DUNCAN, Okla. – For 24-year-old Brodie Poppino, there are a lot of goals he has set for his ProRodeo career.
In his two seasons in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, he has accomplished some of them. In 2013, he was the steer roping rookie of the year and qualified for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. In 2014, he returned to the circuit finals and also qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping.
This year, he’s closing in on another major goal: Winning the Prairie Circuit title.
“To me, the Prairie Circuit is really important, especially in steer roping without a whole bunch of rodeos out there for us,” said Poppino of Big Cabin, Okla. “Oklahoma and Kansas are some of the bigger areas in the steer roping industry. To me, it’s more of a prestigious deal to be able to go to those events, and the chance to compete for the circuit title is big.”
The Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15-Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan. It will feature just the top 12 contestants in each event who have qualified through the regular season on the Prairie Circuit, made up primarily of events in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Steer roping, which will feature the top 15 cowboys, is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16.
Poppino is No. 1 in the standings with $13,449 and owns a $2,000 lead over the No. 2 man, Mike Chase of McAlester, Okla. The No. 3 man is Rocky Patterson, a three-time world champion from Pratt, Kan. They are among three circuit finalists who also have competed at the NFSR, joining J.P. Wickett of Sallisaw, Okla.; Ralph Williams of Skiatook, Okla.; Chet Herren, Brady Garten and Rod Hartness of Pawhuska, Okla.; and Brady Garten of Claremore, Okla.
“There’s good money up in Duncan, plus if you with them or get the chance to go to Torrington (Wyo.),” Poppino said of the site for the Ram National Circuit Finals Steer Roping. “That’s a big deal in the steer roping world. Plus, the majority of the Prairie Circuit guys are NFSR qualifiers ever year. That makes our circuit finals as prestigious as any event we can go to.”
That sentiment is echoed by all the contestants who will make their way to Duncan in mid-October. Poppino is among nine contestants who will all enter the finale in the standings lead, joined by bareback rider Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; steer wrestler Stockton Graves of Alva, Okla.; header Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Okla.; heeler Jake Long of Coffeyville, Kan.; saddle bronc rider Steven Dent of Mullen, Neb.; tie-down roper Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla.; barrel racer Kim Couch of Rattan, Okla.; and bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla.
“This year I’ve got a chance to win the circuit,” Poppino said. “I’ve got two goals in that regard, to win the average in the circuit finals and to win the year-end title. That’s an achievement everybody wants to do, and I’m just blessed to be in that position.”
He is a second-generation circuit finals qualifier. Both his mother, barrel racer Tana, and his father, steer roper Marty, have been to the finale. Tana Poppino also is a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier.
“My dad has always stayed home and worked and just went to a handful of rodeos a year to try to make it to the circuit finals,” Brodie Poppino said. “He stays home and supports mom and me. He’s the backbone to everything we do.
“He does a lot of the tuning on the horses. I’m the roper; he’s the trainer. Mom’s attitude and optimism is just unreal. She can pick me up and make me feel unbeatable.”
That type of support is a major contributor to Poppino’s success. He loves the idea of carrying on a family tradition in Duncan.
“It’s really cool to go to a deal like that,” he said. “The people in Duncan appreciate us and show us that. They want us to be there. The people are super good to the cowboys.”
It all adds to the championship atmosphere that people in southern Oklahoma have come to expect.