HEMPSTEAD, Texas – Buddy Hawkins is a glass-half-full kind of person.
Finishing the 2017 regular season 16th in the world standings – one spot out of qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – can oftentimes be a deflating feeling. That’s not the case for Hawkins, a 2013 NFR heeling qualifier from Columbus, Kan., who finished just $3,000 out of advancing to Las Vegas in December.
“I may have ended up 16th, but that’s not down to me,” he said. “I finished the 2016 season 47th, so 2017 was up. If we move up that much, we’ll be wearing gold in 2018.”
He had that mentality on Friday night during the second performance of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, and it worked. He and his header, Lane Ivy of Dublin, Texas, stopped the clock in 4.2 seconds to take the team toping lead in Hempstead.
“Buddy makes my job a whole lot easier,” said Ivy, who finished the 2017 season 20th in the heading world standings. “I don’t have to worry about handling the steers as good for him; he just cleans anything I turn.”
In team roping, the header tries to rope the steer’s horns, then turns the steer to allow his heeler to take a good shot. All this happens in a virtual blink of an eye.
“Roping’s so fast now that if you want to win, it’s full contact all the time,” Ivy said.
Now just a year into their partnership, things are looking up for the duo. The regular season ended last Saturday, so their run in Hempstead was the first of the 2018 season. Even though the world champions for 2017 won’t be crowned until December, there will be several thousand dollars won by many contestants before the grand finale begins.
“We didn’t rope as good as we’re able to in the winter,” Hawkins said, reflecting on the team’s close call this past season. We finally got into the top 15 as a team in July, but in the end, we didn’t do what we’re capable of. If we’d done everything we could and came up short, then we might be more disappointed, but we didn’t do what we needed to do.”
But the new campaign offers a new beginning; Ivy and Hawkins are off to a hot start.
“This is a really good rodeo with good money,” Ivy said of the purse, which features $5,000 in added (committee) money per event and per side in team roping. “I’ve finished second here before, plus what we will win this year. It’s been good.”
He pointed out that it’s important to do well all year. That’s the best route to making the NFR, and the rodeo trail is long and winding. That’s why it’s vital that the teammates understand their roles and know what it takes to win at an elite level.
They’re off to a good start, so now it’s making everything come together the best way possible.
“In our business, the best way I can describe heeling to sports people is we’re the goaltender,” Hawkins said. “We can go months on end without allowing a goal, but that doesn’t guarantee us the win. My partner is the offensive guy, and he’s got to score for us.
“I had the best spin tonight. We had a strong steer, and he spun the best steer. That’s what set us up here.”
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
Bareback riding: 1. Justin McDaniel, 83 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Coal Thunder; 2. Jake Brown, 82; 3. (tie) Clint Laye and Zach Hibler, 80; 5. Winn Ratliff, 77; 6. Lane MGehee, 76; 7. Paden Hurst, 74; 8. Kirk St. Clair, 71.
Steer wrestling: 1. Matt Reeves, 3.6 seconds; 2. Clayton Hass, 3.8; 3. (tie) Justin Shaffer and Morgan Grant, 3.9; 5. (tie) Billy Bugenig, Jacob Talley and Blake Doyle, 4.0 each; 8. Justus Whitcher, 4.1.
Team roping: 1. Lane Ivy/Budy Hawkins II, 4.2 seconds; 2. Dustin Egusquiza/Kory Koontz, 4.4; 3. Cody Snow/Wesley Thorp, 4.6; 4. Kaleb Driggers/Junior Noguiera and Joshua Torres/Jonathan Torres, 4.8 each; 6. (tie) Caleb Smidt/Coleby Payne, Clay Smith/Paul Eaves, Tanner Green/Shawn Turner and Jake Orman/Will Woodfin, 5.0 each; 10. Justin Lovell/B.J. Dugger, 5.1.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 86 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Showgirl; 2. Bradley Harter, 84; 3. Chet Johnson, 83; 4. Isaac Diaz, 81.5; 5. Wyatt Casper, 79.5; 6. Garet Aldridge, 79; 7. Curtis Garaton, 77; 8. Will Smith, 76.5.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Clay Long, 7.5 seconds; 2. Marcos Costa, 7.7; 3. Justus Whitcher, 8.0; 4. Blane Cox, 8.4; 5. (tie) Kody Mahaffey and Ike Fontenot, 8.6 each; 7. Justin Macha, 8.7; 8. Adam Gray, 9.1.
Barrel racing leaders: 1. Kelly Bruner, 14.47 seconds; 2. Taylor Jacob, 14.72; 3. Jennifer Sharp 14.82; 4. Rainy Pratt, 14.91; 5. Morgan Breaux, 14.92; 6. Sara Withers, 14.96; 7. Amanda Cupp, 14.97; 8. Kimball Lacy,14.98; 9. Michelle Alley, 15.05; 10. Jessi Wade, 15.11; 11. Jackie Whitcher, 15.14; 12. Fallon Taylor, 15.17.
Bull riding: 1. Clayton Sellers, 83 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Son of Sam; 2. (tie) Markus Mariluch and Tristan Mize, 82 each; 4. Foster McCraw, 80; 5. Jeffrey Joseph Ramagos, 78.5; 6. Denton Fugate, 75; 7. Dakota Nye, 71.5; no other qualified rides.