IPRA World Champion Bumps $1M NFR Heeler Out of First in WCRA
In the June 29 Rodeo Carolina standings report from the WCRA, six-time IPRA World Champion Heeler Stephen Britnell bested 5-time NFR heeler Buddy Hawkins by 18 points to become No. 1.
Stephen "Booger" Bitnell heeling at the 2017 IFR47.
Stephen "Booger" Britnell heels one down at IFR47 to clinch his sixth IPRA World Championship. Emily Gethke Photography

Stephen “Booger” Britnell heels one down at IFR47 in 2017 to clinch his sixth IPRA World Championship. Emily Gethke Photography

It’s been 23 years since Knoxville, Tennessee’s Stephen “Booger” Britnell won his first of six IPRA World Championships. To say he’s a seasoned competitor would be a gross understatement and, yet, when his name appeared at the top of the WCRA Rodeo Carolina Leaderboard this week, it caught the attention of the greater rodeo world.

About “Booger”

Britnell, 48, is a staple at the International Finals Rodeo, appearing in both the Oklahoma City (IFR 50 and before) and Guthrie arenas throughout the years. He’s also a PRCA Southeastern Circuit heavy hitter and the 2011 Ram National Circuit Finals Champion in the heeling. To round out his accolades, he’s earned the Southeastern Professional Rodeo Association Team Roping Heeler title on multiple occasions and is a longtime USTRC and NTRL competitor. Now, he’s putting the WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo events in his sights. 

Triple Crown: East Coast edition

The IPRA and WCRA partnership is one that’s been profitable for Eastern cowboys. Rodeo Carolina will feature a first-of-its-kind format that will allow competitors who hold an IPRA card to count 100% of their event earnings toward their IPRA world standings ranking, and a select amount in the progressive and Triple Crown of Rodeo round toward IPRA standings, free of additional entry fee. It’s going to be one of the highest-paying regular season rodeos all year for the membership.

The 2023 season is especially critical for IPRA athletes, as Rodeo Logistics helped increase the payout by nearly $200,000 at the upcoming IFR 54 in Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Lazy E Arena after they purchased the IPRA in 2023.  

Richest rodeo east of the Mississippi

The timeline that athletes can nominate for Rodeo Carolina through the WCRA’s Virtual Rodeo Qualifier system runs from March 20 to Sept. 10, ahead of Rodeo Carolina, scheduled Oct. 5–8, 2023, at the world-famous Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort in North Carolina. The payout at the culminating event is a guaranteed $400,000, positioning Rodeo Carolina as the richest rodeo east of the Mississippi. 

Find out more about nominations and how to capitalize on the IPRA/WCRA partnership HERE.

It’s not the first time a major WCRA event will be hosted east of the mighty river—in 2019, the WCRA hosted the Windy City Roundup in Chicago, Illinois, and the Titletown Stampede in Green Bay, Wisconsin—it will be the first WCRA rodeo ever held in the regional East. For avid ropers like Britnell, it’s an opportunity that can’t be missed.  

“Booger” is back on top

Since the start of the segment, Britnell has nominated with fervor. He ropes every weekend and nominates at the same pace, to the earnings tune of 1,909.5 points. On the leaderboard last week, five-time NFR qualifier and current No. 2 PRCA world standings heeler Buddy Hawkins had the Rodeo Carolina leader with 1,891.5 points. Now, Britnell holds the No. 1 spot by just 18 points.

As for his IPRA ranking, Brittnell is hungry for another world title based off the numbers. He is No. 1 in the 2023 heeling standings with 14,875.66 earned—a healthy lead over No. 2 ranked heeler, Alabama’s Zack Mabry.

As a teenager, following the untimely death of his father, Marion, Britnell was headed in an unsavory direction until a friend of Marion’s kept him busy going to ropings every weekend and practicing with him in between. It’s a schedule that Britnell—also a farrier, like his dad—has maintained his whole life, and with proven results … most recently written on the Rodeo Carolina Leaderboard. TRJ

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