When the PRCA developed the All-American ProRodeo Series and Finals, it was cowboys like Casper May and Derrick Peterson who they envisioned benefitting.
The All-American Series encompasses every PRCA rodeo with total added money of $30,000 or less. Competitors must attend a minimum of 30 qualifying rodeos to be eligible for the Finals—the first of which was held in Waco, Texas, in October. The winnings from the All-American Finals don’t count toward the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but do count toward 2011 rodeo
"I think it’s a great deal for younger guys like me," All-American champion heeler Derrick Peterson said. "I’m going to buy my card next year, I’m on my permit right now. I go to college and stay around the circuit rodeos in the summer. I’m able to get to 30 of them, it’d be hard to go to more than 30, but I was able to do that and qualify for the All-American Finals."
He and his partner, Casper May, each won $11,339 in the bracket-style elimination rodeo.
"To be able to have a shot to go to Houston when I buy my card in my rookie year, that would be a great start to 2011," Peterson added. "If it wasn’t for the All-American finals, I wouldn’t be close to go to any of those rodeos."
May just graduated from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business. He and Peterson were on the rodeo team there together and while they didn’t have much success in the college ranks, they did hit a lick at the Pro Rodeos they attended.
Once at Waco, the bracket-style format benefited May and Peterson. In the first round, they legged their steer. Then they won the second round but missed in the progressive round. However, their total time on two still allowed them to qualify for the quarter-finals.
"Since the average doesn’t play into the final championship," May said. "It makes it two where a guy can try it on them."
And as it turns out, that’s exactly what they were forced to do. After a fourth-place finish in the quarter-finals, the semi-final round heated up.
"The final eight got real tough," Peterson said. "In every other round, a leg placed. We were fourth out in the final eight and there were already two 5.6s and a 5.0 before we roped. Before we went, we had to be some kind of five. We drew a good steer and were 5.2 on him. After that, Tommy Edens and Justin Hendricks set an arena record with a 4.6. Then Cody Graham and Boogie Ray were 4.8. We made a great run and barely got in."
The 5.0 came from Garrett Tonozzi and Kinney Harrell, the most experienced and notoriously fastest team in the field.
"Me and Derrick talked, and being the first team out, we just wanted to make a good run and see how it held up," May said.
"My header got it on our steer fast," Peterson said. "I was riding really aggressive position because I knew we had to be fast, and I ended up setting the steer up and I didn’t have a shot on the corner so I just threw it. Somehow I caught him. I don’t know if I could pull that shot off again, but it worked."
Then, Tonozzi broke the barrier. Then, Cody Graham missed. Suddenly, the college kids from the Prairie Circuit had a chance.
"Then Justin Hendricks ropes a leg and I was just sitting back there in the alley," Peterson said. "I didn’t even realize we won it. They yell at me to come out there and get on the back of the truck for the victory lap, I was still in shock. It was pretty cool."
With the win, the two should qualify for the winter rodeos in 2011, and they plan to make the most of the opportunity. May, who has made the Prairie Circuit Finals with Shannon Frascht, says his ultimate goal is to make a living with a rope. Peterson, meanwhile, will finish up his business degree online next semester while making a run at the rookie of the year title.
The rest of the winners were: Bareback riding: Mickey Downare; Steer Wrestling: Tommy Cook; Saddle bronc riding: Cort Scheer; Tie-down roping: Scott Kormos; Barrel racing: Kristen Williams and Bull riding: Tag Elliott.