Ropers looking to snag big bucks

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Ty Harris is a Resistol cowboy from San Angelo, Texas. At 23, he’s among the elite tie-down ropers in rodeo and will compete at the 2022 The American.

Resistol cowboys Douch, Harris excited for opportunities at The American

Resistol cowboys John Douch and Ty Harris know what it’s like to rope for the biggest bucks in rodeo.

They’re coming off the National Finals Rodeo and the 2021 season, where they finished among the best in the business and earned the right to compete at The American, set for Friday, March 4, at Cowtown Coliseum in the legendary Fort Worth (Texas) Stockyards with hopes of returning to the final day of competition Sunday, March 6, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Douch, competing at his first NFR this past December, finished the year 10th in the world standings to receive the automatic bid into The American field of tie-down ropers. The top 10 in each event earn their shot at the $100,000 first-place prize on that Sunday. Harris finished 11th in 2021, but he gets the chance to compete as an injury replacement.

“The American is huge for rodeo,” said Harris, 23, a three-time NFR qualifier from San Angelo, Texas, who was the 2018 Resistol Tie-Down Roping Rookie of the Year. “There’s no other rodeo where a guy can go compete for $1 million to $2 million. It’s a big deal for the qualifiers, but it’s also big for a guy to come off this NFR and get an automatic bid into the $100,000 field. This rodeo is one of the biggest things going.”

It’s also unique. In addition to the invitees, The American features a qualifying system that allows contestants in each event to battle their way through and into the 16-person field on that Friday night. The final six contestants will come out of the semifinals round on Thursday, March 3, and they will be eligible for the qualifiers’ side pot, which is typically $1 million.

Any qualifier that wins the top prize on the final day will earn at least a share of $1 million; in The American’s inaugural year of 2014, bareback rider Richmond Champion was the only qualifier to do so, and it set him up for life. In the years since, the pot was split up between multiple qualifiers.

That was until 2021, when no qualifier earned the side pot; that money was rolled over into this year’s event, so the side pot is worth $2 million.

“The purse is a pretty big deal,” said Douch of Huntsville, Texas. “There are many up-and-coming kids that can rope good. I’m only 24, and there are kids younger than me that can really rope. If they could win that, they could make a big name for themselves.”

Douch and Harris have been in that position before. Douch made it to the 16-man field a couple seasons ago, while Harris will be part of that performance for the fifth time; Harris was in the mix three times as a qualifier. Competing inside the Dallas Cowboys home stadium is a huge honor, especially for the two Texans.

“It is the coolest stadium I’ve ever been in,” Harris said. “Whether you’re a Cowboys fan or not, they’re ‘America’s Team.’ It’s cool to compete in that time of stadium where ‘America’s Team’ plays football.”

It’s also a big opportunity, whether they’re roping for millions or for $100,000.

“That’s probably the biggest rodeo I’d ever been to,” Douch said. “Growing up without much money, winning money like that could mean a lot.”


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