With the regular season winding down for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association there has been a lot that has happened this past week that can make or break some contestants’ chances for their bid to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Speaking on the National Finals Rodeo, last week was a huge year-end rodeo event, The Champions Challenge sponsored by Justin Boots, that is dubbed “the little NFR” in one of my past hometowns, Kennewick, WA. Many of the top ranked cowboys and cowgirls displayed their talents for this televised event inside the Horse Heaven Arena but the tie-down roping was the one event that stole the show.
2-Time World Champ Tuf Cooper
The number one and number two ranked tie-down ropers in the PRCA world standings were up against each other at this first ever historic Champions Challenge event. Matt Shiozawa who was just $26,145 behind the number one man in the world, Tuf Cooper, was wanting to make up some ground before heading to Las Vegas in December for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Living up to the expectation of the hyped up match up Shiozawa and Cooper tied for the win with both running a 7.8 second time and thus keeping the distance the same between these two superstars of the sport.
It is hard to believe that a legend in the sport such as Tuf Cooper has had his difficulties in his career while contending in the Champion Challenge events while earning two gold belt buckles in 2011 and 2012. His first ever Champion Challenge win came just last week at this stop in Kennewick, Washington and ended a drought that he was glad to see in the rear view mirror. Cooper said, “These Champions Challenges are not something you want to miss because of the money you can win. It sure feels good to win my first time in this. It was a really good atmosphere; it was similar to the NFR.” He went on to say, “These Champions Challenges are great. They are like mini NFRs. My horse was good, and I was able to stay aggressive. It feels good to win.” Needless to say Tuf Cooper has his eyes on the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and another world championship to add to his collection.
PRCA Tie-Down Roper Matt Shiozawa
Matt Shiozawa is no stranger to the fans of the PRCA himself as having qualified for six Wrangler National Finals Rodeos (2005-07, 2009 and 2011-12). After splitting the win at the Champions Challenge event in Kennewick, WA he decided to stick around as the actual PRCA rodeo performance was just a few days later. Five days later Shiozawa made good for the performance he stayed in town for by winning it and taking home $6,155 but his luck did not end there. Knowing that the end of the regular season, September 30th, was fast approaching and being just over $26,000 out of the number one position he hit the road hard and did nothing short of winning money at every stop along his journey to the end of the season. After winning the rodeo in Kennewick he turned around and won the Golden Spike Rodeo in Utah to take home another $1,588 then finished in fifth place at a rodeo in Canada earning just over $13,500 for the very productive week.
With all the winning Shiozawa has done this past week he has managed to cut Tuf Cooper’s lead in half with just one month to go before the final standings are figured out prior to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. With such a great week in the past Shiozawa had this to say, “I hope I can keep things going throughout the fall and hopefully I will be able to compete in a couple more Champions Challenges. That would be really great.” We will see if he can keep the momentum going throughout the rest of the season and into December in Las Vegas, NV for the WNFR!
PRCA Steer Roper Jaime Long
While all the great match-ups and world title races getting closer last week there was a bad accident that rocked the rodeo world. PRCA steer roper Jaime Long from Teague, Texas was in a very serious accident while making his run during slack of the Ellensburg, Washington rodeo. August 27th was supposed to be a great day while the 46 year old cowboy celebrated his birthday on the rodeo road but that all turned tragic on one instant. Pro rodeo official ,Wade Berry, who was in the arena at the time of the accident recounted what he saw by saying this, “His horse stepped over the rope, the horse went down, Jaime got jerked down and knocked out, and his foot got stuck in the stirrup.” He then went on to say, “When his horse got up, he took off with Jaime’s foot still hung in the stirrup. They got him stopped and got Jaime out of there, but it was a scary situation, for sure.” Long was taken away from the arena via ambulance to Kittitas Valley Hospital in Ellensburg to be checked out and see how serious his injuries were. Once the assessment was complete the decision to life flight the steer wrestler to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The extent of Long’s injuries were not immediately known but PRCA steer roping event rep J.P. Wickett said, “We hope and pray Jaime’s all right, and that he has a speedy recovery. He’s a great guy. Anytime anything like this happens we’re all devastated.”
Earlier today the PRCA’s website, which you can see here, updated the condition of Jaime Long. They stated that Long was alert and talking and was in good spirits. That is great news as it was released that he should make a complete and full recovery but it will not be easy. Long said, “I have a badly dislocated left shoulder, but to tell the truth, I was very lucky and it could have been much worse.” Even though it is a short and to the point statement from the injured cowboy, his wife Rhonda, who is at his bedside at Harborview Medical Center, said, “The back of his head and neck are beaten up pretty good, and he had a lot of dirt and rocks in his eyes, but they expect him to make a full recovery.”
If his shoulder injuries are not hard enough to come back from both of his knees are injured as well and will have to be examined by an orthopedic specialist once he is released from the Seattle hospital and able to return home to Texas. All of us at the Rodeo Round Up wish Jaime a quick and speedy recovery so he can once again hit the rodeo trail to follow his dreams all the way to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Stay with the Rodeo Round Up right here, on facebook here, or on twitter at @therodeoroundup for continuing coverage of all the excitement and recover efforts and updates from Jaime’s injuries.