Hooper’s trip to Gunnison pays off

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Tilden Hooper, an eight-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, rides New Star Pro Rodeo’s Chosen One for 85 points to win the bareback riding title at Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo.

GUNNISON, Colo. – In the world of rodeo, Tilden Hooper has been around the block a few times.

He’s 34 years old, which is on the senior end for bareback riders, especially for one who almost saw his career come to an end a decade ago because of a serious neck injury. When he wasn’t hurt, he was stellar. He’s an eight-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier who is working his way to a ninth trip to Las Vegas in December.

He helped himself a bit Saturday night during the final performance of the Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo. He rode New Star Pro Rodeo’s Chosen One for 85 points to win the title, $2,042 and a rifle awarded to the winning bareback rider.

“Anytime you win a prize at a rodeo, it’s special, but winning a gun is real special,” said Hooper, the 2007 college champion and Resistol Rookie of the Year in ProRodeo. “You don’t get an opportunity to win a rifle very often, so I was pretty tickled to have the chance. It’s part of the reason I came.”

He had a decision to make. Earlier in the week, he placed seventh in the first round at the rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, and qualified for its championship round, which was also Saturday night. Hooper opted for the 500-mile drive south and is glad he did.

“It’s a really good rodeo,” said Hooper, who made the trip with his wife, Melissa, and toddler son, Tell. “It’s pretty cool whenever you can ride somewhere that they’ve been having a rodeo for over 100 years. There’s a lot of history. I’m sure every great cowboy I’ve ever looked up to rode here.

“To get a chance to come here and get to win this rodeo is special to me.”

The money doesn’t hurt. He sits 18th in the world standings and has two and a half months to make his move before the regular season comes to a close. Only the top 15 on the money list in each event advance to the NFR, the sport’s grand finale.

“Every dollar counts this time of year,” he said. “I’m not really in the position I want to be, but I’m kicking and scratching, and I’ll be back where I want to be by the time the bell rings at the end of the year.”

Another reason he opted for the trip to Gunnison was because of the horse he’d been matched with. Chosen One has been around the last couple of years, but he’s still new to the rodeo trail.

“I believe Rod Hay raised him,” Hooper said of the 20-time NFR qualifier in saddle bronc riding that now has sons riding broncs in ProRodeo. “To have a chance to get on a cool horse that the person who raised him is someone I looked up to for a long time … that’s cool, that’s fun. That horse was really good and about got the better of me at the end.

“Anybody that talks and wins and doesn’t acknowledge the horse, they’re doing that horse a disservice. It takes two to tango. I go to a lot of rodeos where you don’t have a chance, and today I had a chance and was able to take advantage of it.”

Cattlemen’s Days
Gunnison, Colo.
July 14-16
Bareback riding:
1. Tilden Hooper, 85 points on New Star Pro Rodeo’s Chosen One, $2,042; 2. Lane McGehee, 84.5, $1,565; 3. Mason Clements, 83, $1,157; 4. Dean Thompson, 81.5, $749; 5. Jayco Roper, 79.5, $476; 6. (tie) Kade Berry and Colton Crawford, 77, $306 each; 8. Matt Tuni, 76.5, $204.

Steer wrestling: 1. Justin Shaffer, 3.8 seconds, $1,924; 2. (tie) Ty Everson and Justin Kipp, 4.0, $1,548 each; 4. Cole Trainor, 4.1, $1,171; 5. Rooster Yazzie, 4.2, $920; 6. (tie) Jace Logan and Travis Munro, 4.3, $543 each; 7. (tie) Cash Robb and Tucker Allen, 4.5, $84 each.

Team roping: 1. Tanner Tomlinson/Patrick Smith, 4.0 seconds, $2,942; 2. J.C. Yeahquo/L.J. Yeahquo, 4.4, $2,533; 3. Kyon Kreutzer/Clancey Kreutzer, 4.5, $2,323; 4. Kolby Krieger/Cutter Thomison, 4.7, $2,013; 5. (tie) Chad Masters/Paul Eaves and Brit Ellerman/Marcus Banniser, $1,549 each, 4.8; 7. Clayton Van Aken/Jayden Johnson, 4.9, $1,084; 8. Chance Hine/Bodie Hine, 5.0, $774; 9. Marcus Battaglia/Jason Johe, 5.1, $465; 10. Braden Pirrung/Coley Nicholls, 5.3, $155.

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Jake Clark, 85.5 points on New Star Pro Rodeo’s Southpoint Buckle, $2,019; 2. Cree Minkoff, 82.5, $1,548; 3. Tyler Beebe, 81.5, $1,144; 4. Statler Wright, 81, $740; 5. Jake Watson, 80, $471; 6. (tie) Dean Wadsworth and Keene Justesen, 79, $303 each; 8. Chris Williams, 77, $202.

Tie-down roping: 1. Justin Brinkerhoff, 8.7 seconds, $2,865; 2. (tie) Dallen McIntire and Tom Crouse, 9.0, $2,304 each; 4. Chase Webster, 9.2, $1,744; 5. Cody Darnell, 9.6, $1,370; 6. Cole Ford, 9.7, $996; 7. Chet Boren, 10.0, $623; 8. Westyn Hughes, 10.1, $249.

Barrel racing: 1. (tie) Jimmie Smith and Mary Walker, 18.02, $1,934 each; 3. Amberley Snyder, 18.12, $1,463; 4. Kelly Yates, 18.31, $1,254; 5. Brooke McGehee, 18.32, $1,045; 7. Carly Longo, 18.45, $523; 8. Jenna Pruitt, 18.47, $418; 9. Wendy McKee, 18.48, $366; 10. Teneille Angland, 18.54, $314; 11. Shali Lord, 18.55, $261; 12. Kelcey McNamee, 18.52, $209.   

Bull riding: 1. Jeff Askey, 88.5 points on United Pro Rodeo’s Game Day, $3,558; 2. Dustin Bowen, 87.5, $2,936; 3. Bryce Burnell, 84.5, $2,402; no other qualified rides.


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