71-year-old roper wins annual Red Rock Classic

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

CHURCH ROCK, N.M., June 6, 2013

Text size: A A A

(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Max Bighorse of Window Rock starts to throw his loop as header Homer Chee pulls the steer on Sunday at Red Rock Park in Church Rock, N.M. Bighorse and Chee got a no time for their efforts.

SECOND FROM TOP: Tenai Lansing of Cortez, Colo., makes her dally and starts to turn her horse while Truman House waits for the steer to turn.

B y most standards, Leroy Williams Sr. is no spring chicken.

In fact, most of his peers do other things to stay active but for Williams he spends most of his time inside a rodeo arena do what he loves – roping.

He does that even though he's 71 years old.

On Sunday afternoon, Williams did not let his age define him as he finished in first place with partner Ed Kelley during the annual Red Rock Classic team-roping event. Both ropers got qualified for the national finals, which will be held from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3 in Oklahoma City.

"My body is slowing down but it's all up here," Williams said while pointing to his noggin when told that he handled his business very well.

And despite having slower reflexes than most of the other contenders, Williams managed to do his part and get both hinds legs roped in the short round as the pair turned in a time of 7.68 seconds, which gave them an aggregate of 32.25 in the average race.

"I'm roping better because I have a good horse," Williams said. "I just got lucky and I feel so blessed."

Red Rock Classic producer Walt Eddy said it was nice to see someone like Williams come out on top, while adding that the handicap system in place makes team roping a sport for all ages.

"You don't have to be a 25-year-old athlete stud to compete in like most of the other rodeos," Eddy said. "The cap system makes it capable for someone like Leroy to win it."

Williams said he didn't experience any of that because of his age.

"I'm 71 so it shouldn't bother me," he said with a chuckle.

"There was pressure there but we had to keep in mind that it was another run," his partner Kelley added. "We practice everyday so it didn't bother us."

Both agreed that practice makes perfect as they also got qualified for the Priefert World Series Team Roping Championship in Show Low, Ariz., two weeks ago.

That event will take place during the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., in December. The payout in last December's event exceeded $6 million.

"We had a good two weeks," Williams said. "I want to thank all my partners and for the people that support me."

The team of Clayton Lucero and Truman Begay finished behind Kelley and Williams with an aggregate of 34.98 as they moved five spots by recording a 6.26 run in the short round.

Begay said he legged up their first steer so they had some ground to make up in the next three rounds.

"Our next two steers, we ran them under a 10 so we were the seventh high call back," Begay said. In the short round "we got a good steer and my header slicked him up in the corner and I just took my best shot."

Chinle ropers Julius Singer and Ernest Gorman also made some significant ground as they move up 12 spots to win the No. 8 roping on Sunday. The pair stretched their steer in 7.89 seconds in the short round and finished with an aggregate of 28.42.

"I thought we still had a chance to win it," Singer said. "We just had to get our steer caught everybody else in front of us missed."

His 63-year-old partner was still in shock one hour after the roping but credited his horse for giving them that chance.

"Wow, it's hard to explain but I really appreciate this," Gorman said. "We had a little pressure going in but I'm glad we didn't wilted."

Back to top ^