A team roper born and raised in Grand Junction split the win in the first of 10 rounds at the 53rd Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday night. Brock Hanson, 27, roped his steer with his partner Ryan Motes in 4.7 seconds to earn $16,343.
“A lot of teams were left to go behind me,” said Hanson. “You always hope your time will stay on top, but in the back of your mind, you can’t expect it.”
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. Hanson is an NFR rookie who entered the Super Bowl of Rodeo in 11th place in the world team roping standings. Earlier this season, he and Motes tied the world record for roping a steer in 3.3 seconds in Texas.
After his win in the NFR’s first round, Hanson – an Olathe high school graduate – moved up to 10th in the championship standings. Hanson remains some $50,000 behind leader Trevor Brazile. 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.
“You can prepare and study and practice, but you don’t know the emotions you’ll feel when you’re three teams back and they’re calling your name,” Hanson said. “You can’t practice for that.”
Motes of Weatherford, Texas, roping at his second NFR, believes the arena at UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center fits his partner perfectly, and he expects the ropers to get even faster toward the middle of the week.