Junior Nogueira, the defending Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association all-around champion, grew up in Brazil with dreams of winning major roping shows in North America.
One of those majors was the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping, the renowned show that traditionally draws the sport’s elite to north Fort Worth during the Memorial Day Weekend.
On Friday, Nogueira’s dreams became real. He and eight-time Wrangler National Finals qualifier Luke Brown of Stephenville clinched the men’s team roping title as the 44th annual Ryon Roping began its three-day run at the Ryon Arena.
“Before I came here, I had a dream of winning this roping,” Nogueira said. “This is a big one.”
When the title was at stake in the final round, Nogueira and Brown turned in a clutch time of 7.31 seconds and lassoed the title with an aggregate time of 38.51 on five runs. Three-time world champion Clay Tryan and his partner Jake Long finished second at 39.05. Trevor Brazile, the 13-time world all-around champion from Decatur, and Travis Graves finished third with 39.58.
In ladies team roping, Kenzie Andrus and Jessy Remsburg clinched the title with a four-run time of 40.73.
Nogueira, 26, grew up in a Brazilian rodeo family. His father, the late Lucinei Nogueira, was an accomplished tie-down roper. His mother, Eliziane, is a breakaway roper and a team roping header.
Nogueira began roping when he was 4 and competing in Brazil’s pro ranks at 14. In Brazil, rodeos draw large crowds and organizers give away attention-grabbing prizes. Nogueira said he earned “nine cars, 54 motorcycles and two horse trailers” at Brazilian rodeos.
But Brazilians view North America’s top pro circuits as the world’s best.
Nogueira got a big break in 2013 when he was introduced to seven-time PRCA world champion Jake Barnes through a mutual friend a week before the 2013 NFR. The two decided to rope together during the 2014 season and they qualified for the NFR.
Nogueira finished seventh in the PRCA’s team roping header world title race after earning $136,036 in 2014. He also was PRCA 2014 Resistol Team Roping Heeler Rookie of the Year.
In 2015, Nogueira partnered with JoJo LeMond at the NFR after Barnes sustained an injury. After placing in eight of the 10 rounds, Nogueira finished fourth in the world standings with $198,737.
Last year, Nogueira finished second in PRCA’s team roping heeling title race. He and Kaleb Driggers finished in the money in six rounds at the NFR. But after the dust settled at the Las Vegas championship, Nogueira, who also earned prize money in tie-down roping last year, finished No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2016 all-around title race.
Nogueira edged Clayton Hass of Weatherford, $231,728 to $228,017, to become the first Brazilian to win a PRCA title.
Nogueira views himself as very fortunate.
“I’m very, very blessed,” Nogueira said. “God has been great in my life and I’m very thankful for all of the people that He’s put in my way.”