Team Roping event to highlight Western Colorado Championships

Justin Ungeheuer heads a steer at the 2006 United States Team Roping Championships at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. More than 1,150 teams are expected to compete this weekend in the Western Colorado Championships in Grand Junction.

Team Roping is a great example of teamwork in sports.

The “header” and “heeler” will be front and center at this weekend’s Western Colorado Championships at the Mesa County Fairgrounds beginning at 9 a.m. today.

The event begins with the open division, which is the top competitors. There will be around 35 teams competing in the open division.

“It’s awesome to watch,” Julie Bryant, of the United States Team Roping Championships said. “Their precision, their attitude and their horsemanship is great because this is how (the open competitors) make their living.”

Team Roping is a timed event. The header’s job is to catch the steer around the horns and set it up by turning it across the arena. The heeler rides in and ropes the steer around both hind legs. The clock is stopped when the steer is secured between both ropers and their horses are facing each other.

The event has 11 different categories and an expected 1,000 teams. Bryant added there will be between $100,000 and $120,000 in prize money.

The winner of the open division also earns a spot in the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping on Oct. 22-30 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“Grand Junction is the host of some of the best Western events in the nation and we’re glad to be counted among them,” USTRC President Kirk Bray said in a press release. “This event will allow area ropers to qualify for the National Finals of Team Roping, as well as the Regional Finals to take place in Loveland in September. Others interested in the sport can also come by and see what makes team roping one of the richest sports in the horse industry.”

Bryant added there will be ropers from 10 to 12 different states, and the event is produced by Rope the Rockies, which is enticing to ropers.

“Rope the Rockies is well known in Colorado and brings some of the best stock,” Bryant said. “Everyone loves coming to Grand Junction.”

The events begin at 9 a.m. daily.


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