Fort Lupton’s Brit Ellerman enjoying roping championships

Payton Norell, right, from Delta and Hank Bounds from Palisade take a run Friday morning during the Western Colorado Roping Championships at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.The Western Colorado Championships continue through Sunday.

For Fort Lupton resident Brit Ellerman, being part of a top level steer roping team runs in the family.

“My dad grew up doing it, so it’s just a family deal, we all do it,” said Ellerman, 18, whose mother and sister also have taken turns in the saddle.

Ellerman kept it in the family Friday in the Western Colorado Roping Championships at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, winning the No. 15 Handicap competition with his cousin Chad Wahlert.

The championships, which continue today and Sunday, are a team roping event put on by Missouri-based Rope The Rockies and the United States Team Roping Championship.

The No. 15 handicap event was the top level of competition all weekend due to the cancellation of the open division because of low turnout. The No. 13 handicap and No. 12 division competitions also took place.

When it came to taking the top prize, Ellerman said the familiarity with his partner kept it simple for the team.

“Chad and I have roped together a lot, so it’s just another roping,” he said. “We just go knock them down.”

But even if the team would have struggled, Wahlert provided some of his own competition amongst the 11 total teams in the event.

Wahlert also finished second with Nick Pullara and fourth with Justin Young, finishing in 1:04.37 seconds and 1:27.62.  With Young, he had the fastest time overall, roping a steer in 6.3 seconds.

On all three teams, he was the ‘heeler,’ and threw the second rope to catch the steer’s hind legs.

Clifton resident Travis Bounds competed in all three of Friday’s events.

“It’s really nice to have it close to home,” Bounds said. “They pay good and it’s five minutes from my house. You go up there and you put up a couple of hundred (dollars) and you could win $1,000.”

Although his two teams in the No. 15 handicap division did not place with Bounds as the header, Bounds switched to heeler for the No. 13 handicap and No. 12 divisions.

In the 13 handicap, he finished second with Jerry McKay and third with Dale Brandon.

In the 12, he and McKay took fifth.

Hank Bounds, Travis’ brother and rodeo partner, participated but didn’t place.

Friday’s races drew a total of 77 team entries, including 11 for the 15 handicap, 22 for the 13 handicap and 44 for the 12.

The open division competition set for Friday morning was cancelled because of a lack of teams, Rope the Rockies owner Jeff Smith said.

Smith said he expected over 30 teams to take part,  but fewer than 10 showed up on Friday, which he attributed to a struggling economy.

“We hardly had any in the open,” he said.

Still, competitors came from all over Colorado, and as far away as New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Texas for Friday’s competitions.

Smith said other than the lack of turnout for the open division, things had gone smoothly and he expects more participants as the weekend continues with lower classifications.

Today’s events start at 9 a.m. and include the Gold Plus No. 12, the No. 11 and No. 10 divisions, as well as the Junior Ropers events for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old.

“The weather’s good, the arena’s good,” he said. “It’s going to be a good weekend.”


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