BLACKFOOT – One of the oldest events if not the oldest event in rodeo is calf roping.
Now called tie down roping, except by the true old-timers in the game, calf roping started on the ranches, when a cowboy was out riding the range, looking for strays and if he came across one, he generally would rope the calf, tie him so he couldn’t get away and then proceed to build a fire, heat up a branding iron and brand the calf right there, so as to deter rustlers from stealing the calf.
But in today’s fast-paced, action-packed rodeos, there have been a number of rules applied to the event.
The calf, who generally is closer to a weanling or yearling and sometimes appears to be as big as the cowboy, is placed in a chute, and gets a head start on the cowboy.
The cowboy on his horse is some 10 to 20 feet behind the calf, in a box, and he can’t get away faster than the calf or he breaks a barrier that will add a penalty to whatever time the cowboy can come up with after roping and tying the calf. The cowboy will have a loop ready and will attempt to rope the calf as soon as he can. Once on the ground, the cowboy secures three of the four legs and his time recorded.
For the upcoming state rodeo, District 4 is blessed with at least six cowboys who have a chance to claim a state title.
Wyatt Jensen is a sophomore at Snake River High School and he and his team roping partner Boedy Thompson are now the two-time defending team roping champions from District 4. They also are both qualifiers to the national finals high school rodeo last year.
Jensen stormed through the District 4 rodeos, barely missing a beat or a calf during the 12 rodeos in three cities and arenas and came out on top of the standings with 75 points. He was 19 points clear of the runner-up, Riley Barber, who ended up being the All-Around Cowboy.
Barber and Kellen Merica finished second and third, respectively, and both have shown that they are more than capable of upsetting the field.
District 4’s rookie of the year was Ira Oleson and he is fourth of the six qualifiers to state from the district. He earned 31 points in the event, but he started slow and closed with a rush.
Hunter Roche and Boedy Thompson round out the District 4 team and both are involved in other events that may take the attention to start with and that is not conducive to a quick start in this event.
Tyler Wanstrom, the All-Around Cowboy from District 1, was also the tie down roping champion for the district and did so in a runaway fashion with 115 points in 12 rodeos.
District 2 is sending Devon McDaniel as its champion and runner-up Birch Eiguren, both of whom are strong competitors. McDaniel was also the All-Around Cowboy in the district and Eiguren was part of the best team roping tandem.
District 3 will be sending Luke Olsen as its champion and he did it the hard way with only 54 points in 10 rodeos. That is the lowest total of all the district champs.
District 5 has Cooper Pavkov and Wes Shaw and both have reputations as top-notch cowboys. One or the other will have to shine in the early performances, but both are capable. Pavkov scored over 100 points in his district and Shaw wasn’t far behind with 89.
District 6 has a history of performing well at the state finals. It is sending Brey Yore and Jett VanBiezen who finished first and second, but there is more depth in this district, with Aaron Champneys and Lucas Cruz and Ryn Severe and Joe Zebarth all capable of springing an upset. Yore scored 116 points to win the event, while VanBiezen had 96 to finish in second.
District 7 sends a host of cowboys in this event. The district title went to William Warner, with Carson Klingler in second and Tyson Bond in third.
District 8 sends champion Tom Simpson as its top point earner with 102. Simpson is an all-around athlete, starring in football and basketball as well as rodeo.
District 9 was led this year by Wyatt Stephens who ran away with the title, scoring 112 points to outdistance Whitt and Gabe Smith who scored 85 and 76 points, respectively.