LAS VEGAS – The true competitive spirit that burns inside header Brandon Beers and heeler Jim Ross Cooper was sparked during the first two rounds of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
The team roping tandem failed to score a time in the opening go-round, then suffered a 5-second penalty on Night 2. They entered ProRodeo’s championship event third in the world standings and well within striking range of their first world championships
“Doing bad lit a little bit of a fire underneath us,” said Cooper, a four-time NFR qualifier from Monument, N.M. “We came in here thinking we were going to be solid and make good runs, but that’s not how we got where we were all year long. We got there by letting our hair down and having a good time and going fast. We just decided to get back to that plan.”
During the third go-round Saturday night, that’s just what happened. Beers and Cooper stopped the clock in 4.2 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for first place with Riley and Brady Minor and Drew Horner and Buddy Hawkins.
Cooper said he noticed the steers were a little jittery during their pre-NFR runs, so he adjusted his positioning so that his movement didn’t push the animals too far toward Beers.
“I stayed back too far in the first two, and that made Brandon miss the first one and put me in a bad position on the second one,” Cooper said. “I realized tonight that I needed to get out there and take our chances and deal with them where I want and see what happens.”
What happened was the first check of the NFR for the tandem. Each cowboy collected $14,824.
“This has been our M.O. at the NFR,” he said. “We’d miss one or two, then we’d get ticked off and go on a good roll. We’re going to try to rope angry the rest of the week.
“It’s all about the money this week, and the average take care of itself in the end. You just go fast and have fun. As a kid, you back in to the box and say, ‘This is in the NFR,’ and you make a practice run. That’s what we need to do the rest of the week.”
Maybe it’ll be making angry practice runs, or many it’s just an assertive focus toward their tasks, but it’s what they have on their minds for the next seven nights.
“That’s aggressive as I’ve ever been at the NFR,” Cooper said. “This is my fourth year here, and that’s the first time I’ve ever won a round.”