CHET HERREN, Pawhuska, Okla.
This marks the seventh time in 10 years that Chet Herren is playing on steer roping’s grandest stage.
He’s done pretty well here before.
He earned his first qualification to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping was a decade ago. He won the 10-round average championship and made a statement that season. Even though he missed the qualifying mark from 2003-05, he has been pretty consistent since. He’s missed just one time in the last six seasons (2007) and hasn’t missed the finals since they moved back to Oklahoma four years ago.
Last November, he won the sixth and seventh go-rounds and placed in three others. In all, he won $20,385 inside these walls and moved up three spots to fifth place in the final world standings.
That’s why he’s competing this weekend. That’s why many expect to his name atop the average when the championship concludes.
KIM ZIEGELGRUBER, Edmond, Okla.
Over the last five years, Kim Ziegelgruber had been on the verge of making a big name for himself in steer roping.
A year ago, he got over one major hump, qualifying for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping for the first time in his career. This year, he took even greater strides, finishing the regular season among the top 10 in the world standings.
It’s great that Ziegelgruber is enjoying success and earning these qualifications. He lives closer to the Lazy E Arena than anybody else in the field. Last November, he made a big statement on the opening day of the NFSR, winning the fifth go-round. That weekend, he placed in five other rounds en route to a fourth-place finish in the average and an eight-place finish in the standings.
This year, he won the title in Sterling, Colo., but he pocketed more than $38,373. That means Ziegelgruber earned checks at a lot of rodeos along the way. But that’s what we’ve come to expect out of him.
That’s why he’s here.
MIKE CHASE, McAlester, Okla.
Mike Chase is a Kansas-born farmer who ropes pretty well, too.
This is the McAlester, Okla., cowboy’s third qualification to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, but he’s been near the top of the game for years. This is the second straight year he’ll be in the field this weekend, and he just missed qualifying in 2010, finishing 16th in the final world standings.
A year ago, Chase earned the right to play on steer roping’s biggest stage after winning just one rodeo, the Inter-State Fair and Rodeo in Coffeyville, Kan. He won that rodeo again in 2012, but he added the title in Cleburne, Texas.
It shows that of the nearly $35,000 Chase earned this season, most of it came by nickels and dimes all along the way, meaning that he didn’t win the biggest check often, but he won a lot of checks along the way.
No matter. Mike Chase is in the chase at this year’s steer roping finale. That’s an important place to be.
J.P. WICKETT, Sallisaw, Okla.
J.P. Wickett had no intention of making the 2011 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping.
He made the finals anyway. So in 2012, he was serious. After 18 years on the rodeo trail, it was time for Wickett to spend time at home with his family.
A funny thing happened on the way to Sallisaw. Wickett had another solid year roping steers, so he returns to the Lazy E this weekend for his 13th NFSR qualification. He won three event titles: the Coleman (Texas) PRCA Rodeo, the Ken Lance Memorial Rodeo in Ada, Okla.; and the Lea County Fair and Rodeo in Lovington, N.M.
The latter was a big-money rodeo that propelled Wickett into the top 10 in the world standings and secured his trip to Guthrie this weekend.
It’s one thing to plan on retirement, or, as he puts it, spending more time at home. It’s quite another when J.P. Wickett just keeps winning.
LANDON McCLAUGHERTY, Tilden, Texas
It’s been three years since Landon McClaugherty last played on this stage. He just missed the mark last year, finishing the regular season 16th in the steer roping world standings.
Even though he hasn’t been part of the elite field at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, McClaugherty has continued to be one of the greatest all-around cowboys in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. In addition to finishing among the top 15 in steer roping, the Texan also is among the leaders in the all-around standings.
But that’s nothing unusual. McClaugherty won 16 titles in 2012, 10 of which were all-around crowns. Of the more than $30,000 he won in steer roping this year, none of it came with a title. That’s just solid proof of the consistent talent he possesses.
But you’ll get to see that plenty over these two days of competition.