Chris Avery and Sara Pascoe’s annual reunion at the Reno Rodeo Invitational Ladies Only Roping was a fun and fruitful one.
The team’s fourth annual roping get-together on June 23 at the Reno Livestock Events Center was a sweet one for the pair of California girls, who rope together once a year every June like clockwork.
Avery and Pascoe roped four steers in 45.88 seconds for the $20,000 win, Bob Marcellus saddles, Gist buckles, Team Equine saddle pads, Resistol hats, Roger’s Cowboy Supply travel packs and USTRC national shootouts.
After entering the short round in the fifth position, Avery and Pascoe—who actually met for the first time the day of the first-ever RRI Ladies Only four years ago—didn’t dream of a trip to the winners circle at the 115-team roping. When they made a solid, 10.05-second run on their last steer, they rode out of the arena, uncinched their horses and headed for the water trough, content to have finished on a consistent note. Winning it all never crossed their minds.
Then the next three heelers missed. And in a heart breaker reminiscent of Travis Tryan losing his rope on the high-team steer for Michael Jones at the Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping Classic two days earlier, RRI Ladies Only high-team heeler Melia O’Halloran hammered two feet for Casey Yates on their last one and lost her rope. It was a devastating way to end the day for the only heeler who roped two feet on every steer. Fellow heeler Pascoe’s sentiments—"Melia roped her butt off today, so I feel really bad for her"—were unanimous.
Then it started to sink in for Avery and Pascoe. They were the champs of both the short round and the average. "This is the biggest win I’ve ever had," said Avery, 58, who lives with her husband, Monty, in Aromas. Their daughter, Fallon, also ropes up a storm and competes every year in the RRI Ladies Only. "It’s hard to beat the payout at this roping. They’re very generous with the payout and the prizes here."
That this was the biggest win of Avery’s career is no small feat. As BFI heeler Joseph Shawnego pointed out when he rode up during the champs’ interview to congratulate her, Avery is the only woman ever to earn fast-time bragging rights at the Oakdale 10-Steer.
Avery, a 4 Elite header in the USTRC, owns 101 Livestock Supply, which is the feed store at the 101 Livestock Market in Aromas. "Sara and I rope once a year—here—every year. We never practice together. The first year we placed in the three-steer. We ended up fifth (in the four-steer) in 2008, and third last year. This roping has been really good to us."
This is a pair of realists who understand you get out of things what you put into them, so they don’t show up in Reno with any grand delusions or great expectations. "We enjoy roping together, and there’s no pressure," Avery smiled. "It’s ‘You rope your end, I’ll rope mine and we’ll see what happens.’ I love roping with Sara. She’s the nicest kid, and she’s always cheerful, no matter what happens. Who ropes three times a year and can rope like that?"
Sara is Sean and Julie Pascoe’s 28-year-old twin to brother Ryan. Sara and Ryan’s little brother, Bear, just played his rookie season for the National Football League’s New York Giants. Sara, who’s a USTRC No. 4 heeler, is a correctional officer at Corcoran State Prison. Her day job as a guard at the maximum-security prison leaves little time for team roping practice, and provides plenty of perspective on life.
"I don’t rope much," said Sara, who lives in Terra Bella, Calif. "I only go to about three ropings a year, and this is the only one where I get to rope with Chris. All I wanted to do in the short round is catch my steer and rope two feet. Being the fifth high call, we were five seconds out of first going into the short round, so we just had to make the best run we could make and let everything else take care of itself.
"I like roping with Chris, because she handles steers so perfectly. She gives me no excuse to miss. Chris is the best partner ever. She’s fun to rope with, because she doesn’t put any pressure on you. She’s easygoing, and this is always a fun day. I am so happy and excited. I didn’t care where we placed, I just wanted to rope two feet for Chris."
In addition to winning the short round, which paid them an additional $2,000, and the average, Avery and Pascoe placed third in round two with an 8.36-second run for another $1,000. They were clean on their second and fourth steers, and had a leg on steers one and three. Avery rode her horse Bay, who’s 19. "I’m lucky, I always have a good horse," she said. "I give half or more of the credit to him. I’m still riding him at 19, because I don’t want to get off of him."
Pascoe rode a bay horse by the name of Boss (his registered name is Rips Cow Boss), 15, that her family raised. He packs the P/5 brand on his left hip. "All three of us kids got a colt to start that year," Sara said. "They were our first ones, and I’ve never ridden anything else since. Boss never bucked, even when I started him. He’s the easiest guy."
Lots of ladies tie on, but Pascoe—like O’Halloran—chooses to dally. "I’ve always felt like if I was going to rope with the guys, I want to rope like the guys," Pascoe said. "And I don’t want to get in a wreck being tied on."
Pascoe couldn’t be sure which was sweeter—the money or the prizes. Every girl who entered this year’s RRI Ladies Only received a Cactus rope bag, Wrangler gift certificate, D-Bar-M gift certificate, Pro Equine bell boots and a Roger’s Cowboy Supply coupon.
"This is my first saddle ever," Sara smiled. "I’ve always wanted to win a saddle, so that’s pretty special. And I need to buy a house, so this cash is going in the house fund. This is definitely my biggest win ever. I grew up on a ranch, so I roped in the branding corral before I did the arena."
But when they take it to the arena, all hats are off to the level RRI playing field.
"(RRI Producer) Perry (Di Loreto) makes sure we rope good steers, and keeps the score short enough where we can’t get into too much trouble," Avery said. "I love this building. There are just some places where you’re lucky, and your horse likes them too. This has been a great arena for me.
"This is so exciting. I felt like I was at the BFI. I’m roping with my peers, and at my age I’m one of the old timers, so it’s extra exciting. I want to thank my girl (Sara). I’m thrilled—totally pumped. It’s been a long time since my last big win.
"This is fantastic. The older you get, the more special it is to win. You keep thinking, ‘Maybe I’m past it.’ "
"I go to three ropings a year, so I don’t have many to compare this to," Pascoe added. "This is such a fun day. All these girls are glad to be here, and we’re all rooting each other on. We have a good time, and the payoff is great. There are so many different ways you can win at this roping."
By roping four steers in 49.46 seconds, Amber Gould and Debbie Robbins finished second in the 2010 RRI Ladies Only and cashed checks totaling $10,000. Former Miss Rodeo America Debbie Garrison and Martha Walters were third in 52.84 seconds for $5,000. Tami Rodman and Kelley Pile, who stopped the clock four times in 62.17 seconds and were the last of only four teams to rope all four steers, left town $4,750 richer.
Pascoe wasn’t kidding about the many ways to win at the RRI Ladies Only. Every team makes a short round at this roping, even if you missed all three steers in the long rounds. Tara Iverson Nab and Amy Lowry won the one-steer average with 7.39 seconds on one for $1,250. Pam Wilken and Jody Gundermann topped the two-steer average in 15.87 seconds and won $2,000. Tammy Ellerman and Jimmi Jo Montera were the three-steer average winners, roping three in 25.92 seconds, which was good for $3,250.
Then there were the go-round winners. Besides darlings of the short round Avery and Pascoe, three teams drew checks in each round. Melinda McDaniel and Kim Grubbs took round one with a 7.90-second run for $1,500. Sammy Jo Fernlund and Julianne Hutchins Funk won the second round in 6.84 seconds, which was the fastest of the roping. Jordan Jo Fabrizio and her mom, Debbie, won round three in 7.48 seconds.
The 2010 Reno Rodeo Invitational Ladies Only was sponsored by Wrangler, Team Equine, Bob Marcellus/Windmill Tack, Gist Silversmiths, Montana Silversmiths, Heel-O-Matic, D-Bar-M, Bob Scott Saddlery, Silver Legacy, Resistol, Pro Equine, Priefert, Cactus Ropes and Roger’s Cowboy Supply.