CLAREMORE, Okla. – Droughts are part of any sport, and the biggest factor in overcoming them is confidence.
Take Brad Hartt, a tie-down roper from Sebring, Fla. He’s been roping well; he just hasn’t done so well in securing that quality calf on which to compete. The animals and the contestants are matched together by a blind draw, and it hasn’t treated Harrt so well recently.
That changed Saturday night during the second performance of the Will Rogers Stampede, where Hartt posted a 7.8-second run to rip the lead from 14-time world champion Trevor Brazile. He’ll wait out about a dozen more cowboys for Sunday’s final performance, set for 7:30 p.m. at Will Rogers Stampede Arena.
“I just had a good calf,” said Hartt, a three-time Southeastern Circuit champion. “I’ve been waiting on him all week.”
That’s a testament to the sometimes-frustrating game cowboys play in the world of rodeo. But perseverance also is part of the equation. Hartt has stayed close to home for most of his eight-year career, but he’s finished in the top 50 in the tie-down roping standings three times.
That’s pretty good for a cowboy who has missed most of the last two years of competition.
“I just stayed home and worked,” said Hartt, who runs a 1,500-head cow-calf ranch. “I’ll go some this year.”
And like every man in the game, there are plenty of dreams of playing on its biggest stage, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“That’s always my goal,” he said. “Right now, I just want to win my circuit again.”
Hartt wasn’t the only cowboy Saturday night who took the lead in his respective event. Bull rider Wade Payne of Beaver, Okla., rode Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Hot Wheels for 80 points to move atop the leaderboard in bull riding. Payne, who just last spring was diagnosed with cancer, is back to the business of rodeo.
“My plan this year is to go as much as I can and get my qualifications up,” said Payne, 23, noting that the top 45 cowboys in the final world standings earn the right to compete at most of the big-money rodeos for the following year. “I’d love to make the NFR this year, and if it works out, great. But I just want to be able to go to San Antonio and those rodeos next year.”
Bareback riding leaders
1. 1. Ty Breuer, 83 points on Western Trails’ Lorra Belle; 2. Tanner Aus, 72; 3. Blade Elliott, 69; 4. Nate Moore, 59; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling leaders
1. Ricky Riley, 4.2 seconds; 2. Dru Melvin and Jacob Talley, 4.3; 4. Zach Cobb and Trey Austin, 4.4; 6. Chance Howard, 4.5.
Saddle bronc riding leaders
1. Jacobs Crawley, 80 points on Rafter H Rodeo Livestock’s Spade; 2. Cody Angland, 79; 3. Doug Aldridge and Jeremiah Diffee, 77; 5. Hardy Braden and Jordan Corrigan, 76.
Tie down roping leaders
1. Brad Hartt, 7.8 seconds; 2. Trevor Brazile, 8.1; 3. Stetson Aldreidge, 8.3; 4. Chris Neal, 8.5; 5. Trent Creager and Cole Bailey, 8.7; 6. Payden Emmett, 9.0.
Team roping leaders
1. Blake Hughes/Steve Orth, 5.2 seconds; 2. Casper May/Derrick Peterson and Philip McCoy/Brandon Wright, 5.8; 4. Troy Kitchener/Chad Mathes and Adam Newcomb/Chad Harper, 6.0; 6. Nick Sartain/Kollin VonAhn, 6.1.
Barrel racing leaders
1. Carlee Pierce, 16.96; 2. Mary Burger, 17.04; 3. Shelley Morgan, 17.11 seconds; 4. Kaley Bass, 17.12; 5. Tracy Nowlin and Jessi Eagleberger, 17.28; 6. Sabra O’Quinn, 17.29; 7. Robyn Herring, 17.31; 8. Jeannie McKee, 17.32; 9. Tana Renick, 17.38; 10. Rachelle Holt, 17.45.
Bull riding Leaders
1. Wade Payne, 80 on Rafter H Rodeo’s Hot Wheels; 2. Jeff Askey, 72; 3. Corey Navarre, 68; no other qualified rides.