Archive for March, 2014

postheadericon Brothers have bronc connection

Cody Wright

Cody Wright

GUTHRIE, Okla. – It wasn’t that long ago that the best known bronc riding brothers were the Etbauers.

These days, though, there is a multitude of elite bronc riding brothers: the Wrights from Utah, the DeMosses from Louisiana and the Crawleys from Texas. Combined they own 36 qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and three world championships.

They also are well represented at this year’s Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Lazy E Arena.

Jacobs Crawley

Jacobs Crawley

Heith DeMoss will be his family’s lone representative in central Oklahoma, earning the right through the Southeastern Circuit without older brother, Cody. Jacobs Crawley won the year-end and average titles in the Texas Circuit, and his little brother, Sterling, was the runner-up. The same thing happened in the Wilderness Circuit, where two-time world champ Cody Wright won both titles and younger brother Jake finished second.

They’ll all be inside the Lazy E, joining several other elite bronc riders, including NFR qualifiers Cody Martin and Josh Reynolds, and the reigning National Champion, Curtis Garton.

It all makes for a classic competition in ProRodeo’s classic event.


postheadericon McCoys spint to runner-up finish

In this Route Marker, Cowboy brothers Cord, left, and Jet McCoy make their way to the Heritage Ambepussa Rest House before heading to the Pit Stop on the All-Star edition of "The Amazing Race." (CBS PHOTO)

In this Route Marker, Cowboy brothers Cord, left, and Jet McCoy make their way to the Heritage Ambepussa Rest House before heading to the Pit Stop on the All-Star edition of “The Amazing Race.” (CBS PHOTO)

The sixth leg of “The Amazing Race” turned into a sprint for The Cowboys, Jet and Cord McCoy.

The brothers from southeastern Oklahoma are one of seven teams remaining in the race around the world for $1 million in the CBS-TV reality series now in its 24th season. They maneuvered through Sri Lanka on the Sunday, March 30, episode, then raced across a sandy beach to the finish line, finishing second to Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran.

“You always hate to win second,” Jet McCoy said. “It just kind of stings a little.”

The cowboys have finished at or near the top for half the race so far. They won two of the first four legs, then came in a close runner-up in the sixth episode. They know how important it is to do well, but the key is being the first to cross the finish during the 12th episode, the season finale. This marks the third time the brothers have been on a season of “The Amazing Race,” first in Season 16 in 2010, then again a year later in Season 18.

The teams started the sixth leg in Colombo, Sri Lanka, leaving the mat third in the early-morning hours behind the father-son team of Dave and Connor O’Leary and the country singers, Jennifer Wayne and Caroline Cutbirth. Their first stop was the Dutch Museum in Colombo, where they got their next clues.

“Jet and I are competitors,” Cord said as the duo took off. “I don’t know if we were born that way or just grew up that way.”

His brother agreed.

“That’s the sense of competition,” Jet said. “You’ve just got to keep stepping up your game. You’ve got to keep getting better every game.”

Since the groups left so early, they were all at the museum’s door when it opened at 8:30 a.m. They received their clues, which directed them to the train station and a trip to the town of Alawwa; each of the teams was on the same train and exited the train in Alawwa to find their first Road Block at a fueling station.

One member of each team had to place 3 liters of fuel into four correctly color-coded Tuk-Tuks, tiny three-wheeled vehicles that served as taxis in Sri Lanka – the Tuk-Tuks had to have a colored rectangle near the windshield that matched the color being carried by each team member. Cord handled the job for the McCoys and rounded up his four Tuk-Tuks in quick order. The next clue took the teams back to the train station, where they were to travel to the town of Rambukkana; all teams were on that train, too.

At Rambukkana, the teams traveled by Tuk-Tuk to the Millennium Elephant Foundation, a sanctuary for rescued elephants. That’s where they found the episode’s Detour: one half was Trunk, where teams worked with an elephant to move timber to a truck; the other half of the Detour was Sheets, where teams mixed elephant dung with shredded paper and water to make more paper.

The cowboys chose Trunks and were the first team to the Detour. Once there, they learned how to set the chain around the log so an elephant could carry the large log to the truck, then The Cowboys were to load smaller pieces of timber. Once they got six large logs loaded, they moved on.

“Growing up on a ranch, we’ve always kind of done those kind of things,” Jet said. “If I was going to tie a chain to a log, that would’ve been how I would’ve done it.

“I could see some of the other teams having trouble.”

The brothers were the first to accomplish their mission.

“The elephant would walk up there and wrap (a specialty piece attached to the chain) with his trunk, then lift it up with his mouth to where he could pick it up,” Cord said. “It was incredible.”

The McCoys left the elephant sanctuary first but were closely followed by Temory and Zadran. Their next stop was at the Ambepussa Rest House, where they listened to the playing of a flute-like instrument by a wise man. The brothers were the first there, too, and received the clue that took them to the Pit Stop, the finish line for Leg 6.

“Fast, fast, fast,” Zadran told his taxi driver. “We need to be No. 1 … The Cowboys. Those dang cowboys.”

The teams’ taxis traded leads. Even Jet noted to his younger brother that they were going to have to race to the finish.

“I’ll outrun the slow one,” Jet said, joking with Cord. “You take the fast one.”

The McCoys’ taxi reached the Mount Lavinia Hotel Beach first. Then the race was on, with the Afghanimals taking the victory.

“We finally beat The Cowboys,” Zadran said, noting that it was the first victory for him and Temory this season.

The engaged couple, John Erck and Jessica Hoel, finished third in a close race with the O’Learys. The newlyweds, Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly, were fifth, and The Globetrotters, Herbert Lang and Nate Lofton, placed sixth. Wayne and Cutbirth came in last in the non-elimination leg of the race.

The show will be on a one-week hiatus with no broadcast on April 6 because of CBS-TV’s showing of the Academy of Country Music Awards. The show returns Sunday, April 13.

postheadericon Carr taking top stock to Guymon

GUYMON, Okla. – Pete Carr has been the primary stock contractor for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo for several years.

Over time, he’s become the talk of the town.

Guymon Pioneer Days Logo“Fans tell us all the time what they like about our rodeo, and one of the big things is the great livestock,” said Earl Helm, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“Pete has the best bucking stock in rodeo, but he’s not afraid to bring in other stock contractors to make sure we have a great show.”

The accolades are nice, but the reason Carr produces rodeos is found deep in his love for the sport.

Over the years, Pete Carr Pro Rodeo has been recognized as one of the top livestock firms in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Last year alone, Carr was nominated for the prestigious honor of Stock Contractor of the Year; meanwhile, 27 Carr animals were selected to perform at ProRodeo’s grand finale, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“We’ve certainly been blessed with some great success in the last few years,” Carr said. “We have a great group of hard-working people who care about the sport and everything that goes into it.”

The success is attractive to rodeo fans who flock to the Oklahoma Panhandle in May.

“It’s great when we get to the NFR and see all those animals that had bucked at our rodeo,” Helm said.

Members of the committee aren’t the only ones who recognize Carr’s animals.

“He’s not even going to have a B pen before long,” said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La., and the reigning Guymon champ. “He’s going to have an A plus and an A pen. He’s got an eye for horses, and he’s surrounded himself with people who know what they’re talking about. You want to go to Pete’s rodeos, because you’re going to get on something.”

For the 2014 season, the Carr firm will produce more than 30 rodeos and will have livestock at a number of other events across the country. It takes a great team and outstanding animal athletes to make those events successful, and Pete Carr Pro Rodeo has both.

“We work really hard all year to produce the rodeos and feature the stock that will draw the top cowboys,” Carr said.

At the NFR this past December, Carr was represented by 12 bareback horses, five saddle broncs and 10 bulls – that’s proof of the all-around talent that spends most of its time on lush grassland at Carr’s ranch near Athens, Texas.

“It shows you Pete is somebody that puts a lot of work into getting the best horses around,” said Heath Ford, a three-time NFR qualifier from Slocum, Texas. “They’ve not only got the best horses, but they put them out there for us to see. He has a lot of great horses that weren’t selected this year, but if you care about it, you know you’re going to continue to build that program.

“We all know Pete is going to continue to build that. We all have a lot of respect for him.”

That’s why the contestants make it a point to compete at Carr rodeos. Cowboys know their best chance to win is to be matched with a great partner.

“Pete has put together a good set of bulls,” said J.W. Harris, the four-time and reigning bull riding world champion from Mullin, Texas. “I think he wants to show that he’s got great bulls to go with his great horses.

“You know when you go to his rodeos you’re going to get on a good one. I like going to Pete’s rodeos because he’s got good people who work for him, but having all those good animals sure makes it easier for us to go to. Pete Carr’s come a long ways in just a few years.”

postheadericon Change the message from hate

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fred Phelps died last week, and though it isn’t a story on rodeo, this opinion piece is one I’d like to tell, so here goes:

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo

Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

I met Fred Phelps in 1990 in the small Citizen-Patriot office in tiny Atwood, Kan., as the man best known for being a hate enthusiast was making his first bid for the Kansas governor’s office against the incumbent, Mike Hayden, who grew up in Atwood.

Besides Atwood Buffalo sports, it was the northwest Kansas community’s claim to fame, and I was in my rookie year of being a professional journalist. What I learned the day was that Phelps was a very intelligent, yet misguided soul who actually thought he had a chance to be the state’s chief executive.

Fred Phelps was the longtime leader of Westboro Baptist Church, an organization best known for hateful messages regarding homosexuality. Phelps died last week. (PHOTO FROM GAWKER.COM)

Fred Phelps was the longtime leader of Westboro Baptist Church, an organization best known for hateful messages regarding homosexuality. Phelps died last week. (PHOTO FROM GAWKER.COM)

It was only a taste of the misguided nature that Phelps carried with him. As the founder and longtime leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps spewed his hate-filled messages for the world to see. He denounced homosexuality and picketed funerals proclaiming a simple message: “God Hates Fags.”

As most Christians reveal in their faith, God doesn’t hate, so Westboro Baptist’s primary cause drew the ire of millions. Members picketed the funerals of soldiers who had given their lives for our country; they picketed the funerals of children.

And they preached hate.

There will be no funeral for Fred Phelps, and no reason has been given. There are many who call for a crusade against Phelps and his posse, a display that would lash back at Westboro Baptist’s decades-old tactic of free expression.

The problem with that method would be sinking to the church’s message of hate.

My wish would be that we pepper the congregation with something they haven’t seen in years: We share God’s love in their time of grief and offer them condolences and true prayers.

That’s what the Phelps family and the members of the Westboro Baptist Church need most. It might just aggravate the tar out of them, but it’s the right thing to do.

postheadericon Team ropers have to battle Barnes

GUTHRIE, Okla. – It’s been a few years since Jake Barnes last won a team roping world championship.

RNCFR_2014wCities-NEWEST-smallerIt’s OK. He owns seven heading gold buckles, the last of which came two decades ago. He is still one of the greatest ropers on the rodeo trail. Proof of that is in the 25 qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but one also could point to the four championships at the Ram National Circuit Finials Rodeo.

He leads an amazing list of top-name team ropers who will be part of ProRodeo’s National Championship, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Lazy E Arena.

He’ll be joined by headers Brandon Beers, Ty Blasingame, Nick Sartain, Colby Lovell, Justin Davis and Dustin Bird; the top heelers are Jim Ross Cooper, Travis Graves, Ryan Motes and Cory Petska.

There are dozens of NFR qualifications among that crew and a few gold buckles. But that’s what fans have come to expect in central Oklahoma each spring when the top contestants in the game battle for that elusive National Title.

postheadericon Carr rodeo is like a family affair

John Gwatney bows his head in prayer prior to a recent rodeo performance. Gwatney and his wife, Sandy, are a big part of the Pete Carr Pro Rodeo family.

John Gwatney bows his head in prayer prior to a recent rodeo performance. Gwatney and his wife, Sandy, are a big part of the Pete Carr Pro Rodeo family.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – When Pete Carr established his rodeo company years ago, he knew he needed a great team of talented people to help him along the way.

What Carr found was a family atmosphere, one very similar to the rodeo lifestyle itself. Crew members work, travel and celebrate together during the 30-plus rodeo season. Nobody in the sport epitomizes that family togetherness more than John and Sandy Gwatney, the husband-wife tandem that are a big part of the Carr brand.

“Everybody knows their job, and everybody knows where they need to fill in if something goes astray,” said John Gwatney, the production supervisor for Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo, the livestock firm that will produce the Nacogdoches ProRodeo & Steer Show, set for 7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 27-Saturday, March 29, at the Nacogdoches County Arena.

Gwatney and Carr work closely together making sure every aspect of a rodeo’s production goes off as flawlessly as possible. They lean on each other and the rest of the crew to put on the best competition and showcase as possible.

Of course, John Gwatney leans on nobody more than his wife and traveling partner, Sandy, a secretary/timer/do-it-all cowgirl who is a big part of the rodeo’s success.

“She’s my best friend, and she knows as much about the production as anybody going,” he said. “Whether she’s timing or is the secretary or is carrying the American flag, she knows the importance of what we do and why we do it. That’s a lady that there’s no job that’s too little or too big for her.”

That’s a quality that is a shared among the talented Carr team.

“The thing about John and Sandy is that they’re very good at everything they do, and they’re very selfless,” said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based livestock company. “They have been with us since the beginning, and they are an integral part of making each of our rodeos work.

“I believe we have the best crew in rodeo, people who work hard and care about everyone: the fans, the committees and the contestants. That’s important.”

The Gwatneys grew up in California – Sandy in the northern portion, John in the south. They have been together since the fall of 1996, and they’re lives have centered around rodeo.

“The reason why I time or secretary is because I like being part of the rodeo,” Sandy Gwatney said. “Since we’re not competing anymore, this is a way for me to be part of it. I really like my job, and that’s why I do it. I’m a people person.”

She is, and it’s been a tremendous benefit to the rodeos she works, because she knows so many people in the sport. There’s something that comes with having those relationships, but there’s so much more that goes into rodeo. One common theme among members of the Carr crew is a love for the sport.

“I have a passion for horses in general,” she said. “I love watching a good bucking horse work as much as I love watching a good bulldogging horse or calf roping horse work. I absolutely love steer roping horses because they’re so disciplined and so intent on their jobs.

“I love animals and watching the animals work. I’m sure that has a definite advantage in my position. We’re doing our jobs, and the animals are doing theirs.”

When it all comes together, it’s a job well done. That’s what happens when people are passionate about the work they do.

“I love the sport,” John Gwatney said. “While most people wanted to go play football and baseball and stuff, all I wanted to do was go to another rodeo.

“A lot of it has to do with the love of animals, but then there’s the production side. If we can, for two hours a day, help people forget their problems and have a good time, then I feel that I’ve done my job, whether I’m running the bucking-chute end or the timed-event end or competing. I’m just taking people away from their worries for a couple hours each day, and it makes a big difference in my life.”

Rodeo is one of those hybrid events in which quality entertainment is mixed with world-class competition.

“We are always aware that we have an obligation toward the contestant, and a big part of our job is to make sure everybody at our rodeo has an equal shot to win,” John Gwatney said. “Mentally I’m still a contestant. Every stock contractors dream has been to buck everybody off, but without the 90-point ride, there is no rodeo.

“The contestants know I competed. I rode bulls for eight years. I’ll listen, and they know that. I want what’s right for the contestant. I want them all to have the same shot.”

It not only is the respect for others, but it’s a respect for the game. Rodeo is a rare breed in which humans match their skills against animal athletes. It’s a showcase of true athleticism.

That’s the Carr rodeo specialty. In 2013, there were 27 Carr animals selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand championship. Over the years, there have been three world champion bucking horses: Real Deal, Big Tex and MGM Deuces Night.

“The thing I like about Pete Carr is he keeps people working together who like to work together so their jobs more enjoyable,” Sandy Gwatney said. “You keep your foundation solid. If everybody gets along, it makes it that much more fun.”

That’s the key to a strong team, which is one of the strongest aspects of the Carr product. Of course, it all starts at home for the Gwatneys.

“I’m lucky enough to have my best friend travel with me and make it a successful event no matter where we go,” John Gwatney said.

At the heart of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo is family. It’s what makes everything click.

postheadericon McCoys place third, advance in race

Cowboy brothers Jet, left, and Cord McCoy make their way to the Pit Stop at the Colombo Rowing Club during the Sunday, March 23, episode of "The Amazing Race." The Cowboys finished third in the fifth leg of the race around the world for $1 million. (CBS PHOTO)

Cowboy brothers Jet, left, and Cord McCoy make their way to the Pit Stop at the Colombo Rowing Club during the Sunday, March 23, episode of “The Amazing Race.” The Cowboys finished third in the fifth leg of the race around the world for $1 million. (CBS PHOTO)

Being a cowboy means tackling any task necessary to handle any job before him.

That philosophy came in quite handy for Jet and Cord McCoy during the fifth leg of “The Amazing Race” All-Star Edition, which was broadcast Sunday, May 23, on CBS-TV. The ranch-raised brothers from the southeastern Oklahoma community of Tupelo overcame traveling obstacles, a fishing adventure and a sewing machine to finish in third place and continue the race around the world for $1 million.

The McCoys were the first team in the fifth leg of the race, which began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, leaving 47 minutes ahead of the second-place team, the father-son tandem of Dave and Connor O’Leary. The eight teams were directed to a travel agency, where they were to find a flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to continue their chase for the big money.

“I’m pretty excited that we get to leave the mat first today,” Cord said. “We know we’ve got to keep our game face on.”

That’s true. The high-stakes scavenger hunt means overcoming all the obstacles, and the first is travel. The first six teams in the race earned the first direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Colombo at 11 p.m., while the final two had to scramble to make their way along their trail.

“(In) this race, the travel can make or break you, by far,” Jet said, who, like his brother, learned to improvise his travel arrangements as needed as The Cowboys made their way from one rodeo to another in a lifetime filled with high-level competition.

Travel trouble struck the final two teams, newlyweds Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly and the mother-son team of Margie O’Donnell and Luke Adams. Since they were unable to make the first flight, Villegas and Reilly scrambled and took a riskier move to connect through Singapore, while O’Donnell and Adams hoped to increase their odds on standby.

The Newlyweds left Kuala Lumpur first, then rushed to make their connecting flight in Singapore, arriving in Colombo first. They made it to the Gangaramaya Temple first, but quickly found out they had to wait until the temple opened several hours later at 5:45 a.m. That allowed all six teams on the direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to catch up.

Once each team member was blessed by Buddha monks, they made their way by train to King Coconut Stand in Galle, Sri Lanka, to receive their next clue. That meant the first seven teams were on the same train together, which allowed the country singers, Jennifer Wayne and Caroline Cutbirth, to reveal their fascination for The Cowboys.

“We like to be near the cowboys because they’re magical,” Cutbirth said. “Any of the magical powers we can get, we’re trying to rub it off on us.

“They’re the coolest guys on the planet. We were destined to be best friends.”

The coconut stand revealed only a clue to the leg’s Detour, which allowed the teams the option of either fishing handling a complicated local dance that included spinning plates. The McCoys opted for fishing.

“The locals give you a fishing pole and a bag,” Cord said. “You actually had to go out there and swim out in the ocean and climb up on a pole that’s got a little triangle that you sit on and hook your feet in and catch your fish and put it in your bag.”

Each team member had to catch one fish. The O’Learys were the first to accomplish the feat, while the McCoys were second. The Globetrotters, Herbert Lange and Nate Lofton, and The Afghanamals, Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran, were the first done with the spinning. Once done, the teams were directed to the Road Block at the Trendy Connections Garment Factory, where one member of each team was to sew a shirt together. Jet handled the assignment for The Cowboys.

“I’ve never sewn before,” he said. “It’s worse than a puzzle, because all of the puzzle pieces are moving.

“You don’t realize what goes into making a dadgum shirt until you make one.”

He made it relatively quickly, and the Oklahoma brothers were on their way to the Pit Stop. The O’Learys won the leg, followed by Wayne and Cutbirth. Jet and Cord McCoy were third.

O’Donnell and Adams, whose gamble on standby put them several hours behind the other teams leaving Kuala Lumpur, were well behind the pace through the episode and finished last. They were eliminated from the reality TV show.

That means the McCoys are one of just seven teams continuing the race around the globe.

postheadericon Schneeberger eager for national title

GUTHRIE, Okla. – The first time Jerome Schneeberger qualified for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, he was a 21-year-old young gun fresh off his inaugural appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Jerome Schneeberger

Jerome Schneeberger

Much has changed since 1998, but the Ponca City, Okla., cowboy remains one of the greatest tie-down ropers in the Prairie Circuit, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s region made up of contestants and rodeos primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. In fact, no other cowboy in the history of the circuit has won more year-end tie-down roping championships than Schneeberger, who secured his eighth title last season.

That means he returns for the ninth time for this year’s National Championship, scheduled for 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at the Lazy E Arena.

Schneeberger, who won the NFR average championship in 2001, is one of the numerous NFR qualifiers competing at the RNCFR, joining Coloradoan Josh Peek, Utah cowboy Clint Robinson and Texans Justin Maass and Adam Gray.

Now Schneeberger focuses his rodeo career on the circuit system. He hasn’t qualified for the NFR in three years, and he’s OK with it. Now he’d like to add the National Championship to his powerful resume. Maybe this is the year.

postheadericon McCoys rolling on ‘Amazing Race’

Cowboy brothers Cord, left, and Jet McCoy must mix seven cocktails and pour them simultaneously into a pyramid of glasses. Once the cocktails were made properly, they delivered them across a pool to receive the next clue Sunday, March 16, on Season 24 of The Amazing Race. (CBS PHOTO)

Cowboy brothers Cord, left, and Jet McCoy must mix seven cocktails and pour them simultaneously into a pyramid of glasses. Once the cocktails were made properly, they delivered them across a pool to receive the next clue Sunday, March 16, on Season 24 of The Amazing Race. (CBS PHOTO)

In his initial appearance on “The Amazing Race” four years ago, Cord McCoy created a catch phrase that took the reality TV show’s audience by storm.

His “Oh, my gravy” commentary may have been trumped during Sunday night’s fourth episode of Season 24, when the youngest of the two brothers on the show uttered a new tag line: “We’re like butter; we’re on a roll.”

Jet and Cord McCoy are hot, highlighted by their victory in the fourth leg of the race around the world for $1 million. The tandem used a considerable amount of energy and a handy dose of mixology while traipsing across Malaysia. For finishing first, The Cowboys scored a trip for two to London.

“We could not be more excited to be on our way to a Pit Stop,” Jet McCoy said as the two shared a cab ride from the final challenge to the Leg 4 finish in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “We’re thinking this could mean first place for us.”

But Cord stopped his older brother, saying, “We’ve been wrong before.”

“We were wrong for a million dollars once, as a matter of fact,” Jet said, referring to the brothers’ second-place finish during Season 16, the first of three times the Oklahoma cowboys have been on the CBS-TV reality series.

The McCoys began Sunday in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, two minutes behind the leaders, the father-son tandem of Dave and Connor O’Leary. Their first challenge, the Road Block, took place in Knota Kinabalu’s Prince Phillip Park, where one member of each team had to jump on a bamboo trampoline high enough to grab a flag hanging above them.

Cord tackled the task for The Cowboys, but he struggled. The brothers were the first to arrive at the park, but they were quickly passed by the O’Learys and the cousin team of Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran. In fact, it took Cord 47 attempts before he reached the flag; no team could obtain the next clue until finishing that job.

“The problem was that task required a lot of Cord-nation,” Jet said, joking about his brother’s struggle on the tramp.

Said Cord, “You just have to gather up all your energy and put it out on the line … again and again and again.”

The teams then made their way to the Kota Kinabalu airport, where the first three teams were to board the first plane to Kuala Lumpur. The McCoys joined the O’Learys and The Afghanamals on the first of three flights. The other teams, because of a flight delay, arrived about an hour and 15 minutes behind the leaders.

“I would say I’m jumping for joy,” Cord said about making the first flight, “but I’m out of hops.”

Once in Kuala Lumpor, all the teams made their way to a night club for the Detour: Either learning an elaborate disc jockey mix involving a scratching code or mixing an elaborate drink. The first three teams tried the drink, which proved to be more difficult given the balancing and pouring from a stack of glasses into martini glasses. What made it tougher was making sure none of the colors mixed from the stack to the specific martini glasses that were placed in the form of a seven-cup pyramid.

“We wouldn’t make good bartenders,” Jet said. “Between what we broke and spilled, we would owe them.”

The McCoys fared better than the others who tried. In fact, the cousins, Temory and Zadran, switched midway through the Detour to try their hand at scratching. Jet secured the right mix on the brothers’ 10th try. Once they received their next clue, The Cowboys made their way to a Hindu temple at the Batu Caves, where they met up with host Phil Keoghn and learned of their winning fate.

Sunday’s episode marked the second time in four legs that the McCoys won. They were followed by the O’Learys, who finished just ahead of The Afghanamals. The husband-wife tandem of Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly finished last in the non-elimination leg of the race, but they will have to endure a Speed Bump at some point in the show’s future.

The brothers still own their Express Pass, which gives them the chance to skip a challenge at any point in the race; it was their prize for winning the opening leg. That could come in handy at any point in the race should the McCoys find themselves behind the field.

That didn’t happen in the fourth episode. The Cowboys stayed in or near the lead throughout the show. It’s where they like to be.

postheadericon Champs eager to defend Guymon titles

Heith DeMoss rides Pete Carr's Classic Pro Rodeo's Spur Strap for 87 points to win the 2013 Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. He's one of nine champions who will defend their titles at this year's event, set for Friday, May 2-Sunday, May 3, in Guymon, Okla. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

Heith DeMoss rides Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Spur Strap for 87 points to win the 2013 Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo. He’s one of nine champions who will defend their titles at this year’s event, set for Friday, May 2-Sunday, May 3, in Guymon, Okla. (ROBBY FREEMAN PHOTO)

GUYMON, Okla. – Forgive Tyler Smith if he is a little greedy when he arrives in the Oklahoma Panhandle in a month and a half.

Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith

Smith, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo bull rider from Fruita, Colo., owns two Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo trophy belts; he’d like to win a third during the 2014 edition, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

Smith, who won his first championship in 2010 – the same year he first qualified for the NFR – earned his second belt last May, when he rode Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Rio Bravo for 93 points. With that, he earned $3,790, which helped propel him back to Las Vegas this past December, where he surely wore that coveted leather trophy and finished the season No. 3 in the world standings with more than $156,000 in earnings.

“It’s been good luck,” he said about Pioneer Days Rodeo. “I’ve had real good luck here. I love coming here.”

Rocky Patterson

Rocky Patterson

So do most of the top contestants in ProRodeo, nearly 1,000 of who find their way to Texas County every spring to compete at one of the most prestigious events on the circuit. In all, nine champions were crowned last spring. They know defending their titles will be tough. Take Rocky Patterson, the three-time steer roping world champion from Pratt, Kan., who claimed his second Pioneer Days title a season ago.

“This is pretty big because it’s a circuit rodeo, No. 1,” Patterson said, referring to the Prairie Circuit, made up of rodeos and contestants primarily from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. “No. 2, it’s just a great rodeo. The committee here does such a great job.”

Seth Hardwick

Seth Hardwick

The Kansan left town with the biggest payday of all contestants in the field, earning $8,347.

“It’s a rodeo with a lot of tradition, and it’s a nice one to win.”

Patterson is an alumnus of Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which is 10 miles southeast in the community of Goodwell. He is one of two former Panhandle State rodeo team members to earn Guymon titles, joining bareback rider Seth Hardwick of Laramie, Wyo.; he rode Pete Carr’s Night Bells for 88 points to earn the trophy belt.

“Guymon is like a hometown rodeo for me,” said Hardwick, who pocketed $4,147 in Texas County money last spring. “It feels great to be able to win this rodeo in front of those people. It’s one of the best rides I’ve ever had.”

Each of the roughstock events featured high-marked rides. Heith DeMoss, a five-time NFR qualifier from Heflin, La., matched moves with Pete Carr’s Spur Strap for 87 points to win saddle bronc riding.

“I’m so excited it’s ridiculous,” DeMoss said. “To be winning something at this rodeo is awesome. It’s a great rodeo. It’s a bronc riding-type nation around here, and I’m thrilled.”

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