left even. [Riley] did a great job heading him and laid him up. I was just in catch mode, and he happened to handle him good enough I was able to put it down pretty fast, got a good finish, and ended up winning the round.”

Kittle was riding a 10-year-old bay gelding he calls Big Time who helped him and Helton win a round at the WCRA Rodeo Carolina in October 2023.

“I ride him in pretty much all the shorter stuff,” Kittle explained. “He’s been doing really good for me.”

WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi Roster, Results and more

Helton’s Rodeo Corpus Christi mount, 13-year-old Dracula, is familiar with the bayfronts of the American Bank Center.

“I’ve been riding him everywhere, and I won this on him here last year,” Helton said. “The buildings seem to fit him pretty good.”

Kittle and Helton aren’t too sure what it is about Corpus Christi that fits them so well, but drawing good cattle and focusing on roping their steers for what they are sure helps. They plan to keep that mindset in Round 2, preparing for a big Saturday night.

“We’ll see what we draw and just make a good sharp run,” Kittle said. “Keep the horses working good for Saturday.”

Progressive Round 1 team roping results

Riley Kittle Jace Helton4.64$5,000.00 
JC Yeahquo Buddy Hawkins4.72$2,500.00 
Luke Brown Jade Corkill4.77$1,000.00 
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