Regardless of what’s at stake, Kory Koontz ropes to win.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re roping for $1 million or a coke, you have to execute, no matter how much it’s worth,” said Koontz, an 18-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Sudan who won the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo team roping/heeling title Feb. 4.
Koontz and his partner, Erich Rogers, entered the 12-man championship round leading the title race. After completing two runs in the qualifying rounds, they led defending world all-around champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, and his partner, Patrick Smith of Midland, 10.8 to 11.4 seconds.
During a sold-out finals performance at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Brazile and Smith turned in a 5.5 effort and took the lead with a three-run time of 16.9. But Rogers and Koontz countered with a speedy 5.7 and clinched the title with a 16.5.
“A lot of guys get nervous when they’re in a situation like that but you have to not be afraid to get out there and let yourself go,” said Koontz, 40, who has almost $1.7 million in PRCA earnings. “You have to not be afraid to win by executing.”
Rogers and Koontz each earned $5,339. Koontz was relieved because it was the first time he and Rogers, who is from Round Rock, Ariz., had finished in the money this season. They had fallen short at sizable winter rodeos in Odessa, Denver and Rapid City, S.D.
But when they competed in preliminary rounds on Feb. 2, they made two smooth, fast runs and moved to the top of the leaderboard.
“When we made a clean run, I was really tickled,” Koontz said of their first-round time of 5.7. After that, they turned in a second-round time of 5.1, which advanced them to the final round.
Koontz is optimistic about the season.
“It feels good to be on the board and to know that we’re now on our way,” he said.
It was also the first time Koontz has won in Fort Worth. During the past two decades, he’s clinched titles in many of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s big rodeos in cities such as Houston, Pendleton, Ore., Reno, Nev., and San Angelo.
But a win at Fort Worth had eluded him.
“It’s one of the oldest rodeos in the heart of Texas,” Koontz said. “To be able to win in cowboy country is one great feeling.”
■ CBR update: Clint Craig of Mena, Ark., finished first at the Championship Bull Riding tour stop on the weekend of Feb. 3-5 in Lubbock. Craig, a two-time qualifier to the NFR, turned in the 89 during the final round aboard a bull named Palace Station John Doe, which is owned the Hurst Rodeo Co. Craig clinched the title with a two-ride aggregate score of 176. Lubbock cowboy Chandler Bownds finished fourth with a one-ride marking of 91 aboard a bull named Pale Face Jose.
■ Brazile watch: In addition to finishing second in team roping at the Fort Worth rodeo, Trevor Brazile, an Amarillo native, won the tie-down roping title at the Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo in Rapid City, S.D. As he attempts to win a record 10th world all-around title, Brazile has the lead over No. 2-ranked Landon McClaugherty, $21,287 to $10,819.
■ San Antonio rodeo: The San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo, which began last weekend, will run through Feb. 25. The Alamo City’s annual rodeo has been named the PRCA’s Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year the past seven years. For more information, visit .
Brett Hoffman has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth
Star-Telegram the past 25 years. Email him at .