SAN ANGELO, Texas – The first thing Caleb Smidt did when he received his freshly engraved gold buckle was strap it directly onto his belt.
He’d earned it by having a tremendous 2015 season that included the average championship at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, then left it for buckle-maker Montana Silversmiths to carve his name into the golden trophy. He finally had it in his hands for good in late January.
On Sunday afternoon during the fourth performance of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, Smidt showed why he owns the 2015 tie-down roping world championship. He posted an 8.7-second run and moved into the lead in the two-run aggregate with a total time of 16.7 seconds. In addition, he and his partner, B.J. Dugger, sit second in the team roping average with a cumulative time of 9.5 seconds.
“San Angelo’s been good,” said Smidt of Huntsville, Texas. “We made two really good runs in team roping, but I kind of messed up both my runs in calf roping. I jerked my first calf down and had to pick her back up, so that slowed me down a little bit. On my second calf, I jerked her down, too, and had to get her up.
“My horse was pretty strong. I hadn’t ridden him much since the finals, so we’ve got a little room for improvement in the calf roping.”
It’s still early in the rodeo, which will continue with competition later this week, but Smidt has a solid shot at winning the all-around championship at the prestigious event.
“I always like winning,” he said. “You don’t really get anything special for winning the all-around, but anytime you can win the all-around at a big rodeo like San Angelo or San Antone, it means a lot. I like to win them, because it means I won more money in my two events.”
Now he hopes to not only carry that momentum through the rest of the 2016 season, he wants to finally have a strong finish in this West Texas community.
“I’ve placed in a few rounds here, but I’ve never won much money in Angelo,” Smidt said. “I’ve only been three times in my career. I haven’t had a whole lot of success at winter rodeos except for San Antone. I’d sure like to win a little more this winter so it makes my summer run a lot smoother.”
He knows the routes to take along the rodeo trail. He qualified for the NFR in 2013, then suffered an injury that sidelined him for much of 2014. He suffered a dislocated ankle and broke both his tibia and fibula in three spots in early May that year.
He returned to action in 2015 with his mind on the top prize. Now he not only wants to repeat as the world champion tie-down roper but also has his eyes firmly set on the all-around gold buckle.
“This gold buckle has motivated me a lot,” he said, noting that the all-around title also has been a dream for some time. “I’ve been thinking about that for the last three years, but I’ve always had something go wrong in team roping.
“Every year at the beginning of the year, I say I’m going to team rope all year. Hopefully I can get about $15,000-$20,000 won in team roping before Reno (Nev., in late June) so we can make that happen.”
That’s not all that’s on his mind, though. Smidt’s wife, Brenna, is expecting the couple’s first child.
“My wife’s about to pop, so I’m trying not to enter so much,” he said. “I’m still ready to rope and have been practicing. I’m still trying to win another buckle and win as much money as I can and support my family. That’s what’s important.”
San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo
Feb. 5-7, Feb. 12-14, Feb. 17-19
Bareback riding leaders: 1. (tie) Mason Clements, on Lancaster & Jones Pro Rodeo’s Black Pearl, and Jamie Howlett, on Powder River Rodeo’s Craig at Midnight, 84.5 points each; 3. Luke Creasy, 84; 4. Teddy Athan, 83; 5. Clayton Biglow, 82.5; 6. (tie) Tray Chambliss II and Kash Wilson, 82 each; 8. (tie) Zach Hilber, Trenton Montero and Buck Lunak, 78 each.
Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. (tie) K.C. Jones and T.J. Hall, 3.9 seconds each; 3. (tie) Stan Branco and Orrin Fontenot, 4.0 each; 5. (tie) Nick Guy and Justin Shaffer, 4.6 each; 7. Josh Garner, 5.7; 8. Chance Campbell, 11.3. Second round leaders: 1. Jacob Talley, 3.5 seconds; 2. Rowdy Parrott, 4.1; 3. (tie) K.C. Jones and Clayton Hass, 4.3; 5. Ty Erickson, 4.4; 6. (tie) Blaine Jones and Nick Guy, 4.5; 8. Cody Cabral, 4.7. Average leaders: 1. K.C. Jones, 8.2 seconds on two runs; 2. Stan Branco, 8.8; 3. Nick Guy, 9.1; 4. Justin Shaffer, 10.4; 5. Clayton Hass, 18.6; 6. Jacob Talley, 3.5 seconds on one run; 7. T.J. Hall, 3.9; 8. (tie) Orrin Fontenot.
Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger and Tyler Wade/Kinney Harrell, 4.7 seconds each; 3. Cole Sherwood/Tanner Luttrell, 4.9; 4. (tie) Cole Sherwood/Tanner Luttrell and Arky Rogers/Tyler McKnight, 4.9; 6. David Key/Travis Woodard, 5.5; 7. Tee Luttrell/Clay Sieber, 6.0; 8. Jake Cooper/York Gill, 9.4; no other qualified runs. Second round leaders: 1. Levi Simpson/Jeremy Buhler, 4.0 seconds; 2. Bobby Joe Hill/Boogie Ray, 4.1; 3. Blaine Vick/Dakota Kirchenschlager, 4.6; 4. Tyler Wade/Kinney Harrell, 4.7; 5. Caleb Smidt/ B.J. Dugger, 4.8; 6. David Key/Travis Woodard, 9.6; no other qualified times. Average leaders 1. Tyler Wade/Kinney Harrell, 9.4 seconds on two runs; 2. Caleb Smidt/B.J. Dugger, 9.5; 3. David Key/Travis Woodard, 15.1; 4. Levi Simpson/Jeremy Buhler, 4.0 seconds on one run; 5. Bobby Joe Hill/Boogie Ray, 4.1; 6. Blaine Vick/Dakota Kirchenschlager, 4.6; 7. Travis Tryan/Levi Tryan, 4.8; 8. (tie) Cole Sherwood/Tanner Lutrell and Arky Rogers/Tyler McKnight, 4.9.
Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. Jacobs Crawley, 88 points on Powder River Rodeo’s Rich n Fancy; 2. Curtis Garton, 83; 3. Joey Sonnier III, 82; 4. Brody Cress, 80; 5. CoBurn Bradshaw, 79.5; 6. (tie) Jake Wright, Call Marr and Clay Elliott, 78 each.
Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Jake Pratt, 7.9 seconds; 2. (tie) Michael Otero and Caleb Smidt, 8.0 each; 4. Robert Mathis, 8.7; 5. Cory Solomon, 8.9; 6. Mike Johnson, 9.3; 7. Westyn Hughes, 10.5; 8. Marcos Costa, 10.6. Second round leaders: 1. Marcos Costa, 7.4 seconds; 2. Riley Pruitt, 7.7; 3. Hunter Herrin, 7.9; 4. Caleb Smidt, 8.7; 5. Blane Cox, 9.5; 6. Chase Williams, 10.3; 7. Michael Otero, 10.5; 8. Tim Pharr, 11.6. Average leaders: 1. Caleb Smidt, 16.7 seconds on two runs; 2. Marcos Costa, 18.0; 3. Michael Otero, 18.5; 4. Chase Williams, 21.4; 5. Blane Cox, 22.2; 6. Robert Mathis, 22.7; 7. Hunter Herrin, 22.9; 8. Mike Johnson, 34.0.
Barrel racing: Second round leaders: 1. Tana Poppino, 13.97 seconds; 2. Pamela Capper, 14.29; 3. Sabrina Ketcham, 14.31; 4. Sherrylynn Johnson, 14.36; 5. Sherry Cervi, 14.41; 6. Kelsey Lutjen, 14.47; 7. Megan Swint, 14.52; 8. Kelsie Miller, 14.55; 9. Kristine Knauf, 14.58; 10. Kelley Carrington, 14.59. Average leaders: 1. Pamela Capper, 29.96 seconds on two runs; 2. Tana Poppino, 29.98; 3. Sherry Cervi, 30.09; 4. Sherrylynn Johnson, 30.3; 5. Sabrina Ketcham, 30.52; 6. Kelsey Lutjen, 30.63; 7. Kelsie Miller, 30,69; 8. Jennifer Sharp, 30.77; 9. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 30.80; 10. Megan Swint, 30.82.
Bull riding leaders: 1. Dustin Bowen, 87.5 points on Lancaster & Jones’ Total Bull Battle Born; 2. Tim Bingham, 86; 3. Reagan Avery, 84.5; 4. Josh Frost, 84; 5. Cody Johansen, 82; 6. Cody Rostockyj, 80.5; no other qualified rides.