Herren trying to take title from cowboy ‘Superman’

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Herren trying to take title from cowboy ‘Superman’

Pawhuska’s Chet Herren enters this weekend’s National Finals Steer Roping as the second-place contestant for a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Championship.

Herren will start the competition just less than $1,000 behind defending champion Trevor Brazile, who has nearly $70,000 in PRCA-sanctioned steer roping earnings thus far in 2014. The third-winningest roper in the 15-man finals trails the leaders by $15,000.

Another steer roping finalist with local ties is Brady Garten, a 2001 Pawhuska High School graduate who now resides in Claremore. Garten garnered more than $32,500 in earnings for the year, making him the No. 11 qualifier — a spot ahead of a three-time champion, Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan.

Patterson, a title winner in 2009, 2010 and 2012, is the lone Kansan in the finals’ field. That is significant because the 2014 NFSR is moving to a new home site in the Sunflower State. After being held the past five years at Guthrie’s Lazy E Arena, the upcoming event is to be in the Kansas Star Arena, which opened a year ago at the casino complex in Mulvane, Kan. — about 10 miles south of Wichita.

The finals rounds are set Friday and Saturday, with performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at kansasstararena.com and at ticketmaster.com.

Herren, who turns 35 on Thursday, is having a successful 14th season as a professional roper. He’s been a consist money-winner throughout his PRCA career and led the steer roping world standings for much of this year. It will be Herren’s ninth trip to the finals, plus his seventh in a row. He placed fifth at last year’s NSFR and seventh in the world standings.

A championship would put Herren on a revered roster of Pawhuska’s world champion ropers that includes the late Jim Snively, winner of the 1956 PRCA Steer Roping crown and early-day champions Barton Carter and Ben Johnson.

Of the ropers Herren will have to beat to claim a world title, none will be tougher than Brazile, a 37-year-old Texan who just happens to be the reigning, hands-down, undisputed, “non-pareil” World’s Greatest Rodeo Cowboy. Brazile took the steer-roping championships in 2006, 2007, 2011 and last year. His all-time record 19 gold buckles include the last eight All-Around titles, plus three championships for tie-down roping and on in team roping.

This will be the second trip to the NSFR for Garten, whose father — Shorty Garten of Pawhuska — also has roped in two finals events.

The 2014 NFSR finalists include numerous past winners of the local Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping, including the Jess Tierney of Hermosa, S.D., who is currently third in the PRCA standings with annual earnings of $53,561. Fourth going into the finals is Cody Lee of Gatesville, Texas, the Ben Johnson champ in 2012 and ‘13. This year’s champion, Vin Fisher Jr. of Andrews, Texas, is fifth and the 2011 winner, Mike Chase of McAlester, will start from the No. 8 spot.

Others area qualifiers are J.P. Wickett from Sallisaw, the No. 10 qualifier, and Brady Poppino of Big Cabin at No. 14. The remaining contestants include: No. 6 Chance Kelton of Mayer, Ariz., and Texans Jason Evans from Huntsville (No. 7), No. 9 Tony Reina of Wharton and No. 13 Scott Snedecor of Fredericksburg, a two-time world champion (2005-08). Rounding out the 15 finalists is Troy Tillard of Douglas, Wyo.

Fifteen-time NFSR qualifier Rod Hartness of Pawhuska failed to make the field for the second straight year following a 26th-place finish in this season’s standings. Last year, Hartness finished 16th and missed qualifying by only a few hundred dollars.

Also, Ralph Williams of Skiatook placed 21st overall, Tom Smith of Barnsdall came in 36th and Pawhuska’s Cody Garnett was No. 48.