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Teaching old bulls new tricks

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018
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At age 62, two-time world team roping champion Walt Woodard isn’t slowing down.

The Stephenville cowboy can still hold his own against other high-profile cowboys who are a lot younger on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit.

Knowing he no longer has the speed he had when he was much younger, Woodard has devised a strategic method of becoming way more competitive during his senior years. He is using a lighter rope that he can swing faster.

“As I’ve gotten older, my swing has slowed down, so I’ve lightened up my rope a little bit and tried to work on my swing speed and it’s helping,” Woodard said. “I need to be able to swing the rope faster as I’m going down the arena because I’m 62 and these other guys are 22. They are young and fast.”

But when the team roping title was at stake during the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo’s final round on Saturday night, Woodard, a heeler, swung his rope plenty fast enough to clinch the title with the superb help from his partner, two-time world heading champion Matt Sherwood.

During the final round, Woodard and Sherwood, 48, turned in a time of 5.5 seconds to clinch the title with a three-run time of 15.6 seconds. The pair took home the crown before a sold-out crowd of more than 5,700 spectators at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.

Ten-time National Finals qualifier Luke Brown, 43, and Jake Long, 33, a seven-time NFR qualifier, finished second in the title race with a 16.0 after the duo turned in a finals time of 5.8.

Amberleigh Moore, a two-time NFR qualifier, clinched the barrel racing title. In steer wrestling, defending world champion Tyler Pearson won the title.

In tie-down roping, 2013 world champion Shane Hanchey lassoed the title and pocketed $18,668. Hanchey finished as the Fort Worth rodeo’s highest money winner.

Each Stock Show Rodeo single event champion received a $5,000 bonus from the organizing committee. While the $5,000 will not count in the PRCA world standings, it was a much appreciated bonus for competitors who earn their livelihood at rodeos and have to cover road costs.

Hanchey clinched his second tie-down roping title at the Fort Worth Rodeo. He also claimed the title in 2010.

“Winning at Fort Worth for a second time was really special,” Hanchey said. “Then getting that $5,000 bonus was an awesome surprise.”

Clif Cooper, a former National Finals qualifier from Decatur, finished second in the tie-down roping title race. He’s the son of eight-time world champion Roy Cooper of Decatur.

Other Fort Worth rodeo champions were bareback rider J.R. Vezain, a five-time National Finals qualifier, and bull rider Trevor Kastner who has competed in three NFRs.

Woodard has won world titles 26 years apart on the PRCA circuit. He lassoed his first gold buckle in 1981 and his second in 2007.

Woodard said he’s grateful to be able to hold his own against ropers who are younger and can make faster moves.

“It’s an absolute honor to be able to rope against these guys,” Woodard said. “They are so competitive. I’m blessed to still be in the game.”

Woodard said he will attempt to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this season. In order to qualify for the Las Vegas championships, he must finish in the top 15. Last year, he finished 21st.

Woodard’s most recent NFR berth – his 20th – was in 2011.

“My goal is to qualify for the National Finals again, and I want to rope for another world championship,” Woodard said. “Nobody my age has done it in the team roping. I came out of retirement when I was 50 to see if I could do it and I won it when I was 52. Now, I want to see if I can do it while in my 60s.”

PBR UPDATE

On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, Cody Nance of Paris, Tenn., clinched the title at last weekend’s tour stop in Anaheim after earning 513.33 points throughout the Built Ford Tough Series tour stop. Nance earned $34,166.

Nance secured the title after turning in a score of 88.75 aboard the 2017 PBR World Champion Bull Sweet Pro’s Bruiser (owned by D&H Cattle Co./Buck Cattle Co.).

Claudio Montanha Jr. finished second after earning 353.33 points. Dener Barbosa finished third with 245.

In the world title race, Barbosa, who is from the Decatur area, is ranked No. 1 with 1,115 points. Montanha is second with 986.

This weekend, the Ford Series tour stops in Kansas City, Mo. The Ford Series tour also stops in Arlington on Feb. 24 at AT&T Stadium. On Feb. 25, the PBR’s top riders from last year, will compete in the RFD-TVs The American at AT&T Stadium. The 2018 PBR World Finals is Nov. 7-11 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

DEATH OF A LEGEND

Convenience store owner Lonnie Allsup, 84, who was a cutting horse enthusiast, died on Jan. 28, at his home in Clovis, N.M. His memorial service was Jan. 31, at the Faith Christian Family Church in Clovis. In 1996, Allsup and his standout horse, Little Badger Dulce, clinched the National Cutting Horse Association non-pro world title. Allsup and his wife, Barbara, produced an NCHA show at their cutting horse facility near Farwell in the 1990s that drew the sport’s elite. Allsup was inducted in the NCHA Hall of Fame in 2001.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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