Saturday, March 2, 2013


How’d you like to run a 3-minute mile and just before you cross the finish line Usain Bolt goes by you?  You sprinted your ass off, fighting in mini “Katrina” conditions, to make record speed, yet win a lowly 2nd place.  Well, that’s what happened to team Clay Tryan and Travis Graves, the other day at the “Mike Cervi” memorial roping in Casa Grande, AZ. 

Flirting with snow flurries and pelting hail (roping conditions in sunny Arizona were not exactly turf paradise) Tryan and Graves were watertight, finishing around 30 on 5.  Then suddenly, zipping right passed them came fearless Rodgers and flawless Petska, in an amazing 29 on 5, proving themselves to be the perfect storm that day.   

Definitely the crème de la crème, with no consideration of the environmental threats, Cory Petska and Eric Rodgers roped (as usual) phenomenally, like they were in a climate-controlled office, burning by all their alleged opponents who all believe they are the next generation to make up the top echelon of today’s pros.  Though I keep expecting changes in the leader board because there is so much volatile talent out there, it seems no matter how you pour it, no matter where you go, in remarkable fashion the same old cream continues to settle on the top. 

Why does the cream always rise to the top?  Why do the Lebron Jameses, Michael Jordans, Magic Johnsons, Joe Montanas, Tom Bradys, Jade Corkels and Chad Masterses of the day, always excel at a steeper angle?  Why do certain athletes relentlessly dominate, every time they compete?  One would reason, “talent”, of course, but I’ve seen unbelievable talent in many a backyard that can‘t win a guy a cup of coffee once he crosses the gate.  How about Corey Petska?   The fastest heeler today, being left out of the finals last year?  That was a disappointment, and I believe it was because he didn’t go hard enough.  For whatever reasons--I don’t think he could connect with the right team roping relationship (the other can of worms regarding team roping success), be it partner chemistry, or who knows--Corey just didn’t show the drive it takes to govern a finals hole.  He is a fireball and quite possibly the best today, yet his case validates the vast challenging-factors of a team roper’s success.

Bottom line, domineering athletes have a relentless way of taking their performance to peak level in exigent times.  They don’t entertain intimidation, be it weather, cocky opponents, opposing predictions, personal problems, etc.  On game day, it’s all a melding stimulus that stokes their passion for excellence.

Sitting at the “Cervi”, old and froze and wondering why anyone would even compete on a day like that, a raging stage-4 storm, I vaguely remembered back in the day when I cherished the challenge to do it all in the mud, the blood, and beer.  Give it to me.  I literally thrived on that youthful challenge,  And I expected today’s young veterans to claim the same yet, through the angled sleet, in disbelief I saw some of them (ie. my son of the past, one I raised and fed on such conditions, [high-stake Jake], as well as one of my latest young heroes [Tortuga]), like horses, turn their ass to the wind and whimper, “No mas.” 

I guess there comes a time when you decide, “I don’t need this,” but that includes it all, because if you’re not tackling what’s on the plate, someone else is--VORACIOUSLY.  Facing the fiddler is the secret that makes the difference in top talent, specifically, the crème de la crème.  When the going gets tough and you don’t, others will, and I’ll bet anybody anything that at the end of the day, those boys who bow out, back away, and don’t climb the wall of discomfort, won’t be at the finals. 

On a final note, I have to hand it to the “Cervi” producers George Aroes and Reed Flake for having the best, hand-picked steers I’ve seen at a competition in a long time.  Those Corrientes were like peas in a pod.  I couldn’t stop licking my chops.

That’s all I know.

Until next time…

Rope Smart!

The Lion