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December 10, 2013

Local rodeo star rising up money charts

LAS VEGAS — Tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett’s philosophy at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is quite simple: He’s on a money-making mission.

“I came here with nothing to lose,” said Jarrett, an eight-time NFR qualifier from Comanche. “It’s just time to get at it and try to get what money you can and go home.”

The Georgia-raised cowboy came to ProRodeo’s championship event No. 13 in the world standings. Through four go-rounds inside the Thomas & Mack Center, Jarrett has placed three times and earned $37,410. That’s a pretty powerful indication of his work in the Nevada desert, planted with an exclamation mark Sunday night when he posted a 6.9-second run to share the go-round title with six-time world champion Cody Ohl. Each cowboy pocketed $16,677. He has pushed his earnings past the $100,000 mark and has moved to seventh in the world standing.

“I broke the barrier in the second round; I’ll try not to run into that problem again,” he said, explaining that he suffered a 10-second penalty for not allowing his calf the appropriate head start on the second night of the 10-round competition. “I had a good calf (Sunday), got him turned around, kept him on his feet and put a wrap and a hooey on him.”

In trying to be as fast as they can, tie down ropers want things a certain way. Getting to the animal while it’s facing them and on its feet can help shave off precious tenths of a second, and tying the legs together with one and a half wraps instead of two and a half could be the difference between first and second place.

Having the right calf can make a difference, too. There are three sets of calves available to rope, and they are put together based on how similar they are. Each pen is separated by a degree of difficulty, and the fourth-round calves were the perfect set for fast times.

“All three pens are pretty even,” Jarrett said, noting that the group from Sunday night “might be some of the better ones that we’ve roped.

“Sterling Smith won fourth on that calf the first night (in 7.8 seconds). I went and watched (video of) him before tonight and refreshed my memory of him. I knew exactly what I had.”

He also knew he had a little more assistance in the form of Hippie, a horse owned by Justin Brinkerhoff of Utah. Like Jarrett, Hippie is an NFR veteran.

“He’s no stranger to the Thomas & Mack,” Jarrett said, pointing, though, that bad weather cancelled his trip to Utah prior to Thanksgiving, where he was going to ride the horse and gain a little more familiarity with it before arriving in Vegas. “I wasn’t sure the first couple of rounds. (Saturday) night felt good, and (Sunday) felt better.”

Of course, with more than $37,000 padding his pocket, everything feels a little better.

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