CHANCE KELTON, Mayer, Ariz.
The last time Chance Kelton was in this arena, he suffered an injury behind the chutes and had to miss some of the action during the Timed Event Championship.
Don’t expect that this weekend, Kelton’s fourth qualification to the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. You see, the mishap in March was just a freak deal, but so is Kelton. He’s a roping freak, having qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times in team roping.
Kelton has had a strong season, but he knew that’s what it would take if he were going to return to the Lazy E Arena. He won steer roping titles at six rodeos: Pecos, Texas; Dodge City, Kan.; Safford, Ariz.; Silver City, N.M.; Lewiston, Idaho; and Spokane, Wash.
When he’s here, he’s pretty good. In addition to winning the Timed Event Championship, he finished second in the average at last year’s NFSR. Can he do it again?
You’ll find out very soon.
ROD HARTNESS, Pawhuska, Okla.
There’s not much in steer roping Rod Hartness hasn’t done.
The man from the Osage Territory of Oklahoma know what it takes to perform well in Pro Rodeo. This weekend marks the 15th time Hartness has qualified for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping. He’s done well in this fabulous arena before, from a runner-up finish in the average a dozen years ago to placing in four go-rounds last November.
In fact, Hartness earned a share of the first-round title with J.D. Yates during last year’s championship event.
Since turning pro 27 years ago, Hartness has won plenty. He has earned the championship in the Prairie Circuit multiple times, and he’s been in the mix at all the major rodeos across the country.
But what might be most telling is that Hartness is playing this weekend even though he didn’t win a single rodeo title during the 2012 season. He won money everywhere he went, and it paid off in a grand fashion.
DAN FISHER, Andrews, Texas
Dan Fisher is a 17-time National Finalist.
Yes, before he became a mainstay at the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, Fisher qualified in team roping for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. That was three decades ago when the NFR took place just a few miles away in downtown Oklahoma City.
Two seasons ago, he qualified with both sons, Vin and J. Tom; Vin returns to this year’s championship. Dan, though, has qualified for the NFSR in four decades: the 1980s, ’90s, ’00s and ’10s. That’s an astounding feat on its own merit. It’s proof of his talent; furthermore, it’s proof of his fortitude. Now 61 years old, he became the oldest National Finals qualifier two seasons ago; he’s just setting the mark even higher.
But that’s Dan Fisher in a nutshell. His father, Marvin, was a PRCA contestant, and now Dan is setting longevity records in the family’s name. His sons will carry on the legacy quite well.
But this weekend is as much about a wonderful career as anything else for Dan.
RALPH WILLIAMS, Skiatook, Okla.
Two and half years ago, Ralph Williams introduced himself to ProRodeo fans by winning the inaugural National Circuit Finals Steer Roping.
He’s not new the sport. Far from it, actually, but he’s competing in this weekend’s Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping for the second straight season. It’s quite an honor for an established veteran, but Williams has earned the right to play on this stage.
Of course, he waited until the last minute to do so. Williams placed in two rounds at the Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo on the final weekend of the 2012 Pro Rodeo season. The $2,265 he earned in Stephenville, Texas, moved Williams from 16th to 14th.
Now he’s here, and he’s ready to make a significant move inside the walls of the fabulous Lazy E Arena. Though he didn’t fare well last November, Williams has proven he has the talent to play with the biggest dogs in the game. Look for him to show it.
CODY SCHECK, Ellinwood, Kan.
Cody Scheck has had an up-and-down year.
But when he was up, Scheck was way up. On June 2 while roping at the Old Fort Days Rodeo in Fort Smith, Ark., the Kansas cowboy set a new world record with a 7.7-second run, beating the 7.9-second mark set by “The Legend,” Guy Allen. Yeah … that’s a pretty big up.
Still, Scheck saw several struggles through the season, too. He’s just happy to be in this weekend’s field. He is just two years removed from winning the average championship in this arena during the 2010 Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping.
This marks the fourth time in Scheck has qualified for the championship event. The first time was in 2005, the same season in which he was named the PRCA Resistol Steer Roping Rookie of the Year.
If the ups and downs of the 2012 campaign continue, he’s surely hoping everything’s on the rise at the Lazy E.