ESTES PARK, Colo. – After roping together for a couple of years, Pedro Egurrola and J.C. Flake decided to try something else.
They separated, which happens in team roping, but they remained close friends. When they had the opportunity to reunite, they opted to do so at one of their favorite events, Rooftop Rodeo. They proved that familiarity breeds content, stopping the clock during Thursday’s second performance in 5.0 seconds to take the first-round lead in Estes Park.
“We roped together all last year, then we took and break but decided to get the band back together,” said Flake, 24, a heeler from Grandbury, Texas. “This is our first one back.”
It’s a good start to an important rodeo for both. Neither cowboy is among the top 50 in the world standings, and Rooftop Rodeo offers them three chances at the money. They are scheduled to rope their second steer Sunday night, so they have a chance to earn cash in both rounds and the aggregate.
“For us, (the key) was to slow down and just make a good run and let us make up the time that way,” said Egurrola, a 28-year-old header from Florence, Arizona. “We just wanted to go down, be smart and be aggressive.”
That worked pretty well a year ago. The tandem secured Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo title last fall and will compete next week in the national circuit finals, dubbed the NFR Open. They’d love the chance to continue to build on their success from their first night back in the saddle.
“Pedro did a great job, and we had a good steer, so we just tried to maximize him,” Flake said. “We’re just thankful to the committee and everyone that let us come here and be part of it. It’s a great rodeo.”
Great events like Rooftop Rodeo attract hundreds of contestants, and the cream will rise to the top. Egurrola and Flake hope to be there by the time the rodeo comes to an end.
“It comes down to having confidence,” Egurrola said. “It’s about having confidence in your horse, having confidence in your partner. All you can do is do your job, so you’ve got to set up your job to make it easy on your partner.”
Headers rope the steers’ horns, then turn the animals to give their heelers the best shot. The clock stops when both have secured loops and turn their horses to face one another. The many runs they’ve made together over the years all played into the run they made Thursday evening.
“He’s one of my best friends, so it’s always really fun,” Flake said of Egurrola. “We’re never against each other, and everyone’s on the same team. We’re really close, so that makes it easy.”
Bareback riding: 1. Strawbs Jones, 78 points on Cervi Brothers’ Fire Easy; 2. Kade Sonnier, 76.5; 3. Tim Murphy, 74; 4. Kory Hart, 72; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: 1. Aaron Vosler, 3.6 seconds; 2. Charles Johnston, 5.2; 3. Jace Land, 5.3; 4. Tyke Kipp, 6.3; 5. Yazzie Rooster, 7.4; 6. Clay Reiner, 14.1.
Team roping: 1. Pedro Egurrola/J.C. Flake, 5.0 seconds; 2. Rowdy Jones/Jeffrey Williams, 5.5; 2. 3. Kyon Kreutzer/Clancey Kreutzer, 5.7; 4. Zane Murphy/Dustin Taylor, 5.8; 5. Eric Martin/Ryon Tittel, 5.9; 6. Teagan Hunter Karlson, 6.5.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. Sam Martin, 84 points on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Scarlette; 2. Lefty Holman, 82.5; 3. Leon Fountain, 82; 4. Brody Cress, 81.5; 5. Bryan Huey, 79; 6. Carter Sandberg, 78.5.
Tie-down roping: 1. Tyler Boxleitner, 9.9 seconds; 2. Zaine Mikita, 12.9; 3. Seth Peterson, 13.1; 4. Garrett Busby, 13.2; 5. J.D. McCuistion, 18.1; 6. Walker Akins, 18.2
Barrel racing: 1. Kelly Allen, 16.11 seconds; 2. Michelle Darling, 16.18; 3. (tie) Rainey Skelton and Heidi Tillard, 16.21; 5. Michelle Merrick, 16.24; 6. Shali Lord, 16.28; 7. Natalie Bland, 16.44; 8. Erin Wetzel, 16.47; 9. Laura Lambert, 16.55; 10. Brittyn Rocha, 16.58.
Bull riding: 1. Cody Johansen, 76.5 points on Cervi Brothers’ Wild Time; 2. Ben Bode, 72; no other qualified rides.