Colby Lovell and Paul Eaves won Round 8, Round 9 and Round 10, which gave them enough earnings to stun the field and win the 2020 PRCA World Champion Heading and Heeling titles with $187,835.57 and $178,485.97, in PRCA season earnings, respectively.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE:
Chelsea Shaffer: I’d like a little redemption, because last night I asked you about how you’d approach your chances for tonight, and you both gave me a look like I was an idiot.
Paul Eaves: I don’t think I did. Well I hadn’t really seen anything yet whenever you asked me that. And I didn’t really want to let on in any way because it wasn’t really in our control completely. Stuff had to fall the right way. I won’t elaborate on it too much.
Colby Lovell: When you asked, honestly I didn’t really know. It had got to the point through the ups and downs of survival just trying to end the year good for our family and start the year off. So when you asked, honestly I didn’t know. But then, when we went over there (to the buckle ceremony) and they played it and they showed it, and then I got to looking into it, and then when I left, I was like, ‘Huh, we do have a—an outside chance,’ but it was a chance. And that’s what we work for. I told Paul. I felt like everything we worked for was a chance. Just, last day, have a chance, going to have a chance. It was, it was good. Just knowing we were going to have a chance today.
CS: As the chips started to fall, and people started to drop out of the day money, did you like how much better your chances were getting?
PE: It kind of looked like it.
CL: All I knew, is that—Luke and I are real good friends, Luke, Paul, Joseph. I talk to Luke, and I knew if Luke placed in the rounds sixth or up—I was just going to go get paid and there was nothing we could do about it. But if he was sixth, the only way was to win the round. And I had it figured down to $400-$500 and that’s what they told us. We had to win the round. Everything started going, and I knew our steer came left. I took up my rope, and I used a smaller loop tonight and relied on my horse getting close and Paul.
CS: Paul, did you see the run coming together on your end? Or was it happening so fast that it was over before you really knew what happened?
PE: I did see it all. I knew the steer was slow, and I wanted to give him a little bit of a chance, but I knew if I give him too much breathing room, you can mess yourself up and not be in a good spot. So I wanted to get the start I wanted, and I didn’t know if he was out but he roped him fast and he was rolling left. And my mare read me just a little bit. And she knew what was coming so I had to make up for it a little bit. But it really felt good. Luckily for that steer, he was better than a lot of other ones you could have had. And luckily the round wasn’t that tough.
CS: Colby, this is really emotional for all of us, because we’ve been following your story and the loss of our friend Cody NesSmith. He believed you’d be here with a gold buckle more than you did.
CL: That was the first thing I thought when I drove up here. You know, I told my wife, and I talked to Martin Lucero today, and you’ve been as big of a part of it as anybody, The Team Roping Journal, y’all have been huge for Cody and his family and his mom and dad are here tonight. That was the first thing. I texted his dad and said, ‘He was right.’ With the ups and downs, I wasn’t even planning on rodeoing. Stuff came together, and he literally called it shot for shot. He said everything that happened. When I flew home to him, him and his family, I got to be with them. He told them, he made his mom and dad promise to be here. They’re here, they were here tonight. You were just as big a part of it as anybody. Cody changed my life, and he made me try hard. When I started back roping, the stuff he’s been through and what I’ve seen, there’s no sense in me ever weakening. I just kept pushing kept pushing kept pushing. Honestly, I never lost faith in having a chance. When I missed in the seventh round, I thought I’d let us down. After last night, literally I didn’t even know. Then today I thought this happened for a reason. Every story y’all have wrote has been a piece of my puzzle with him and his family. As much love as he had for roping, and wanted to be a part of this. His mom posted last night or today, that one of the last chemo treatments he told her, ‘Mom when we get back I need to go get a sports coat.’ She was like ‘Why?’ He said ‘Cause I’m going to need it when I walk across that stage with Colby.’ He told me that. The whole time he told me. I’m very fortunate. He changed—he did a lot for me. Paul and his family, him, this is huge for me.
CS: This time last year, we were in Las Vegas and Cody was riding your horse Bartender in the #14.5 Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale.
CL: It’s crazy. You know, Bartender is A LOT of horse. He is a LOT of horse. And he wants to go. Victory laps the last two nights, he literally ran off with me. And he’ll move in the box a little bit, and do some stuff. But in December when Cody got on him, even in the practice pen, I mean, just watching Bartender’s expression—he literally—I could watch him and I knew that that horse knew. All of my dogs when Cody would be there, you know my dogs aren’t the friendliest—they all would come up to him. So, that horse he’s done awesome for me the last two years. He’s almost the only horse I’ve rode. I got him back, hell, the first rodeo I rode him back was the night I met Cody’s dad. I promise. I got him back the day before, and I went to the rodeo in Louisiana. Cody’s dad stepped over the fence and came back there. He said, “Man, my name’s…”
CS: Paul, did you get to meet Cody?
PE: Yes ma’am I did. I met him at The American. That was the only time I got to meet him. He was not doing as good then, and I was glad I was able to meet him. He got to see Colby do good there, but I didn’t get to know him as good as I would have liked to.
CS: Phew. Changing gears, Paul—before the round started tonight, I got a call that said I’m supposed to ask you who trained your horse. I mean, you already said she read your throw, so are you blaming that on Junior too?
PE: Junior said that?! I’m not saying she did bad. She was probably trying to help me. It’s not like she did wrong. She did good.
CL: I’d liked to have pushed you off that stool when you said that.
PE: That steer come left. It needed a big finish.
CL: You’re digging yourself a hole.
PE: No, no I’m serious.
CL: That mare did awesome.
PE: The night that we won second, a really good horse would know when to help you, when to be tight, when to be free, when to punch, peddle through, help you. She did do that this week. There was one, I didn’t do a very good job with my rope, and she punched and got the slack out and help me. A normal run, that wouldn’t be very good necessarily. But she knew what to do. And right there it was almost the same deal. If she was free and let me push in over the steer, it probably would have been too long. You know, those horses that know, I don’t know what makes them do it and some of them do it and some don’t.
CS: This is going to be the second world title you’ve won on your backup horse. When I asked you for your horse’s papers at the end of the season, you said, ‘Yeah but the papers I send you aren’t going to be the one I ride at the Finals.’ But you sent me her papers.
PE: Me and that mare’s had some ups and downs this year. And just kind of finally, at the roping in Oklahoma that me and Colby won, a few days before that, we kind of got on the same page. It’s just gotten better ever since.
CS: What were the problems you were having with her?
PE: The biggest thing is that she’s fast, she’s big, athletic, strong, but she didn’t give it to me every time. It’s like she would give me about 80% half the time. Everybody that’d watch, our buddies Kollin (VonAhn), whoever, they’d be like ‘She looks great! I don’t know what more you’d want?’ And I’d just say it’s just not right. So the next round I did some stuff, and the next night it got better and it just kept getting better.
CS: You told me last night that you’d been in this spot before, and you didn’t do your homework and just went at it and didn’t do what you needed to do. How was tonight different?
CL: I just, the last time I was in the 10th round, the maturity level as a team roper and me, it wasn’t all there. And that’s why I felt like I went home, it just wasn’t all there. This, from day one, this has been the goal. And I never thought of it like that before. Literally, that’s all I’ve thought about. Tonight, when I roped, that steer went left, I knew, I just told myself I usually would reach but I said I’m a get a little loop, and I’m going right to him and let Bartender run and let him do everything and Paul throw fast and if it’s fast enough it’s fast enough. When I faced I couldn’t tell. And I turned around and looked up, and when it said 4.4 I about fell off my horse.
PE: Me too.
CL: I am not kidding. I was that happy. When I got back over here, I literally thought I was going to faint. I’m not kidding. I’ve never felt like that.
CS: That was one of the best reactions I’ve seen in the arena in forever. It was like it was a ‘knowing’ reaction.
PE: It wasn’t knowing!
CL: It wasn’t knowing. It was just the point of…
PE: We won three rounds, and we did…
CL: We did everything, fought back. We won those three rounds. We did everything.
PE: Get it done, for that night.
CL: I literally had done the pencil work for that situation. That’s the only situation I looked at. When we got in the back, I was like ‘I hope we won it.’
PE: They didn’t come up with anything. People were coming up, and saying ‘Yeah!’ They flashed it that we did, but they didn’t show anything, I never saw it on there actually.
CS: Can you compare this to your first gold buckle Paul?
PE: It’s just different. The way we did it, just completely, you know. In 2018, we missed the first one and then we just kind of picked away at them and won good all through the rounds. And this time, it was just big expectations at first, and then we didn’t do good for a little bit there, but then you don’t want to say you don’t have a chance, but, like Colby said, you’re just going to do the best you can do. I don’t guess it really changes how you rope, but after the eighth round, actually, I lie. After the eighth round I thought if we could win the last two I think we’ll have a chance is what I thought. You know how that is. I’ve thought that a million times and been wrong, too.
CS: Yeah like Allen Bach did that once, but it doesn’t really happen.
PE: Right it just doesn’t happen. But, it’s just crazy how it all happened.
CS: So what’s the celebration going to be? Hog hunting?
CL: That’s what my dad said, he said ‘WHAT YOU DOING NEXT WEEK?!’ I said you probably know!
CS: When they couldn’t find you for these interviews, I sent our friends a snapchat that the whole media staff was looking for Colby and Paul, and everyone snapped me back ‘They’re probably hog hunting!’
CL: That ain’t no lie.
CS: Well guys, congratulations. TRJ