Feb. 26, 2019 / Guthrie, Oklahoma – The future of rodeo looks bright, and one of the reasons behind it is the Jr. Ironman Championship.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids to expose their talent,” said Erich Rogers, a CINCH Timed Event Championship regular from Round Rock, Arizona. “There’s a lot of raw talent in the world that nobody knows about, and the Jr. Ironman shows them they have the ability to do anything in the big leagues.”
The Jr. Ironman features 10 all-around timed-event contestants ranging in age from 15-20 competing in tie-down roping, heading, heeling and steer wrestling. It is the perfect precursor to what happens over the five rounds of the CTEC, and it is a development system in place for the future of the 35-year-old championship.
“I think the Junior Timed Event is really good,” said Trevor Brazile, the winningest all-around cowboy in the history of the sport. “I remember how excited I was when I was 18, and I came here to compete in this. To see the Junior Timed Event here and getting those young cowboys involved early – in being multi-event cowboys and not specializing – means a lot to me.
“I hope to see some of those guys competing in the Timed Event in a few years. It gets in their blood early and lets them not be one-dimensional. For them to be able to reap the benefits of being a multi-event cowboy is fun to see. My hat’s off to the Lazy E for involving them.”
Rogers is more than a CTEC competitor. He’s a world champion header who is proud of his Navajo roots. In fact, he’s supporting a fellow Navajo cowboy, teenager Hiyo Yazzi of Brimhall, New Mexico, who is part of the Jr. Ironman field.
“He’s a young kid coming off the reservation, and he’s hungry,” Rogers said of Yazzi. “He’s got all the ability to do it. I’ve been around him since he was a little guy, at junior rodeos, then on to high school and to the Indian rodeos. I competed against his dad several times, and his dad’s a pretty good hand right there on the reservation who had the ability to take off and rodeo, but he stayed behind to take care of those kids.”
The champ works to motivate the young cowboy, avoid the pitfalls that come with living on the Navajo Nation and keep his focus on rodeo.
“There’s a lot of stuff that happens back home,” Rogers said. “What little I got to see him, I just told him to stay away from the bad stuff. He’s got the talent and ability to make an impact in rodeo.”
Jess Tierney is the 2017 CTEC champion who grew up around the event; his father is a four-time winner, and his brother has two titles. He likes what he sees with the growth of the Jr. Ironman, and part of that comes from being the rodeo coach at Western Oklahoma State College in Altus.
“What rodeo does for kids today is outstanding,” Tierney said. “They’ve got a lot more chances to do things than we did when I was a kid. The Jr. Ironman is the ultimate in youth sports. When you look at rodeo these days, there are a lot of single-event cowboys. There aren’t a lot of people doing multiple events.
“I think the Jr. Ironman keeps kids interested in being an all-around cowboy, which I like. To just be a cowboy, it’s so impressive when you can do anything you need to do with a rope or sitting behind a barrier. The Timed Event is so special, and the future for it looks bright because of this.”
He’s also been visiting with another Jr. Ironman competitor, Cole Walker of Sparta, Tennessee. It’s not been much a mentorship, but Tierney likes what he sees in Walker.
“He’s a real impressive kid who has a great personality and a great outlook on what he’s doing,” Tierney said. “He’s very talented, and I think he’ll have some success there.”
But there are eight others vying for the top prize and the opportunity to stake claim to the title. This is just the third year for the Jr. Ironman, but it’s building a foundation for years to come.
“It’s making things better for rodeo,” Rogers said. “It’s making the rodeo industry for the Timed Event and for cowboys in general. It brings all the young caliber of ropers that have that ability. You just don’t see that in a cowboy every day.”
There’s also something about the youngsters who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and try their hands at events they haven’t mastered. The Jr. Ironman, just like the CTEC, is a rugged test of mental and physical challenges.
“What I like about the Jr. Ironman is they’ve got some grit,” Tierney said. “Kids that are going to be in that event are my kind of kids, because they look for ways to win instead of making excuses. That’s what I like.
“We’re going to lose enough in life, so we might as well figure out how to win.”
2018 Jr. Ironman Championship Contestants
Rowdy Norwood – Amarillo, Texas
Quade Hiatt – Canyon, Texas
Rylen Sutherland – Benton, Kentucky
Trevor Meier – Garden City, Kansas
Dillon Jones – Weir, Mississippi
Hiyo Yazzi – Brimhall, New Mexico
Allen Morse – Dawson Springs,
Kentucky Cole Walker – Sparta, Tennessee
Laine Moore – Asbury, Alabama
Charles Tyler West – Mertzon, Texas
The 2019 CINCH Timed Event Championship and Jr. Ironman is sponsored by CINCH, Priefert – Farm, Ranch & Rodeo, YETI Coolers, Montana Silversmiths, Sooner Trailers, ABI Equine, Nutrena, CSI Saddle Pads, Hilton Garden Inn, Smarty, WCRA, Carroll Original Wear, P&K Equipment, MacroAir, Bio S.I., National Saddlery, Cross Bar Gallery, John Vance Auto, Pendleton Whisky, Guthrie CVB, Made In Oklahoma Coalition, RIDE TV, Western Legacy, Oklahoma Junior Cattlemen’s Association, RAM and Sherwin-Williams.