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Jake Smith and Braden Harmon Win
World Junior Team Roping Championship

By:  Tammie Hiatt
A traditional Thanksgiving has many different meanings, for some, the tradition is to gather the family to enjoy turkey, pumpkin pie and football.  Team roping families opted to forego the turkey, loaded up and traveled from as far as Indiana and Arizona to take part in the most prestigious junior team roping in the country.

The event celebrated its 23rd anniversary November 26-29 at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore, OK.  The list of past champions and fast time holders reads like the who’s who in professional team roping.  Several on the list, including J.D Yates, who turned in the fastest time in 1978, now brings his son, Trey, to compete.  Denton Payne, the 1985 WJTRC champion and Colby Jones, the ’91 WJTRC arena record holder in the Bill Cody Arena in Amarillo, also makes the annual trek with their sons. 

Team roping clinician Tyler Magnus, who comes to compete with his kids, Ruby and Truman, remarked about the event, “For the kids, the sport, and a family oriented event, there’s nothing better than this roping.  It’s great for the kids to get to compete with others their age from across the country.  You can really see the competitive side come out in them.”

Quincy Kuckelhan and Dakota Kirchenschlager topped the 104 teams in the open roping held Thursday, November 26 taking the average win with a total of 25.20 seconds on four head.  Kirchenschlager and partner Todd Arthur claimed the average win in Friday’s open roping with a time of 21.78 on four head.  Spencer Mitchell and Dakota Kirchenschlager were the high money earners of the open roping division and each claimed a Twister trophy saddle for their efforts.

The average win in the 14 & Under Roping on Friday went to Aaron Macy and Trevor Kirchenschlager.  The duo turned in a total time of 20.13 on their three head.  Each roper was presented with a Twister trophy saddle.  Thirteen-year-old Kirchenschlager of Yuma, CO commented on his win, “This roping is fun.  I’ve been here two times before but it wasn’t good either trip.  This sure makes up for it.”  This was the fourth trip for 14-year-old Aaron Macy of Post, Texas.  “It’s about time!” he said.  “The other years hadn’t been good.  I love this roping.” 

The five head World Junior Team Roping Championship kicked off on Saturday, November 28 with over 240 teams under the age of 18 going head to head for the right to add their names to the list of winners of the prestigious event.  When the dust had cleared, Jake Smith and Braden Harmon earned the average win with a total time of 28.95 on their five steers.  Sixteen-year-old Smith of Broken Bow, OK commented on his win, “It feels great to win this.  I always wanted to do good here.  This is a pretty prestigious kids roping.  Everyone wants to do good here.  I was a little nervous on the last steer, but I was more excited and just ready to rope.” 

“We had never roped together before today,” said 18-year-old Braden Harmon of Mustang, OK.  “I knew he was a good run.  I’ve been coming to this roping for six years and had never even placed before.  This feels great; it’s a great way to go out.”
Courtney Small and Lane Siggins earned second in the average with their time of 31.90 seconds.  Courtney was also named the high-point girl for the event.   Chace Thompson and Jake Matthews turned in a 4.37 second run to claim the fastest time of the 5 header.  The boys each earned a pair of trophy spurs for their run.

The future of the sport looks very solid by the level of talent displayed in the short round.  The 14 and under ropers held their own in the featured roping as fourteen teams made it to the top 30 short round.  Aaron Macy and Brent Ivy earned the 14 and under trophy saddles while Trevor Kirchenschlager collected his second saddle of the event when he earned the 14 & under high point saddle. 

Seven scholarships were also awarded to the qualifying seniors.  Courtney Small, Reba Gonzales, Logan Medlin, Shay Carroll, Kaleb Treadway, and Justine Reed all received $1,000 scholarships.  A $500 scholarship was awarded to Ethan Fox.

A total of 1,465 teams competed during the Thanksgiving weekend with a total payout of over $60,500.  Ten custom made Twister saddles were awarded as well as buckles, spurs, horse blankets and much more.  Sponsors of the event included Teskey’s, Cactus Ropes, Professional Choice, Quicksilver, Fast Back Ropes, Bloomer Trailers, Classic Ropes, Wrangler, Red Bluff Buckles, Twister Saddles, Ardmore Holiday Inn, The Roping Show, Young Pros, Decked Out, and Smokin’ Ropes. 

For Elton and Paula Cain, their son Twister and wife Tessa, this event is a labor of love; love of the young team ropers and their families that support the WJTRC and love of the sport of team roping.