Derrick Begay and Clay O'Brien Cooper have won plenty of $3,625 checks in their storied careers--but the check they'll receive for their 4.01-second run in Redmond, Ore., at the Elite Rodeo Association's inaugural tour stop in the Bank of the Cascades Center March 25 might just mean a little more than the rest.
Through trial and turmoil, the ERA sold out it's first weekend of its eight-stop, $4.6-million tour for 2016, and the crowd first got to see Chad Masters and Travis Graves go 4.81 to kick off the team roping. Begay and Cooper answered with their 4.01, with Begay throwing a whole lot of line and Cooper firing off on the first legal hop. Begay's long-time traveling partner Turtle Powell spun one for the semi-retired world champ Jhett Johnson to finish second with a 4.32. Aaron Tsinigine and Ryan Motes held on to a fourth-place check with a leg at 8.97, while Trevor Brazile's and Patrick Smith's leg got them a fifth place check at 10.36.
"Derrick brings down the house with a big bomb and I have to just quiet the crowd with just a catch," Cooper joked. "Swag (Begay's horse) got tired of pulling. I heard him grunting a little bit saying 'Throw!'"
Joking aside, both Begay and Cooper were in awe of the gravity of the night and their win.
"Down the road, if the ERA lifts off the ground like we hope it does, then to win the first one is a special thing," Cooper said. "
"Roping is always going to be roping, but it was a different deal being a part of putting on the show," Begay said. "We are all involved in this whole deal somehow, and so that's one thing I liked about it. I was more nervous about how the rodeo was going to go then worrying about trying to rope.
"A lot of questions were answered last night," Begay added. "The crowd was there. The feel was there. This is the real deal because we're all competitors and we're trying to put on a show for the fans who showed up at the first event to support us. There's passion that we can do it, and one thing I can guarantee is that there's a great group of guys who know rodeo, and they all have a lot of experience and knowledge to put on a great rodeo."
The ERA's world standings will be based on a points system, so you can see more on who got what points here.
We'll have full coverage from the first weekend of ERA competition in our May issue. Make sure you've got your subscription here.