An Oklahoma original

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GUTHRIE, Okla. – The CINCH Timed Event Championship is a staple in Oklahoma, as much as anything along the red-dirt landscape.

Dubbed the “Ironman of ProRodeo,” the event has crowned some of the greatest champions in rodeo history over its 31-year history, men like reigning titlist Trevor Brazile and hall-of-famers like Paul Tierney, Jimmie Cooper and Leo Camarillo. There has never been a champion from Oklahoma win this prestigious event.

Clay Smith
Clay Smith

Four men making up one-fifth of the field hope to change that during the 2016 CINCH TEC, which features five challenging go-rounds from Friday, March 4-Sunday, March 6, at the Lazy E Arena. The overall winner will earn the $100,000 first-place prize.

“It would be great to be the first Okie to win that,” said Clay Smith of Broken Bow, Okla., the 2014 reserve champion. “Whoever wins that is a pretty good cowboy, and that’s what this whole sport is all about. It’s not only about being good with a rope but also being able to ride your horse and make 25 runs over three days.

“It takes good horsemanship and a lot of grit. I’ve had a lot of fun there, and I would love to win that deal.”

Smith will be joined in the exclusive field of 20 competitors by three other Oklahomans: Cody Doescher of Oklahoma City, Trell Etbauer of Goodwell and Brodie Poppino of Big Cabin. They’ll test their skills against the greatest all-around timed-event talent in the game, including seven-time champ Brazile, three-time winner Daniel Green, two-time titlist Kyle Lockett and two other champions, Josh Peek and Paul David Tierney.

Trell Etbauer
Trell Etbauer

They will compete in all five rodeo timed events: heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping. There will be two rounds each on Friday and Saturday, beginning at noon and 7:30 p.m. each day, and the final round will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“They only invite 20 guys, so to get the invitation is pretty special,” Etbauer said. “There’s not another event like it. It’s a cowboy event. Not everybody can go out there and do every timed event, so it’s just a battle to see who is the better hand.”

Over the history of the game, nobody has been recognized as “the better hand” more than Brazile. In addition to his seven CTEC titles, he is a 23-time ProRodeo world champion and only one of two men to have earned qualifications to the National Finals in all four roping disciplines – Brazile owns world titles in steer roping (6), tie-down roping (3) and heading (1). He also knows how to handle the challenges that come up over the course of the “Ironman of ProRodeo.”

Brodie Poppino
Brodie Poppino

“It brings out the guys’ strengths and weaknesses and shows their mental toughness more than anything, even on top of their physical toughness,” said Poppino, a second-generation cowboy who will compete in the CTEC for the first time in his career. “It’s called the ‘Ironman’ for a reason; it’s a big-time challenge, and that’s what I like about it.

“Everybody has their strong points, and everybody has their weak points. It’s about overcoming their weak points, and that’s why it gives anybody a chance to win it.”

Doescher returns for the third straight year, and he has experienced every aspect of the game in his two previous campaigns. He understands what a grueling test the Timed Event is for all 20 combatants.

“It’s such a cowboy competition and not just a rodeo,” he said. “Guys get out of their comfort zone and have to do things they don’t do every day. It brings out the weaknesses everybody has and the mind games, and you have to overcome it in one event. That’s what makes it such a great event.”

Cody Doescher
Cody Doescher

Of the four Oklahomans in the field, Etbauer and Smith are the longest tenured; both men were rookies in the 2013 CTEC, and both have earned nice paychecks over their three previous outings. In 2014, Smith came within a whisker of claiming the championship, finishing second to Paul David Tierney that March. He hopes to parlay a terrific start to his 2016 ProRodeo season into another shot at the coveted CTEC gold buckle.

“To win that deal, your horsepower has got to be good, and you’ve got to have good help,” said Smith, who will lean on his brother, Jake, as his partner in the team roping disciplines and his hazer in steer wrestling. “I really love being in the Timed Event, but if something happened and I couldn’t enter, I’d still love to go watch it.

“You get to see guys who do other professional events and see them out of their element. You see people who do something they’re not used to doing, and then you get to see how they react to it. It’s really amazing to watch.”


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