Parity is a term thrown around in sports circles a lot these days. Basically, it means equality. In sports, it means that any team, or at least many teams, have a legitimate chance at being successful. And while many of the nation's major sports leagues are striving for it, parity is alive and well in team roping. While over the course of a season, the cream does rise to the top, at a roping like the 2005 Roper US Open held during USTRC's National Finals of Team Roping parity thrives.
In October, teams like Kevin Stewart and Martin Lucero, Steve Purcell and Britt Bockius, Matt Tyler and Clay O'Brien Cooper, Travis Tryan and Allen Bach and Jake Barnes and Kory Koontz all nodded their head for a shot at nearly $260,000.
But in the end, the duo of Matt Sherwood of Queen Creek, Ariz., and Travis Graves of Pryor, Okla., walked out of the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City with all the marbles.
Sherwood, who switches ends with ease, headed for Graves in the five-round plus a final roping. They roped six head in 43.01 seconds and split $78,600. Mikey Fletcher and Cole Bigbee were second by more than two seconds. Sherwood and Graves roped their sixth and final-round steer in 7.45 seconds.
"I try to not think about the lights being on and the music blaring," said Sherwood. "I just try to go out and make the same type of run I made on the first five steers. I was real aggressive. I got about a coil away and just roped him and tried to give a good handle and give Travis a chance to get him roped if it came together good, or if it didn't, he'd have plenty of time to look him over and make sure he caught him. It worked, I'm real happy about it."
For Sherwood, it was one of the few high points in a season of struggles. The other high point came in March when he won the Dodge National Circuit Finals title heeling for Rube Woolsey.
"It was a long summer on the road," said Sherwood. "Those are two things that are great to win so I feel real blessed to win them both, much less in the same year."
For Graves, the win was perhaps the beginning of fulfilling his potential. For years, he had been the young darling of the USTRC Finals, with expectations of his future sky high. For whatever reason, it hadn't come together for the young roper until the US Finals.
"It's great roping with Matt," said Graves who called and asked Sherwood to partner up with him. "He got it on them so fast today it was just like he said, I had time to look them over and just catch. If they weren't good, I could take a couple swings. I was thinking, Just do what I always do and just catch."
Indeed, that's what they did, proving that at any given roping, almost anyone in the top 50 or so can be the hero.
No. 15 Shoot-Out Champions
Coming into the No. 15 Shoot-Out Finals as the seventh high-call, Colter Todd didn't have any grandiose ideas of winning the average. He thought that winning $2,000 would make the drive from Marana, Ariz., worth it, but was hoping to cash in for about $8,000.
He and partner Ryan Powell of Caldwell, Idaho, hadn't drawn a good steer all day, and as he watched the steers in the final round breaking hard, Todd couldn't help but be a little pessimistic.
Powell, on the other hand, knew they were due.
"We never drew any good steers and I said, 'Man we've got to draw better than this,'" recalled Todd. "He (Powell) said, 'We will.' And he was right. I thought I broke the barrier but I thought if we could be 10 on him we could still win enough money to make it worthwhile. I was blessed that I didn't break the barrier and that we had that good of a steer. That was the only steer in the herd that was that good. Everything was running and I expected him to run too."
When he didn't, Todd did his part and Powell scooped up the heels to stop the clock in 5.89 seconds.
"I tried to block out all the loud noises and big money and rope the steer for what he was," said Powell. "We drew four hard running steers and we got a great break and drew a great steer. I didn't do anything special. Colter got in on that steer real good and handled him nice and I just heeled him like I try to heel all the others."
Then the duo watched as team after team ahead of them in the average went out; either by breaking the barrier or getting out-run, until they were the last men standing-but just barely. The second place team of Anthony Calmelat and Scott Elliott were only .13 seconds behind Todd and Powell's average-winning time of 38.74 seconds on five head.
Todd and Powell hadn't ever roped together outside the practice pen, but had become friends when Todd stayed at Powell's during the Caldwell and Nampa rodeos.
"I won a regional shoot out with John Stafford in Utah," said Powell. "Then we went to Winnemuca, Nev., and won fourth there. When the hurricane hit, John went down there to work as an insurance adjuster. He said, 'Man, I've got to go,' so he did and I had this open spot. Colter and I have been friends and he just ropes outstanding, so I called him, he was the first one I called."
Asked if Stafford will be able to earn as much working in the Gulf region as Powell just had, he simply replied, "I don't know, but John's going to have to work harder."
While both Powell and Todd had to work hard and rope smart to earn their title, the 2005 No. 15 wasn't Todd's first trip to the Winner's Circle. Two years ago he won the No. 9 average heeling on the same horse, Frisco, of Mel Potter's.
"Mel told me that the horse had to win today so he could win it heading and heeling," Todd said. "He fits me really good and always has. He's only 7 years old and he doesn't blow up under pressure and puts up with my inability to ride very good."
The win was worth $37,900 and they each have plans for it. Powell, who manages a ranch in Caldwell, looks to invest the money in land.
Todd, who will rope with Cesar De La Cruz next year, plans to save as much as possible for his wife, Carly, and daughter, Madeline, while he makes a 2006 Wrangler NFR run.
"We've been married over a year, she's a great wife. We've had many blessings, a healthy baby and good life," he said. "God's kept me winning enough to keep me doing what I love doing. I thought I was going to make the Finals this year, but it kind of fell apart at the end. There's next year now."
USTRC's National Finals of Team Roping Average Results, October 23-30, Oklahoma City
USTRC National Finals US Open
The Champs: Matt Sherwood and Travis Graves
The Loot: $39,300 a man
Average Results: 1. Matt Sherwood/Travis Graves, 43.01 on 6, $78,600; 2. Mikey Fletcher/Cole Bigbee, 45.67 on 6, $47,100; 3. Frank Graves/Cory Petska, 45.74 on 6, $35,900; 4. Charly Crawford/Richard Durham, 46.23 on 6, $21,400
No. 15 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Colter Todd and Ryan Powell
The Loot: $37,900 a man
Average Results: 1. Colter Todd/ Ryan Powell, 38.74 on 5, $75,800; 2., Scott Elliott/Anthony Calmelat, 38.87 on 5, $41,100; 3. James Watson/Daniel Braddock, 40.84 on 5, $32,900; 4. Avery Roberts/Kody Grizzle, 41.08 on 5, $24,700
No. 13 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Brian Groves and Justin Lynn Copp
The Loot: $38,350 a man
Average Results: 1. Brian Groves/Justin Lynn Copp, 39.60 on 5, $76,700; 2. Jordon Olson/Jody Sarchett, 41.55 on 5, $41,700; 3. Bryan Bacon/Courtney Lane Small, 42.16 on 5, $33,400; 4. Riley Pedro/Dick Foreman, 42.19 on 5, $25,000
No. 12 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Stuart Bigbee and Mark Smith
The Loot: $40,400 a man
Average Results: 1. Stuart Bigbee/Mark Smith, 31.66 on 4, $80,800; 2. Ruben Gonzales/Tammy Ellerman, 33.53 on 4, $44,300; 3. Chris Reese/Duane Hamil, 33.87 on 4, $35,400; 4. Jim Sutton/ Ryder Lee, 33.91 on 4, $26,600
No. 11 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Jason Boegle and Jack Taylor
The Loot: $41,150 a man
Average Results: 1. Jason Boegle/Jack Taylor, 34.81 on 4, $82,300; 2. Kerry Slaba/Tim Nutter, 35.11 on 4, $45,400; 3. Ricky Lyles/Jim Gates, 36.73 on 4, $36,200; 4. Chance Nicholls/T.J. Teague, 36.99 on 4, $27,100
No. 10 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Annette Hinkle and Ranee Gililland
The Loot: $45,000 a woman
Average Results: Annette Hinkle/ Ranee Gililland, 36.20 on 4, $90,000; 2. Andy Mackey/Bob Douglas, 36.62 on 4, $50,000; 3. Bill Green/Buster Green, 36.74 on 4, $40,000; 4. Clint Summers/Prim Parker, 39.71 on 4, $30,000
No. 9 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Chad Cavin and Johnny Chambers
The Loot: $38,850 a man
Average Results: 1. Chad Cavin/Johnny Chambers, 36.87 on 4, $77,700; 2. Fred Coffinger/Dean Schuster, 40.35 on 4, $42,300; 3. Jose Vargas/Andy Matthews, 40.72 on 4, $33,900; 4. Jordan McCoin/Wes Holden, 42.30 on 4, $25,400
No. 10 USSTC Gold Plus
The Champs: Chase Harris and Russell Johnson
The Loot: $27,050 a man
Average Results: 1. Chase Harris/Russell Johnson, 34.25 on 4, $54,100; 2. Arwin Mikkelsen/Chuck Buist, 39.21 on 4, $33,800; 3. Gary Hamilton/Jerry Jensen, 39.90 on 4, $27,000; 4. C.J. Pate/Curt Pate, 41.00 on 4, $22,500
No. 8 Shoot-Out
The Champs: Colby Simmons and Samson Jackson
The Loot: $23,000 a man
Average Results: 1. Colby Simmons/Samson Jackson, 38.28 on 4, $46,000; 2. Joel Davis/Mike Welker, 43.43 on 4, $28,800; 3. Jim Spencer/Dave Hornaday, 44.57 on 4, $23,000; 4. Jay Wagner, Ed Von Heeder, 45.11 on 4, $17,300
No. 12 USSTC Gold Plus
The Champs: Chad Evans and Don Langford
The Loot: $29,300 a man
Average Results: 1. Chad Evans/Don Langford, 32.80 on 4, $58,600; 2. Charles Tenorio/Sid Savage, 34.06 on 4, $36,600; 3. Rudy Benavidez/Javier Chavez Minguer, 35.11 on 4, $29,300; 4. Kyle Segura/Eric Dunn, 35.13 on 4, $24,400
The Champs: Terry Boydstun and Dub Cox
The Loot: $6,350 a man
Average Results: 1. Terry Boydstrum/Dub Cox, 37.45 on 4, $12,700; 2. Gary Gist/Don Kimble, 40.04 on 4, $7,900; 3. Jimmy Peters/Leonard Poppino, 42.75 on 4, $6,300
Cruel Girl Championship
The Champs: Bailey Cooper and Barrie Smith
The Loot: $4,500 a woman
Average Results: 1. Bailey Cooper/Barrie Smith, 37.26 on 4, $9,000; 2. Bailey Cooper/Shelby Smith, 39.19 on 4, $5,700; 3. Annette Hinkle/Ranee Gililland, 42.90 on 4, $4,500; 4. Corrie Jo Gatlin/Hannah White, 52.31 on 4, $3,800