Hoffman: Texas Tech cowboys win team roping title

In the world of rodeo, athletes are allowed to compete in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at the same time.


One cowboy who commands respect on both circuits is team roper Wesley Thorp who attends Texas Tech.

Thorp competed in last week’s College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. He also competed at the PRCA’s 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

At the 2017 College National Finals on Saturday, Thorp and his partner, Cole Wheeler, who also is a Texas Tech student, clinched the team roping title.

When the title was at stake in Saturday’s final round, Wheeler and Thorp turned in a time of 5.9 seconds. That enabled them to clinch the average title with a four-run time of 25.2 seconds.

Thorp and Wheeler also won the NIRA’s team roping title last year during the 2016 College National Finals in Casper. At the time, Thorp, a heeler, was competing for Ranger College, and Wheeler, a header, was competing for Weatherford College. After clinching the 2016 NIRA title, Thorp and Wheeler transferred to Texas Tech.

On the PRCA circuit, Thorp is making headway in his attempt to return to the Las Vegas-based National Finals. He was ranked fifth in last weekend’s 2017 team roping heeling world title race with $48,484 in regular season earnings.

In the barrel racing title race at the 2017 College National Finals, Hailey Kinsel of Texas A&M clinched the title. Earlier this year, she commanded respect when she snared the barrel racing title at the RFD-TVs The American while competing against the world’s top professional riders. She earned $433,333 during the Feb. 19 show at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Oklahoma Panhandle State clinched the men’s team title at last weekend’s CNFR. Sam Houston State claimed the women’s team title.

Lane McGehee of Sam Houston State earned both the bareback riding and men’s rookie titles at the CNFR. Rickie Engesser of Gillette College clinched the women’s rookie title.

Cole Frey of McNeese State finished as the men’s all-around champion. Loni Lester of Sam Houston State clinched both the women’s all-around buckle and the break-away roping titles.

Other champions were tie-down Roper Reid Zapalac, Tarleton State; saddle bronc rider Preston Burr, New Mexico Junior College; steer wrestler Denver Berry, Southeastern Oklahoma State; goat tier Tawny Barry, Eastern New Mexico; and bull rider–Cole Melancon, Hill College.

PBR update

On the Professional Bull Riders’ circuit, some of the sport’s top riders were in Bismarck, N.D., during the past weekend.

During the Friday performance, Derek Kolbaba (of Walla Walla, Wash.) earned the title after turning in an 89.5 during the final round on BC Circular Insanity ( Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/H&C Bucking Bulls ). It was Kolbaba’s second PBR victory in a row after winning the PBR Monster Energy Canada Tour International Major in Quebec City, Quebec, on June 2.

Kolbaba, the world’s No. 3 ranked bull rider, also finished second overall during the Saturday night performance in Bismarck.He turned in a 89.5 in the first round on Beast of Burden ( Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/H&C Bucking Bulls), but he was bucked off in the final round. Brennon Eldred (Sulphur, Okla.) clinched the title after turning in a 91 during the final round on Cooper Tires Brown Sugar (Dakota Rodeo/Julie Rosen/Clay Struve/Chad Berger).

The Bismarck show was part of the PBR’s 2017 Velocity Tour, which will culminate with the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals at South Point Arena in Las Vegas on Oct. 28-30. The Velocity Tour Finals leads into the PBR’s Built Ford Tough World Finals, which is scheduled for Nov. 1-5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

High school update

Shelby Espenson of Hart clinched the barrel racing title at the Texas High School Rodeo Association Finals on June 10 in Abilene after earning 56 points throughout the regular season and the state finals. Espenson will advance to the July 16-22 National High School Rodeo Association Finals in Gillette, Wyo.

Carly Christian of Amarillo finished fifth in the barrel racing title race at the Abilene finals.

In the bull riding title race, Dalton Kasel of Muleshoe finished third after earning 35 points. Ross Freeman of Kountze clinched the title after earning 59 points.

In pole bending, Reagan Jordan of Lubbock finished second with 49 points. Reagan Davis of Alto finished first with 63.

In girl’s cutting, Paydon Hooper of Andrews finished fourth with 40.5 points. Sheridan Clark of Weatherford finished No. 1 with 68.5.

In the money

On the PRCA circuit, Audy Reed of Spearman who is attempting to earn his first NFR berth, clinched the saddle bronc riding title the Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo. Reed entered last week’s Big Spring rodeo ranked sixth in the saddle bronc world standings (released June 12) with $44,942.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.