Since its humble beginnings in the mid-1970s, the Fort Worth-based Windy Ryon Memorial Roping has commanded respect for featuring the sports elite.
It certainly lived up to that billing Saturday. Caleb Smidt, the 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tie-down roping world champion who’s currently No. 1 in the 2017 world all-around title race, clinched the 40-man Invitational Tie-Down Roping title.
If that wasn’t enough, Marty Yates of Stephenville, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who’s No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2017 tie-down roping standings, won the traditional match competition. He edged former NFR qualifier Justin Maass.
The Ryon Roping will conclude its three-day run Sunday afternoon. Trevor Brazile, the 23-time PRCA world champion from Decatur, is among an array of world class competitors scheduled to compete in the Invitational Steer Roping.
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During Saturday’s match roping, Maass had a commanding 8.95-second lead over Yates after seven of the eight rounds. All Maass had to do was make a solid run to win, but he turned in a sluggish time of 42.56 after catching his calf at the far back corner of the sprawling arena on a third loop.
Then, all Yates had to do was post a time of 33.60 or better to finish No. 1. But he also looked like he might let the title slip away after missing on his first loop. He caught on a second loop, was fast on the ground, and turned in a 19.44.
It was a hard fought battle. It didn’t go very good for either one of us.
Marty Yates of Stephenville
After a match where fans witnessed four lead changes, Yates edged Maass 129.73 to 115.56.
After the match concluded, longtime Ryon Roping announcer Curt Robinson told the crowd, “They’ve had more trouble on eight calves today than their last 80 calves.”
Though it wasn’t pretty, Yates received the $5,000 winner-take-all prize.
“It was a hard fought battle,” Yates said. “It didn’t go very good for either one of us.”
Smidt clinched the Invitational Tie-Down title with a three-run time of 27.78. Maass finished second with a 28.09, Timber Moore was third with a 28.38 and Seth Cook fourth with a 29.18.
In women’s breakaway roping, Madisen Goforth clinched the title with a three-run time of 9.52. She’s a former North Texas High School Rodeo Association all-around champion.
PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman, who has stood at the helm of the world’s most prominent pro rodeo organization for almost nine years, announced that he will retire Dec. 31, shortly after the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Under Stressman’s leadership, the PRCA signed a record $175 million contract that keeps the NFR in Las Vegas through 2024. When the contract was under negotiation, Las Vegas, Dallas and the Orlando, Fla., area battled to host the NFR. Las Vegas, which began hosting the event in 1985, eventually won and was granted another 10 years.
It has been an amazing run, but certainly not without a few battle scars.
Retiring PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman
Stressman also played a major role in negotiating a television agreement with CBS Sports Network through 2019.
“I sat down in the commissioner’s chair for the first time in September 2008, and I made a promise to myself that I would give my very best efforts each and every day to improve the sport of professional rodeo,” Stressman said. “I made myself another promise that I would stay at the PRCA as long as I enjoyed the job.”
Stressman’s job has been rough recently. Last year, he led the PRCA in a court battle against the debuting Elite Rodeo Athletes tour.
The ERA petitioned for its stockholders to be allowed to compete on the ERA and PRCA circuits at the same time. But the PRCA ruled to the contrary and gained an upper hand in a Dallas courtroom in the beginning stages of the lawsuit. The ERA dropped the lawsuit and is not conducting a tour this year, though there’s talk that the ERA might resume next year.
“It has been an amazing run, but certainly not without a few battle scars,” Stressman said.
Two Brazilian cowboys from Decatur are ranked 1-2 in the Professional Bull Riders’ world title race. Eduardo Aparecido is No. 1 with 3,015 points, while Kaique Pacheco is second with 2,835. Pacheco won the PBR’s Last Cowboy Standing title in Las Vegas on May 13 and earned $150,100.