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Arp duo wins Team Rodeo Championship

STEPHENVILLE – Two local ropers were big winners during the United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) East Texas Championships held February 18–20 in Athens at the Henderson County Fairgrounds. Rowdy and Sissy L. Rieken of Arp were the winners in the #12 Gold Plus division defeating 661 other teams. The duo roped 4 steers in 37.14 seconds to earn a $3,174 paycheck from the $11,543 total purse along with a custom Martin trophy saddles.

The East Texas Championship is one among more than 300 USTRC sanctioned and affiliated events to take place throughout the United States, including Hawaii, in 2011. A total of 951 teams from 14 states and Alberta competed in the event as more than $143,000 was paid to more than 430 ropers. In addition, ropers saw winners take home eight Martin trophy saddles and 29 Gist Silversmiths trophy buckles, in addition to more than $160,000 in Flex Earnings to qualify them for the prized Regional and National Final Shoot Out position.

Sanctioned events, such as the East Texas Championships, give team ropers an opportunity to qualify for the premier team roping events in the nation – the USTRC Regional Finals Series and the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping. Offering an estimated combined total of $2 million in cash and prizes, Regional Finals events are a stepping-stone leading to the USTRC Cinch National Finals of Team Roping in Oct. 22-30 in Oklahoma City, Okla. An estimated purse of more than $4 million in cash and prizes will be on the table for the taking at the event expected to attract more than 7,000 teams.

Team roping is a timed event that requires a team effort. A team is made up of a“header” and a “heeler.” The header’s job is to catch the steer around the horns, and then set it up by turning it across the arena. The heeler then rides in and ropes the steer around both hind legs. The clock is stopped when the steer is secured between both ropers and their horses are facing each other.

Much like in the sport of golf, ropers are handicapped or receive a classification rating based on their skill level and competitive ability. Ropers can be classified from a #1 to a #10, depending on their roping position and ability. The added total of both roping partners’ handicaps determines their division eligibility. For example, if the division is a #11, the total rating for both ropers cannot equal more than 11, with some divisions requiring a handicap floor.

The United States Team Roping Championships, headquartered in Stephenville, is the official home of America’s Cowboy Sport, representing more than 35,000 competitive team ropers across the country. USTRC brings the sport of team roping to the national stage by providing competition with integrity as the trusted source of team roping competition rules and classifications. USTRC events paid out more than $20 million in 2010 to team ropers from all walks of life.

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The Overton Press is published weekly by East Texas Community Newspapers.