HERMISTON — Tuf Cooper comes from one of the top roping families in the sport of rodeo, but the young man from Texas is making a name for himself.
Cooper, 21, turned in the hot run of the night Thursday in the tie-down roping at the Farm-City Pro Rodeo with a time of 8.3 seconds.
“I think the atmosphere here does it for me,” said Cooper, who leads the world tie-down standings with $80,737. “This is a good rodeo, and my horse (Titus) is good. When you have a good horse, it makes my job easier.”
Cooper broke the barrier in his first run, putting him out of the race for the title.
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He only will win go money at the FCPR, but he is on track to win his first world title in a sport his father, Roy, dominated for more than 25 years.
“It’s all about writing Chapter Two,” Cooper said. “Our dad wrote the book — we are trying to read it and add on to it. The cool thing is that my dad’s name opens eyes and puts those eyes on me. It’s up to me what I’m going to do with (the opportunity).”
The team roping started off a little slow Thursday, but by the end, Hermiston cowboy Jake Stanley and his partner, Austin Adams of Nevada, put together a run of 4.5 seconds to move into a tie for first in the second go-round with Turtle Powell and Jhett Johnson.
“That was a pretty good steer, and my partner was fast,” said Stanley, who welcomed daughter Claire to his family Aug. 1. “I’ve won a little bit of money here over the years, but never enough. The committee does a good job, and the paydays are good here. This should be a nice check.”
Clay Tryan and Travis Graves turned in a time of 5.2 seconds, and combined with their earlier run of 5.5, they took over the lead on two head at 10.7 seconds.
The night began with an 85-point ride in the bareback by Matt Bright, but traveling partner Clint Cannon came out of the chute second with a sterling 87-point ride on Next 2 U to take over first place in the event with two rounds remaining.
“Matt put it out there with an 85, and he was all excited,” Cannon said. “When you see your competition do good, it makes you want to do better. That’s what carries you on. When Matt had that ride, I was stoked to go. He (the horse) was a little scary, but that gets your motor going.”
Tyrell Smith and Taos Muncy took over the lead in the saddle bronc with matching 86-point rides, overtaking Ryan MacKenzie’s 85 from Wednesday night. Muncy was the first to post the 86, and Smith came along on the final ride to steal his thunder.
“That’s rodeo,” Muncy said. “There are a bunch of good horses here, and to get an 86 at this rodeo is real good. I love what I do, and Hermiston has a good rodeo every year. I’m just doing my part and seeing how it all turns out after Saturday night.”
Smith, who switched from bulls to broncs in 2007 after a run of injuries kept him out of action, was pleased with his performance.
“Anytime I can split a round, it makes me feel pretty good,” Smith said. “Getting on a horse like (Fraid Knot) give me hope.”
Billy Bugenig had the top run of the night in the steer wrestling with a 4.8. He leads on two head with a time of 10.8 seconds.
Britany Fleck maneuvered the barrels in 17.34 seconds for the top run of the night, and is second on two runs at 35.10 seconds.
In the bull riding, Devon Mezei took a gray spotted bull named Blue Boy Jazz for an 83-point spin, while Tyler Thomson won a $500 bonus in the Coca-Cola Showdown after lasting 8 seconds on a nasty black brahma named Tornado Alley.
Girls rule: Sloane Miller of Hermiston had the top score in the mutton bustin’ with an 89.
Name that tune: Music man Benje Bendele, in his 10th year with the FCPR, has more than 8,000 songs at his fingertips.
All dressed up with no place to go: Kyle Barton and Michael Pederson of the Hermiston FFA won the calf dressing contest. They had to chase down their calf and get its head and two front feet in a bright pink T-shirt and take it to the winner’s circle.