Cooper excels at team roping

Aaron Vosler of Cheyenne, Wy.,  prepares to wrestle a steer at the CPRA Rodeo at the Mesa County Fairgrounds

Rodeo competitors normally rely on two things — themselves and their horse.

The exception to that rule is the roping events, in which there is another element that must be factored in for a roper to be successful: a good partner.

Cole Cooper heads the list of people who understand that.

“It’s probably one of the most humbling sports in the world,” the Grand Junction resident said of riding the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association circuit.

Competing in two events at the CPRA state championships at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, Cooper brought home money in both events.

Teaming with Jay Tittel of Pueblo, the two won Saturday’s session of the team roping event, then finished second in Sunday’s go-round to place second overall in the three-day state championships.

The two both earned season-ending honors as well.

Tittel, the header in the two-man team, was selected the season’s top header roper for the CPRA season. Cooper, the team’s heeler, was also selected best at his craft.

Headers rope a steer’s head. They must get the rope past the steer’s horns and secure it around the neck.

The heeler must rope both hind hooves. If only one is roped, a five-second penalty is assessed.

Tittel and Cooper were the best in their field all season, entering the state championships as the top-ranked team.

In addition, Cooper teamed with Nicole Rice of Grand Junction in the mixed team roping competition.

Rice and Cooper won Saturday’s session and finished fourth in Sunday’s finale, leaving them in second place in the overall standings for the championship.

Cooper, who grew up on Montrose and graduated from Olathe High School seven years ago, was roping by the time he was 5 years old. At age 14, he competed in his first CPRA state finals.

He even qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo was competing for two years on the Mesa State College team.

Having competed as a pro for nine years, “It can sure be frustrating,” Cooper said. “If we ride tomorrow, it could be a different outcome. All a guy can do is prepare, prepare, prepare.”

He gets plenty of time to do that. Cooper trains team roping horses for a living.

“The biggest part about it is being in position — horsemanship,” Cooper said. “I work on that every day.”

It’s paid off.

Last year, he teamed with Travis Bounds of Clifton to win the CPRA team roping championship. The two had the title locked up before the state finals last year.

“This year means more,” Cooper said as four teams were in the hunt for the overall championship entering the state finals.

Cooper and Tittel secured the state championship by recording the second-fastest time of the day on Sunday.

Bounds, who hooked up with Ryan Zurcher of Pueblo this year, was in first place in the header standings in team roping before Tittel overtook him during the weekend.

Bounds and his mixed roping teammate, Laura Soucie of Grand Junction, did win Sunday’s go-round in that event to pick up the day money.

Another Mesa County resident, Jay Ellerman of Loma, teamed with Shay Carroll of La Junta to win day money in the team roping on Sunday.

Cooper plans on entering a couple of rodeos in the fall but will spend most of his time preparing to earn a third team roping championship next season.

“It starts (today),” he said of the preparation.


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