Rodeo Insider: Tie-down roper, 16, making strong run for elite competition

Posted Monday, Oct. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Westyn Hughes. Write that name down. Remember it.

Hughes is a 16-year-old tie-down roper from Caldwell who defeated some of the world’s top pros such as eight-time world champion Fred Whitfield and former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Adam Gray on Sept. 27 at the Lone Star Arena in Stephenville.

The Stephenville show served as a qualifier event for the RFD-TV’s The American, which is scheduled for March 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The American will offer competitors $2 million, the largest payout ever for a one-day rodeo.

By winning the Stephenville show and the $3,600 that went with it, Hughes will advance to a semifinals competition that’s scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at the Resistol Arena in Mesquite. At that point, his goal will be to finish among the top five and advance to The American to compete against 11 other top-notch ropers.

Hughes, who competes mainly at amateur rodeos and takes on credentialed professionals at jackpot roping shows, said he thrives on roping against tougher competition.

“When I rope on a tougher level, it helps me to step my roping up, but I don’t change my roping or my game plan in any way,” Hughes said. “I’d rope against Fred Whitfield just like I’d rope against anyone else. I go at every calf 100 percent.”

Hughes began roping at age 5. His father, Scott, was a bull rider who wanted his son to rope because he believed it would be much safer.

But tie-down roping has been a natural fit. Each evening, after Hughes finishes his home school lessons, he practices for several hours. That type of work ethic enables the young cowboy to rope with great form and speed when prize money is at stake.

“When you’re making a run, everything just goes out of your mind and that’s when reaction comes in,” he said. “When you work at it in the practice pen, it just becomes automatic.”

Champions Challenge update

On the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association circuit, defending world barrel racing champion Mary Walker of Ennis won the Wrangler Champions Challenge tour stop last weekend in Kissimmee, Fla., after turning in a time of 16.87 seconds. She earned $4,000.

Other champions were saddle bronc rider Taos Muncy (85.5 points), bareback rider Seth Hardwick (84), steer wrestler Luke Branquinho (3.9 seconds), team ropers Dustin Bird and Paul Eaves (4.8 seconds), tie-down roper Brad Hartt (7.4 seconds) and bull rider Trevor Kastner (86 points).

PBR update

J.B. Mauney won the Professional Bull Riders tour stop in Fayetteville, N.C., last weekend and earned $34,840. He is ranked second in the Built Ford Tough Series world title race with 9,258.25 points. Defending world champion Silvano Alves of Decatur, who finished fourth in Fayetteville, is ranked No. 1 with 10,652.

The PBR’s last show of the 2013 regular season is scheduled for Friday through Sunday in Hollywood, Fla. The 20th annual World Finals is Oct. 23-27 in Las Vegas.

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