Going for First or Just Catch?
Written by: Speed Williams< Back to Articles
We made our first trip to the Junior High School National Finals in Huron, SD, last month where Hali had qualified in the Breakaway.
She had roped well at regional finals and was 5.1 or 5.2 on two and won second. Then at Texas Junior High Finals she roped a 2.4, 2.7, a 3.2 and won second. At nationals last month she was 2.7, 2.8 and a short 3 and ended up winning third. The fact is you’re not always going to win first.
The conversation I had with her was that by roping conservatively her loops were high percentage shots. Everywhere we went there were girls who went faster. It came down to the short go at nationals and Hali was third high call. Josie Conner had roped two good calves and won the first round and second in the second round. She had a 6/10-second lead on us going into the short round.
We had been working on roping faster, but the catch percentage is not high. However, at the one-head jackpot Hali did rope fast and was 2.1. It wasn’t the prettiest loop. It hit him in the head and wrapped around and caught him.
At the finals you are able to watch the stock on film to see what they do. I always did this when I was rodeoing because I felt it was just part of being prepared by knowing what to expect from your steer or calf. We watched Hali’s short go calf three times run about 15 feet then hard right. We have a similar calf at home and he’s not a high percentage catch when trying to go fast. She asked what I thought she should do in the short round. I told her she could be really fast if she wanted to try and get a good start, swing twice, and fire. But in doing so there’s a 50/50 chance of catching him. If she did that and missed I didn’t want her to be devastated by trying to win first.
I said, “When you back in the box, do whatever you have to do to win first and let the other girls have to beat you. If the girls in front of you go fast, then you need to go fast.”
Personally, when coming back in the top three, my goal has always been to do whatever I needed to compete. When Hali backed in the box she needed to be a middle 4 to lead the roping and her catch ratio is pretty high if that’s all we need to do. She went and caught him and then the other two girls went and did their job and caught their calves.
She wanted to win first but the thought of driving home after missing would have been too hard. If she had taken a low percentage throw and missed and then the high calls had broken the barrier or missed, she would have been devastated. That’s the price you pay when you gamble. You have to live with when you don’t win. Had we tried to go fast, our success rate would have been low because our calf did not do what we expected. He went 50 feet before going right. So it ended up being a smart thing by going and catching.
Ultimately my advice to my daughter is if she rolled the dice and it didn’t work, I wanted her to hold her head up and keep a smile on her face because she tried to win first and she knew the odds going in. Sometimes it’s not about winning first. There were over 100 contestants and the first time she made nationals.
As parents you want your child to win, but you have to understand the risk when they try to go fast and recognize the percentages of what they’re capable of doing and not be upset when they miss. To me, understanding your odds is part of rodeo. Hopefully next year our “going fast” catch percentage will be much higher and she’ll feel more comfortable rolling the dice. If your child doesn’t have a high catching percentage, it’s not reasonable to be upset if they miss while trying to go fast.