Oregon team ropers Chris Westbrooks and Austin Thompson stayed locked-in on the big screen above the main arena, watching as the top-five callbacks failed to best their average time of 30.38 seconds on four head in the Ariat #12.5 WSTR Finale.
When they came tight on their short round steer at sixth callback in 6.19 seconds, nobody else could touch them for a whopping $242,000 payday.
“I feel like I can just enjoy the trip now,” said Westbrooks who was roping at his very first Finale. “My anxiety has been pretty high for a while.”
Westbrooks had been disappointed in his earlier performance in the outdoor arena and knew he could not carry that that over to the main event.
“Yesterday I was pretty angry at myself,” Westbrooks said. “I turned red, got mad and went and watched the rodeo and just started over anew.”
Westbrooks, who runs Akins Trailer Sales in Monroe, Oregon, said they just got back to their initial game plan.
“We kind of have one run. My goal was just to eliminate mistakes. If I could rope them, I knew Austin would clean it up,” Westbrooks explained.
The duo agreed that sometimes the success is in the draw.
“I don’t know if anyone drew as good as we did,” Thompson added. “We knew they would pay us, so we were going to be happy either way it went.”
The Ariat #12.5 Finale Champions qualified together at a Flying R Ventures event back in June in Powell Butte, Oregon.
“We didn’t run a single steer together until we got down here,” Westbrooks, who was riding a 10-year-old bay gelding he calls Starbuck, said. Registered A Little Caffeinated, he’s by Smart Starbuck out of a daughter of Little Rough Peppy and is an AQHA point earner in the heading. “He’s easy to be around, but he’s got some tricks. Austin hauled him down here for me, so he got a little dose of it.”
Thompson was heeling on a home-raised 13-year-old red roan mare he calls Holly.
“She’s put me in so many spots to make things happen,” said the Yoncalla, Oregon, native. “She took me to the College Finals two years, and we placed in a round out there.”
Westbrooks and Thompson got a special treat when the King of the Cowboys, Trevor Brazile, showed up to present their check on behalf of Ariat and the Relentless brand.
“Trevor told me my head horse looked pretty sharp, so that was pretty cool,” said Westbrooks. TRJ