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Pearson Wins Championship at Nothin’ But Try Jackpot
Coleman, Oklahoma (May 26, 2020) — Tyler Pearson, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 2017 world champion steer wrestler, added a new title to his resume over the Memorial Day weekend at the Nothin’ But Try (NBT) Jackpot.
Pearson was one of 77 entries in the steer wrestling held after a break-away roping that attracted nearly 40. That event’s winner was a high school freshman, Avery Landry from Arnaudville, Louisiana. While these two were the champions of their respective events, the real winner was the Nothin’ But Try Scholarships that the event raises money for. This year over $6,000 was donated to the scholarship fund.
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo steer wrestling qualifier Sean Mulligan started the jackpot in 2014 in his hometown of Coleman, Oklahoma. It was organized to raise money for the scholarship given in fellow competitor, Levi Wisness’s honor.
A scholarship in his name had been started in 2009. Wisness was the 2003 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) steer wrestling champion. He was also a student director for the Central Rocky Mountain Region and got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, Mulligan’s alma mater. Wisness had a brain tumor that was successfully treated. He was making his competition comeback when he passed unexpectedly in 2008.
Two more scholarships were added in 2009, one honoring Lee Akin who suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now living his best life in Idaho, and another one in honor of Betty Gayle Cooper Ratliff. This year, the jackpot started off with the Betty Gayle Open Roping giving breakaway ropers an opportunity to participate.
Cooper Ratliff was the coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University when cancer took her life in 1999. Her involvement with college rodeo started as a competitor at Eastern New Mexico University where she won two national titles. After college she joined the ranks of other professional cowgirls and earned nine world titles.
In 1976, she moved to Durant, Oklahoma, completed her master’s degree and started coaching. During her tenure, nine National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association team titles and 16 individual championships were won. Her record as a winning college rodeo coach is unsurpassed.
Christi Braudrick attended college in Durant to be coached by Cooper Ratiliff and is Southeastern’s current coach. She organized the breakaway roping.
“This really means a lot to me,” Braudrick said. “I’ve seen how these scholarships have impacted people and to be able to have a roping that honors Betty Gayle and raises money for the scholarships is a win-win situation.”
As the breakaway champion, Landry got the first ever Betty Gayle Open Roping champion buckle. Braudrick invited Cooper Ratliff, her college coach’s son, to present the awards. Landry had a total time of 8.2 on three runs, won the second round with a blazing 1.8-second time and earned $1,755 for her efforts. She also got a hand-painted feather for having the fastest time of the day.
Pearson has competed at the Jackpot several times, but this is his first time to collect the championship buckle that carries Levi Wisness’s brand. His total time of 13.2 seconds earned him $3,030. Second place went to Jacob Edler with a 13.5. Also in the mix were the 2001 steer wrestling world champion Rope Myers and 2018 NFR qualifier Blake Mindemann. Each go-round winner received a trophy knife and the fastest time received a hand-painted feather.
The second annual cornhole tournament gave local residents a chance to participate in the event and while the action got very competitive, it was a chance for everyone to have some fun.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for participating,” Mulligan said. “The U-Cross arena has been so generous for us and we’ve gotten a lot of support since we started this six years ago. Levi would have been the first guy here and the last to leave, so to have an event that people come have fun at and honors his spirit is awesome.”