The steer roping spotlight is not too bright for Landon McClaugherty.
McClaugherty is a four-time qualifier for the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping (2009, 2012 and 2019-2012).
The Texas cowboy had his skills on display at the National Circuit Finals Steer Roping Saturday, taking the lead in the average with a 55.0-second time on four head at the Goshen Pavilion.
“I just went out there and tried to score good and tie them all down,” said McClaugherty, who is making his first appearance at the NCFSR. “This was good. I had some good steers and I got lucky.”
McClaughtery’s top run came when he won Round 2 with a 9.8-second time and earned $1,546.
The field of 33 ropers will compete in a six-head average. The event concludes at noon (MDT) Sunday. The final two rounds will complete the long round. The top eight finishers in the average will advance to the semifinals. The top four ropers from the semis will move on to compete in the sudden-death finals. The money won in Torrington counts toward the PRCA | RAM World Standings.
Only four cowboys roped all four steers Saturday. McClaugherty was followed by Jess Tierney (57.5 seconds), Howdy McGinn (62.2 seconds) and Matthew Scott Jones (78.7 seconds)
McClaugherty, 41, is riding Joey, 16, a horse he has owned since 2013.
“He was a head horse and he’s now my No. 1 steer horse since I lost my horse, Dually, 15, two weeks before the NFSR last year when he had a heart attack,” McClaugherty said. “I started out on a different horse at the NFSR last year and I didn’t do very good the first two rounds, so I got on Joey and finished the NFSR on him and I have been riding him ever since. Joey has crossed over really good to the steer roping.”
McClaugherty finished seventh in the 2020 world standings with $57,408. He earned $10,945 at the NFSR in Mulvane, Kan.
McClaugherty has a simple approach for Sunday.
“Score good, tie them down and see what happens,” McClaugherty said. “I try and take my first shot every time and if it isn’t there, I will take another swing.”
Like McClaugherty, Tierney is no stranger to steer roping success. The Hermosa, S.D., cowboy is an eight-time NFSR qualifier. He split Round 6 and won Rounds 7, 8 and 9 outright at the 2020 NFSR. He finished fifth in the world standings with $70,103.
“I just try not to get in too big of a hurry here (at the NCFSR),” Tierney said. “A guy can take some chances and get some round money, but the big money is at the end. My goal (Saturday) was to just rope sharp and use my horse and get them tied down.”
Tierney is using a horse he bought last year named Dr Pepper, 17.
“I rode him at the NFSR and all this year,” Tierney said. “He’s pretty versatile. If I need to go at one, I can use him that way and you can just run up there and get them tied down as well. My approach for Sunday is going to be the same. If one throws his head up, I will try and get some round money, but I just came here to try and tie steers down.
“The people who put this on, they love steer roping and we look forward to coming here every year, so until they quit opening the chute, I’m going to try to keep roping.”
Things were tough going early Saturday as only nine ropers were able to tie down two steers in the first two rounds. After three rounds, that number was reduced to five and through four rounds it was down to four.
Defending champion Ora Taton has some work to do to get in the semifinals, after posting a 31.3-second time on two head.
Rocky Patterson, a four-time steer roping world champion (2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016), is in the hunt to win his third NCFSR title to go with the ones he captured in 2012 and 2019.
Patterson has a 33.8-second time on three head. He recorded a no-time in Round 2. He won Round 3 with the fastest run of the day at 9.7 seconds and was second in Round 4 (11.2 seconds) and fourth in Round 1 (12.9 seconds). He earned $3,093.
Shay Good (10.5 seconds) and Troy Tillard (11.0 seconds) won Rounds 1 and 4, respectively.
For more information for Wrangler NFR, please visit www.nfrexperience.com. and ProRodeo.com. Check out our latest news at www.wranglernfrlive.com or through social media at /LasVegasNFR and use #WranglerNFR.