Clif Cooper began Saturday’s Windy Ryon Memorial Roping matinee performance as the No. 1 cowboy.
The four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Decatur won the Invitational Tie-Down Roping first round with a time of 8.8 seconds.
Cooper also finished as the No. 1 cowboy after completing two more runs at the Ryon Arena. He clinched the title with a three-run time of 27.6, two-tenths of a second faster than his elder brother, Clint, who finished runner-up.
“I drew good calves all day today,” Clif Cooper said. “My horse worked really good. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and effort, and it’s so nice to know that if you keep a positive attitude and you work hard, it pays off in the end.”
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Cooper earned $7,540 after clinching the title.
“I’ve been practicing really hard, but it hasn’t paid off for months and months,” he said. “But instead of getting down, I just started practicing harder and I feel better than I’ve ever felt. My dad always told me that hard work pays off, and today it did.”
Clif Cooper entered the final round ranked No. 1 with a two-run aggregate score of 18.2. Clint Cooper was ranked No. 2 with an 18.8.
During the final round, Clint Cooper turned a 9.0 and took the lead with a 27.8. That meant Clif Cooper had to turn in a time of 9.5 at most to win. He turned in a 9.4 and finished with the 27.6.
Though he was in a clutch situation when he made his final round run, Clif Cooper said he focused on making a clean run.
“I didn’t want to break the barrier,” he said. “I was safe on the barrier. I didn’t want to take a shot that I was going to miss. After you make the catch, it’s all muscle memory and that’s where the hard work comes in.”
Clint Cooper, a four-time NFR qualifier, had a busy day. In addition to making three runs in the invitational roping, he also made eight runs in the traditional match roping against eight-time NFR qualifier Justin Maass.
But throughout the match roping event, Clint Cooper had a difficult time. He received four no times (each no time is recorded as a time of 60 seconds during a match roping). Maass, who had a no time in the last round, finished the match with an eight-run time of 146.9 and he earned the winner-take all prize of $5,000. Clint Cooper finished with a 292.2.
Clint and Clif Cooper are the sons of eight-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion Roy Cooper. They are the brothers of two-time world champion Tuf Cooper.
During Saturday’s performance, Tuf Cooper earned $1,160 after finishing third in the second round with a time of 8.7. It was the only time he finished in the money.
All three Cooper brothers live in Decatur. They grew up attending the Ryon Roping and watching their legendary father compete.
“This is like a hometown roping for me and my family,” Clint Cooper said. “My dad match-roped in the 1970s and 1980s. My brothers have matched-roped here. I live only 20 miles from here and so it’s like a hometown roping. All my friends and family are here.”