OKLAHOMA CITY – There’s only one title that now eludes Tyson Durfey.
The Missouri-born cowboy put together a magnificent run from March 31-April 3 to win tie-down roping during the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo at Jim Norick Arena, the historic site that hosted the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for 13 years.
“This event has always been important to me,” said Durfey of Colbert, Wash. “Growing up in Missouri, Billy Huber was a legend in that area. Even my brother and my dad went to the circuit finals, so growing up, everybody that I looked up to was going to the circuit finals.”
Huber is from Iowa, Missouri’s neighbor to the north. Both are part of the Great Lakes Circuit, one of 12 regions that are part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s circuit system. Huber has earned 20 qualifications to the DNCFR by winning either the Great Lakes Circuit’s year-end or finals titles, so you can see how a young Durfey found an idol.
Durfey was raised near Savannah, Mo., by his father, Roy, who trains calf ropers and calf-roping horses. Twice Tyson Durfey was the tie-down roping champion in the Missouri High School Rodeo Association. At 19, he began his ProRodeo career. In 2006 at the age of 22, Durfey won the first of two Canadian Professional Rodeo Association championships, the first American-born cowboy to accomplish the feat.
And even though he’d moved to Washington, being solid in his circuit has always been an important step for Durfey, who has qualified for the national tournament four times in his career. Now he hopes to parlay his excellent run into that elusive gold buckle given to the world champion each year.
“It doesn’t look like it in the standings, but I’ve had a pretty good year,” Durfey said. “It’s just it hasn’t been at the rodeos that count for the world standings.”
That’s true. The PRCA standings are based on money earned, though the DNCFR earnings don’t count toward the 2011 campaign since qualifying is based on the 2010 season. But Durfey will find a way to spend $14,533 he earned in Oklahoma’s capital city.
Still, there’s a wave of momentum that comes along with the title. Durfey placed in the opening two go-rounds and finished second in the two-run aggregate – the top eight advanced to a sudden-death semifinals, then the top four from that round advanced to a sudden-death finals. It was there that Durfey posted the fastest time of the four-day championship, a 7.2-second run.
“I’m just blessed to have such a great horse,” Durfey, 27, said of Bailey, his sorrel quarter horse. “That horse has made my career. This really helps my momentum, but I’m not done. I just want to rope sharp and stay focused. If I can do that, everything will take care of itself.”