PIMA, Ariz. – As folks in this region understand, sometimes it takes just a spark to ignite a wildfire.
World champion team roper Matt Sherwood is hoping that’s the case for his 2011 season. The spark came during the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Fourth of July run, where Sherwood and partner Cory Petska of Marana, Ariz., roped $15,768 each, the most of any teams in ProRodeo.
“I was happy to have a good week, and hopefully I can have that carry over into the rest of the season,” said Sherwood, who won world titles in 2006 and ’08. “My year had been pretty slow, but that’s part of the business, and you have to tell yourself that. Between fees and fuel, it gets expensive, and when you don’t do well, it is pretty frustrating both emotionally and financially.
“But you keep telling yourself that you’re good enough and that you have enough faith in your partner that things will turn around. You have to tell yourself that you should be winning. If you need to make a few minor investments, then make them but keep doing what’s been successful for you.”
Sherwood has plenty of ability, and so does his partner. Originally from Oklahoma, Petska is a second-generation team roper whose father, Paul, qualified three times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Cory Petska has played on ProRodeo’s grandest stage eight times so far in his career.
Petska and Sherwood just teamed up a few weeks ago, but they’ve been around one another for years. Prior to this partnership, the two had roped together a handful of times but never at a ProRodeo event. Still, they found a lot of confidence during the Fourth of July run, a string of lucrative rodeos that lead into the holiday.
“Our Fourth had been a lot like the season … slow,” said Sherwood, who lives in Pima with his wife, Kim, and their seven children, Megan, Jessica, Aubrie, Ashlie, Cody, Logan and Porter. “It started out extremely show and was pretty frustrating when we finally started turning it around. When we did, we placed on six steers in a row.
“We didn’t do any good at the first three rodeos we went to, then we placed a little bit at St. Paul (Ore.), which kind of broke the ice.”
The ice was melting by the time they competed at the Cody (Wyo.) Stampede on July 4. The finished third in the first of two go-rounds, then won the two-run average with an aggregate of 10.9 seconds. That was worth $6,171 – 39 percent of their week’s earnings.
The big week catapulted Sherwood to the top 20 in the heading world standings with $32,607. In fact, he almost doubled his 2011 earnings in just a few days. Petska moved past $43,000 on the season and steadily into the top 10 on the heeling money list.
“Even though Cory and I had never rodeoed before, we both felt like it would be a good fit,” Sherwood said. “We had roped for about a month, and nothing great had happened. Then we had a good run. That means a lot in this business.”