By Ruth Nicolaus/for the Kansas’ Biggest Rodeo committee
PHILLIPSBURG, Kan. – A world champion and a former Phillipsburg rodeo champion are in the lead after the first night of slack competition at Kansas’ Biggest Rodeo.
The reigning tie-down roping champion Tuf Cooper shared the lead with Jerome Schneeberger after their 8.5 second runs.
Cooper, who is a three-time world champion, loves coming to Phillipsburg. It’s “one of my dad’s favorite rodeos,” he said, referring to his father, eight-time world champion Roy Cooper. “He loved it.”
And the loyal fans at the rodeo impressed Tuf.
“It’s a Tuesday night slack, and there’s a crowd,” he said. “These are rodeo fans. I’ve been to performances here and they’re sold out. I remember, being nine years old and playing with all the other kids. My brother Clif won the mutton busting here when he was six or seven.”
In Phillipsburg, Cooper rode his 11-year-old horse Big Slick, who is just off the injured reserve list after being at the veterinarian’s for a year.
“He’s one of my favorites,” Cooper said. “He has a great attitude. He’s fun and he’s a winner. He does everything in the arena he’s supposed to, and he’s fun outside the arena. He has the coolest personality.”
Nick Guy, who won the Phillipsburg rodeo in 2011, is leading the steer wrestling with a time of 3.9 seconds and is on a high after last week when he won at Cheyenne Frontier Days.
“When you’re winning,” Guy said, “it’s a snowball effect. It’s a good way to start this week. We have Dodge City (Kan.) and Sidney, Iowa, next, and to start like that, with a 3.9 (second run), is nice.”
His win at Cheyenne last week jumped him from 16th in the world standings to seventh, and gave Guy a bit of breathing room as the rodeo season drives forward.
“I have $51,000 won, so I’m in a good spot right now,” he said. “I have 30 rodeos left, so I’m in the position where winning a couple thousand here, and a couple thousand there, will go a long ways for me.”
Guy rode fellow steer wrestler Cody Kroul’s horse, Roanie, who was his mount at last year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The horse got hurt and was out for a few months, and Guy hadn’t ridden him since March.
“I’m excited about riding him the rest of the year,” Guy said. “That horse got me to the NFR last year, and I’m excited about getting back on him, and going back to Vegas and trying to win a world championship on him.”
Other leaders after the first night of slack include three teams who each made 4.6 second runs: Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, Coleman Proctor/Jake Long, and Clay Smith/Paul Eaves. Barrel racers Lauren Magdeburg, Roland, Okla., and Ashlie Whithrow, Henryetta, Okla. lead their event with times of 17.71 seconds.
The second night of slack takes place July 29, with three nights of rodeo to follow on July 30-Aug. 1. The public may buy associate memberships, which entitle the bearer to a steak supper on July 29, preferred parking, and the chance to win trips to the NFR and a John Deere Gator. Associate memberships are available at First National Bank in Phillipsburg (785.543.6511.) For more information on the rodeo and results, click on www.kansasbiggestrodeo.com.