When the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s 2013 regular season concluded in late September, Cory Solomon finished 16th in the tie-down roping world standings, one slot away from earned a coveted berth the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.
Solomon had qualified for the Las Vegas championships in 2011 and 2012. But in 2013, he had to work around an injured roping horse and he had other setbacks.
But this year, Solomon, 24, who is from Prairie View, has three dependable roping horses and he’s off to a fast start in his attempt to earn an 2014 NFR back number.
“Finishing 16th last year definitely lit a fire in me,” Solomon said. “Finishing 16th in the world can make you or break you. It can make you not want to do it again, or it can make you that much better.”
At the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo, Solomon earned $3,920 after tying for second in the first round with a time of 8.4 seconds. And when he competed during the Friday matinee performance at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Solomon turned in a solid time of 10.7 seconds.
Solomon is ranked fourth in the tie-down roping title race with a two-run time of 19.1. Adam Gray, a former NFR qualifier who lives in Seymour, took the lead in the tie-down roping title race after turning in a 9.0 on Friday afternoon.
Gray and Solomon tied for second in Round 1 with 8.4s. Then, Gray followed up with a speedy 9.0 on Round 2, pushing his two-run aggregate time to 17.4 seconds. He is 1.3 seconds ahead of No. 2-ranked Mike Johnson.
Johnson, Gray and Solomon are expected to advance to the Feb. 8 Stock Show Rodeo Finals, which will feature the top 12, based on two-run aggregate scores from Round 1 and Round 2.
Solomon will not earn a paycheck in Round 2. But completing his run in 10.7 on Friday was a big challenge, and he said he was happy to turn in a respectable time.
As his roping horse burst from the box, Solomon’s right foot slipped out of the stirrup, which made it both difficult to both throw his loop and to dismount.
As his horse bolted into the arena and tracked the calf, Solomon had difficulty keeping his balance in the saddle.
“I didn’t have very good balance, so I just focused on making sure I caught the calf,” Solomon said.
Like the majority of ropers, Solomon dismounts from the right side. But that was difficult because his right foot was out of the stirrup.
“I had to jump off and go and I lost momentum,” Solomon said. “I didn’t get a very good go to the calf, which caused me to misflank him. I just made sure I got him solidly tied down. At that point, I was just putting myself in position to turn in a time fast enough to come back here and compete in the finals, and when that time comes, we’ll see what happens.”