PENDLETON — When Christy Loflin ran her horse in the Pendleton Round-Up Arena pattern Monday, during the first slack performance of the week, she felt a little overwhelmed. It was the first time she was seeing something like the Pendleton monster cloverleaf.
“I had no idea. You hear rumors and you hear stories and you kind of have to decipher all of that,” Loflin said. “I’d heard of it; I’d just been to scared to come.”
She finished that run in 28.84 seconds. On Saturday, Loflin did one better. She ran a 28.80-second pattern and then won the overall title.
Loflin, of Franktown, Colo., entered the short-go final round with the second-best time of the week, despite having never raced on the grass at the Round-Up. The barrel pattern, which is close to three times the size of a normal dirt arena setup, wasn’t as daunting of an obstacle to conquer as she’d tought.
Her first-round time earned her $3,901.36. As the average winner, she got another $4,552 to go with her second-round $963.
“I’m sitting on the bubble for the NFR and this was kind of a last-ditch effort because it’s the biggest paying rodeo this end of the year,” she said. “It was kind of a gamble.”
Loflin was in 21st in the barrel racing standings before her win, but just $8,000 back from the No. 15 and final spot for the rodeo.
First-round leader Kim Schulze, who entered the final go with a 28.77 time, failed to finish her run Saturday as her horse lost track of the second barrel and pulled up out of the race.
She won $4,551.59 in the first round, but missed out on a payday in the average.
Steer Wrestling: Three cowboys separated themselves from the group in the short-go final round of steer wrestling Saturday at the Pendleton Round-Up. With the top three cowboys in aggregate times still to go, the leaderboard was wide open for the taking.
Nick Guy leapt from his horse, tackling the steer in 5.5 seconds to take the lead. But then Wyatt Smith topped that in 5.3 seconds as the new leader. His total time of 16.2 on three steers meant the final man, Todd Suhn, would need a sub-six second time to leave Pendleton as a champion for the second time in his career.
Under six? No problem for the aggregate leader after two rounds.
“Man I just wanted to do my job,” said Suhn, of Hermosa, S.D. “I’ve been in that position three times (in Pendleton) where I was high calling and I never have won it. I’ve placed or went out of it because so many things can happen.”
Suhn dropped 5.1 seconds, the fastest time of the short-go and third fastest of the weekend — behind one of his 4.8-second gos in the opener. He won $6,579 Saturday, giving him a grand total of more than $11,500 for the week.
His added time equalled a 15.4 aggregate score, ahead of Smith’s 16.2.
And all of that while wrestling on a recently broken ankle.
Suhn fractured the ankle in July when a horse ran into his leg during a run. The injury plummeted him down the PRCA standings but a huge win in Pendleton should help restore some of that, he said.
“It’s been a rough summer,” he said. “I was in the Top 15 then and now I’m back down around 15th. I just needed to win something so you’re definitely going to come to Pendleton. It’s the last big hurrah for the year.”
Suhn also won the event in 2007 and is a former all-around champion. He was in 13th place before Saturday’s big paycheck, just inside the cutoff for making the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Team Roping: The Pendleton Round-Up team roping championship wasn’t foreign to Russell Cardoza. But it was to his partner Colby Lovell.
The first-year roping pair finished off the week with a 5.8-second run in the short-go final round to cap a championship performance. The duo had entered the last day in second for the aggregate on two heads of cattle.
“Like I told Russell, you hear about this rodeo since you’re 7, 8 years old,” said Lovell, the header from Madisonville, Texas. “In my third year to come back here, and I worked with my grandpa on the ranch roping on grass, it doesn’t spook me. I enjoy it.”
The key to a successful run in Pendleton is knowing how to handle the grass infield, Cardoza said. Ropers need to get on it fast.
“It helps out here to have a good start because if you’re behind (the steer) and late, they just think they can outrun you so they run even faster,” the Terrebonne roper said. “But if you’re on top of them, they slow down a little bit.”
Lovell and Cardoza beat out Kaleb Driggers and Jade Corkill for the top spot after both teams came into Saturday’s action tied for the second-place aggregate lead through two rounds with 12.5. Driggers and Corkill used 6.8 seconds to wrap up their animal, finishing in second for the average.
The top group of Lovell and Cardoza won $11,238 in the event for the week, including $7,218 for Saturday’s final round and average.
Cardoza entered the Round-Up in 12th place in the season standings for heelers but should get a boost with his winnings in Pendleton. Lovell ranked eighth before the first-place win.
The second-place ropers walked away with $6,379 for their short-go efforts.
All-around champion at the Round-Up Trevor Brazile and his partner Patrick Smith had the low time in the round at 5.7 seconds, but finished in fourth after starting the round with an aggregate of 16.2 seconds.
Steer roping: Of the 12 ropers in the short-go Saturday, Coy Thompson was symmetrically situated in the middle. His 33.4 seconds of aggregate times on two heads in the steer roping left him 3.2 seconds behind the leader and 3.2 seconds ahead of the low man.
From his seventh-place position, Thompson wasn’t getting himself too worked up before the final round with hopes and dreams of winning the Pendleton Round-Up. Most winners don’t come from that far back.
He’d need a lot of help.
“I didn’t know about winning it,” he said. “I knew if I’d just tie one down I’d have a good chance at placing. That was my gameplan, just tie one down and see what happens.”
Thompson’s 14-flat tie put him in first overall with six cowboys left to go. The next two ropers saw their tries run long and the ensuing four — the four best from the two opening rounds — each failed to finish a tie.
Just making it to the short-go can lead to much, much more. Just ask Thompson.
“It’s been a long week hanging out all week, but it turns out it’s worth it,” the Whitewood, S.D., competitor said. “It’s a fun, fun rodeo. This is cowboy stuff out on the grass.”
Thompson won the rodeo in his third try at Pendleton, netting just under $7,000 — surpassing his entire winnings total from the season up to this point. He came into Pendleton with just $6,255 in banked checks.
The big payday won’t do much good when it comes to NFR placings. The cowboy is too far out of the running to get to the finals — he had just cracked the Top 50 into 47th place before the Round-Up rodeo. But the Pendleton check does rocket him up the ranks by more than 20 spots.
Joe Wells was the week’s No. 2 with his 15.5 time Saturday, leaving him at 27.8 to Thompson’s 47.4 overall total.
All-around champ Trevor Brazille, the No. 1 ranked steer roper in the PRCA, failed to tie in the event. His horse, a borrowed ride, didn’t stop running after the steer went down under the initial lasso.
“That’s just part of it, as if the Pendleton Round-Up’s not intimidating enough, I was like a new rider,” said Brazile, of Decatur, Texas. “It’s just one of those deals.”
Tie-Down Roping: Possibly the most trying moment of Saturday’s Pendleton Round-Up short-go for Houston Hutto came long after he’d tied down his calf for the aggregate championship. Behind the bucking chutes, as he climbed onto a horse sporting his championship trophy saddle, his unfamiliar ride was not in the mood for a victory lap.
The horse reared up, nearly bucking the rider before he could even get into the arena. But once there, the lap around looked as smooth as his tie-down roping run.
“I’m more tired from that victory lap than I was from roping,” he said. “That’s a workout. He about lost me one time over there and thank goodness he didn’t.”
Hutto’s run followed that of Ryan Jarrett, who moved close to an arena record with an 8.1 second tie. But Hutto had the edge on him coming in from the first two rounds’ average. With 8.5 seconds, his total came out at 28.1 on three heads of cattle. Jarrett finished at 28.3.
The arena record remains, though, at 7.7 seconds.
It was a win that Hutto, a Tomball, Texas, roper, needed to help his NFR cause moving forward.
“I’ve been here about 10 times and I never won it,” he said. “I came in here about 15th in the world before today and I needed to win.”
Twelfth is actually where the cowboy ranked before his Pendleton win, but his season total of $60,901 was less than $600 from the 16th spot and missing the cut for the national finals. He’s in a little better shape thanks to the calves at the Round-Up.
The final-round performance netted the roper $6,550. His total haul from the week topped $9,000.
Jarrett, out of Comanche, Okla., was the one who needed the most help. He was the true No. 15 in the standings, the last spot with an NFR invitation. He won $9,582 in Pendleton.
Trevor Brazile came into the short-go with the top time of 18.8 on two calves, but a 10.3-second final round left him in third place overall. His $10,763 week-long total in the tie-down event helped him go on to win the Round-Up’s all-around title.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.