Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

by | Oct 5, 2022 | Youth Rodeo, Playdays, Shows, Rodeo

Cashin and Cannin Carson #9.5 Champions [Photo: Clinton Foster Photography]

team \ˈtēm\

  • two or more people working together

The word ‘team’ came in so many forms this past week, September 26-October 2, at the Wrangler National Team Roping Championships (WTRC) in Billings, Montana.

There was your initial team roping teams entered with a header and a heeler, skillfully working as a team to not break a barrier and rope horns and feet, facing to a flag for consistent, fast times. There was your team of family and friends that were there for support in every form. There were teams of horses at work simultaneously, giving their hearts run after run.

And there were teams from various states that encouraged each other, cheered on each other forming an ultimate team that brought home more than $200k in winnings back to the Dakotas, a new Dodge Ram pickup truck, saddles, and buckles.

Win or lose, no one in the arena could deny the electric enthusiasm that spread across the arena and stands when one of our own was roping. Whether they were partnered with someone from Montana, Wyoming, or Canada, the Dakotas, joy rang true.

“One of the neat things about being at the WTRC finals was when our North Dakota ropers were in the arena, everybody just cheered for them. I see a huge support with family and friends from all these parents. At the end of the day, you can draw a good steer or a bad steer, but this team roping was a complete family affair, and I was thrilled to watch these North Dakota youth rope,” Dan Reis, team roper from Bismarck.

Thousands of team roping runs took place and more than a million dollars in cash and prizes left the Metra Park Coliseum — memories were made, and stars evolved.

Braden Hutchison, 13, of Watford City, brought down the house when he finished roping his short go steer in the #9.5 truck roping with a short seven second run. With more than 1,000 teams entered, the top 30 were brought back to the short go to rope for superior prize money and the most points gathered up resulted in a set of keys to the championship truck. Braden had to be under 7.5 seconds on his run to cinch the win. Under pressure and lighting a fire, the duo of Braden Hutchison and Bodee Ekstrom did just that, taking home first place. Cavin Murnion heeled one down for Braden for a second-place finish, getting Braden the high point earner of the roping.

Hutchison and Ekstrom #9.5 Champions [Photo: WTRC]

When asked the question, who is going to drive the truck? Braden’s father, Jerome Hutchison, laughed, “That’s the big question. Braden is ready to hook it up and let us drive with horses to Arizona soon. Braden gets his permit in June, so it won’t be long, and he can take the wheel. As for how the week was, well, we are all still in shock. The success of everyone around us and being with our family was one of the best weeks and Braden thinks that for sure.”

Team roping is a family occurrence and lifestyle for the Hutchinsons. They have been coming to the WTRC Finals for 17 years. Older brother, Hayden, and younger sister, Cassidy, all rope with their parents, Jerome and Kelsie. Cassidy, 10, was entered in the All-Girl Roping at the finals, the #7.5 and was a flag carrier for the grand entry. Jerome won the #14.5 Gold Digger with native North Dakotan, Levi O’Keefe. Jerome and Hayden also placed very well in other ropings throughout the week.

Cassidy Hutchison, Guest WTRC Flag Carrier [Photo: submitted]

“We just pool our entries and our winnings together and keep everything positive. So, when one of us wins, we all win. The main thing about roping or anything is, if you don’t maintain a good attitude and positivity through ups and downs, it’s a lot harder to win,” added Hutchison, “There is a group of young ropers from the Dakotas that are amazing, and it is showing. The crazy thing is it’s the parents that haul other kids or loan horses out, and how everyone does whatever it takes to support the youth. We are so thankful for that and for Fast Back ropes keeping our family hooked up with fresh twines.”

The Carson team of brothers, Cashin and Cannin, took home more than $20k and matching buckles, winning the #9 championships. The team hasn’t won a roping at this level together until now. The success they had this summer at the National Junior High Finals coming home as Reserve National Team Roping Champions was no small feat either. At the end of the day, they are still brothers.

The brothers’ biggest and most annoying argument in the Carson household is what rope horse is the best. “There is a lot of horse swapping that has happened around here. One brother might invest time and energy in a horse and the other one thinks he needs it. I think they are finally realizing when a horse might not fit them,” explained Dawn Carson, mom of the boys. Cashin rode DC Down Home Guy also known as ‘Friday’, a six-year-old gelding, while Cannin rode ‘Pearl’, DC PlayRocket, who is ten years old, to the pay window of more than $20,000.

The boys explained that even though living in North Dakota can be challenging to rope in the winter, they love being close to family and the great hunting. The entire family ‘digs deep’ to keep working towards goals on those blistery, wintery days. The boys do an excellent job of helping and motivating each other.

“They realize they are a team and seeing that as a parent is great. The best and most supportive people live up here. Always cheering and encouraging all the ropers on. They are thankful for the endless number of steers they get to rope in the summer, thanks to their grandpa Ron Carson and uncle Monty Carson and their great supportive friends and family,” confirmed their mom.

Bringing on the lady and girl teams from around the country was the All-Girl Roping held mid-week. 204 female teams were entered, roping three steers to a short-go steer-number four. The young gun header, Kally Sorenson, of Watford, teamed up with veteran, Patty Jo Burress, Isabell, on the heel side. The duo made the short go in the top 5 and won 3rd in the #8.5 incentive. Burress also won 6th in the average overall with Nancy Irvine. Burress’s boys, Sage and Hayes, and husband all brought home checks to the family South Dakota ranch.

All Girl Roping Superstars Kally Sorenson (right) and Patty Jo Burress (left) [Photo: submitted]

“I think it is fantastic for young girls, ladies, and for veteran women to rope together. There are some tough young girl ropers around because of that. It is so fun to watch and to compete in. I was honored when Kally Sorenson texted me and asked me to rope in it,” said Patty Jo Burress, veteran ‘lady’ roper.

Kally’s brothers, Tel and Stran Sorenson, also brought back some big checks to their Watford City home and ranch. Their mom, Kadie, was in the stands, racing back and forth from arenas to video her three ropers, as well as anyone else she could fit in. Kadie is a team in herself, taking care of the ropers and the kids left back in the stands, always a smile on her face, this cowgirl gets the ‘most supportive’ award.

Blu Miller heeling on Chocolate [Photo: Clinton Foster Photography]

Another set of brothers shined in different ends of the arena. Blu Miller, Bismarck, took home the #10.5 Gold Digger Championship with Clay Elkington, of Idaho, placed in the #10 Championship with Jerome Hutchison and won the #7.5 Championship with Tate Poppe, of Montana, all on the heeling side. He won a pocket full of cash, a new saddle, and buckles. Burleigh County was represented by his younger brother in the five-year-old and under dummy roping, where River Peek won 2nd place.

PeeWee Dummy Ropers River Peek (left) and Tinzon Hill (right) [Photo: submitted]

The five-year-old said that he was waiting all week to rope on Saturday at the kids’ dummy roping. He won an engraved trophy and a gift certificate, which he used to buy another rope and rope bag. The family affair was truly their best week of the season. A lot of ice cream and concession food was eaten, keeping up with the marathon week of roping.

And it didn’t stop there with Burleigh County. Breece Oakland, 12, of Bismarck, placed 6th in the #9.5 Gold Digger roping with Sern Weishaar, of Belle Fourche, S.D.

“All of these kids are so well-grounded. They are all just great youth and competitors at the same time. My son, Kash, had some ups and downs at the finals, but when his friends are out there roping, he is as happy for them as if he won. We try and keep everything mentally positive and in check when competing and keeping all these kids lifted,” explained Kori Berdahl, roping mom, Watford City.

The countless teams and the army it took to produce a roping of this stature and caliber, year after year, is forever remembered by all who competed, watched and was a part of it. Thank you to the Wrangler National Team Roping Championships and all the sponsors that make this a reality.

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