— LAS VEGAS – A team roper from Weatherford tied for the win in the first of 10 rounds at the 53rd Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday night.
Ryan Motes, 32, roped his steer with his partner Brock Hanson, of Arizona, in 4.7 seconds to earn $16,343.
“My partner did a great job,” said Motes, who is the heeler of the team. “He’s going to be nasty here all week.”
Only the top 15 contestants in each of seven events are invited to compete in the $6 million event, which drew 17,460 fans Thursday night. Motes is roping at his second NFR (he also made rodeo’s Super Bowl in 2007), and he entered the showdown in 10th place in the world team roping standings. Earlier this season, he and Hanson tied the world record for roping a steer in 3.3 seconds in Texas.
“The way we rope fits well here,” said Motes. “We pride ourselves on going fast; we’ve won most of our money all season by winning go-rounds. I expect us to have a lot of success here.”
After his win in the NFR’s first round, Motes – a Weatherford College alumnus – moved all the way to fifth in the championship standings.
He remains more than $40,000 behind leader Patrick Smith. However, in Las Vegas, each round pays out nearly $60,000, while contestants can also earn part of a $176,683 purse for their overall performance over 10 rounds.
Hanson, a Colorado native, is ranked 10th in the heading standings, some $50,000 behind leader Trevor Brazile.