story by Siri Stevens Tony Keeton started his company, Rockin’ K Rodeo in 2017. It’s not his only full time job. Tony has worked for […]
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Meet the Member Cory Clark
story by Lily Weinacht
Cory Clark lives for roping. Likewise, roping is his living. The 20 year old from Stephenville, Texas, wasn’t born into rodeo, but he made a name for himself in the sport as fast as he could. He competed in both the IFYR and NHSFR four times during high school, while competing in the IFR for the first time this January was a highlight in his career.
Originally from South Carolina, Cory started roping when he was 11 and competed in his first rodeo in team roping two years later, introduced to it by his sister, Ashley, who ran barrels in high school. The first of their family to rodeo, Ashley quit competing after high school, but Cory carried on with his newfound love. Little did he know, roping the dummy as a little kid with the older boys, that he would someday be pro rodeoing with one of them. “Ethan Cory high school rodeoed with my sister, and even though his family moved to Texas, he would come to South Carolina sometimes,” Cory says. “When I moved to Texas, we started hog hunting together and roping at jackpots, and both he and our other travel partner, Adam Plyler, love the road and rodeoing, so here we are!”
Originally a heeler, Cory switched to heading at Kaleb Drigger’s observation that Cory headed better than he heeled. “I’ve always looked up to Kaleb and Ethan,” says Cory. “They’re some of the best in the world. And I look up to my mamma, Michelle Clark. She’s always behind me all the time. In high school she never missed a rodeo or a roping, and she recently drove eight hours just to watch me compete in Eastern Regionals. My dad, Randy Clark, has to work, but he loves to come watch me whenever he can.”
Cory has lived with Kaleb since moving to Stephenville to rodeo for Ranger College and get his business degree. “There’s someone roping on every corner, and Kaleb keeps steers, so it’s easy to practice,” Cory explains. He ropes off a 15-year-old buckskin they call Bucky, which he bought from Kaleb several years ago. “I have another horse I normally rodeo on that’s hurt right now, but one of the things I like about the IPRA is that you don’t have to have two or three horses to rodeo,” says Cory. He’s been a member of the association for three years. “My first year, I just rodeoed in South Carolina, but last year I went north to some of the bigger rodeos, and roping for Ben Gambrell and Jason Tucker got me the experience I needed.”
That experience helped him qualify for IFR 45 in January. “It was pretty cool, and even though I didn’t do very good, it was cool to be there!” says Cory, who has also visited Oklahoma City on five other occasions to compete in the USTRC finals. He and Clay Sieber won the 2014 USTRC Cinch National Finals #15 Shoot-Out, while the first year he started heading, Cory placed sixth in the average at a George Strait team roping in San Antonio, Texas, which put his name on a check for $20,000.
One of Cory’s goals is to take that team roping success to the CNFR next year. “I’ve barely missed qualifying for the CNFR two years in a row, and it aggravates me,” he says. “But I’ll make it next year!” He adds, “I won first in Attica, N.Y., last year, and I’d like to do that again. And I at least want to be in the top five and get to the IFR for a chance to win the World.”