CODY LEE, Gatesville, Texas
Cody Lee is closing in on the best steer roping season of his career, and that’s saying something.
This season marks the seventh time in Lee’s career that he’s qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. He has won $62,745 already and should pad his annual income this weekend.
Here’s the most interesting statistic about Lee’s season: He won just three individual titles this season; that means the Gatesville, Texas, cowboy won the bulk of his 2012 salary came by winning checks at almost all the rodeos in which he competed. That’s a tale many cowboys would love to tell.
A year ago, Lee placed in three go-rounds and finished fifth in the average. He finished the season ranked fourth in the world standings.
Now he’s set to surpass that and finish even higher. He’ll need to maintain his consistency, but he can do that as well as anyone.
ROCKY PATTERSON, Pratt, Kan.
Do you realize how close Rocky Patterson was from winning his third straight World Championship last November?
Patterson, the 2009-2010 World Champion from Pratt, Kan., jumped into the world standings lead heading into the 10th round of the 2011 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. It didn’t hold. Instead, Patterson fell to Reserve World Champion.
This season marks the 18th time in 19 years he has qualified for the finals. Patterson has been one of the best ropers in the game since joining the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1992. While the two gold buckles say a lot, his longevity says more.
Even better is the fact that he returns to the Lazy E Arena among the top two in the world standings.
Patterson had a pretty snazzy year, winning seven titles en route to his second-place regular-season finish. In addition, he earned the National Circuit Finals Steer Roping title. It’s one of many he’s earned over a prestigious career.
He’s back in prime position to win another gold buckle. That makes it as exciting as ever to be in the Lazy E this weekend.
TREVOR BRAZILE, Decatur, Texas
The list of accomplishments is long, but there’s one thing that must stand out this weekend: Trevor Brazile is your reigning World Champion Steer Roper.
He also is your reigning World Champion All-Around Cowboy.
When you add the other 14 gold buckles the Texan has won, it’s not redundant; it’s spectacular. But so is Brazile. From the first time he nodded his head in ProRodeo to his record ninth All-Around World Title last December, he has been the epitome of excellence.
He is one of just two men in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to have qualified for the National Finals in all four roping disciplines, joining Dale Smith. He’s won world championships in steer roping (3), tie-down roping (3) and team roping-heading (1).
And if you ask the rest of the field in this weekend’s 10-round championship, they will, to a man, point to Brazile as the favorite to win another gold buckle. They’ve painted a target on his back, and they’re ropes are at the ready to unseat Brazile from the top of the steer roping pyramid.
It’ll be quite a task, though. He has won this year in Lewiston, Idaho; Clovis, N.M.; Walla Walla, Wash.; Deadwood, S.D.; Woodward, Okla.; Sinton, Texas; and, most recently, in Amarillo, Texas. He put a nice finishing touch by winning in Amarillo the second to last weekend of the 2012 season
Can he win the world again? You’re in the best place to watch it.
VIN FISHER JR., Andrews, Texas
Vin Fisher Jr. is more than a second-generation steer roper.
Fisher, whose father, Dan, is a 15-time qualifier to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, is competing this weekend for the ninth time in his career. Vin has finished as high as third in the final world standings.
Fisher finished second in the average in Amarillo and won titles in San Angelo, Texas; Goliad, Texas; Garden City, Kan.; Grover, Colo.; Cushing, Okla.; and Fort Pierre, S.D. It’s that kind of experience that gives Fisher an edge when it comes to competing at a high level.
And let’s face facts: Vin Fisher Jr. has done pretty well at the steer roping finals over the course of his career, which began in 2001. He hasn’t missed an NFSR since it returned to Oklahoma four years ago. More importantly, he’s been in position to contend for the gold buckle.
Just like this year.
JESS TIERNEY, Hermosa, S.D.
Everybody in rodeo has known the tremendous talent that Jess Tierney possesses. He comes by it naturally, but it wasn’t until last November that he got to show it on the national stage.
Now Tierney returns to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping for the second straight year, coming into the championship in the fifth spot in the world standings. He’s moved up rather nicely from one year to another.
Last year, Tierney finished eighth in the average inside these walls. That’s a pretty good start to his championship run. Still, he finished 15th in the final world standings.
He’s a virtual lock to finish in the top 10 for 2012, but he’d like to end his campaign on a high note. He’s the son of a world champion; his father, Paul Tierney, earned tie-down and all-round gold buckles more than three decades ago and is enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Now it’s Jess’ turn to make his mark on the game.