December 5-14, 2024

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tatum ties down a world title

Dec 10, 2023

tatum ties down a world title

LAS VEGAS – Pecos Tatum had an impressive start to his Sunday morning at the Junior World Finals.

The 18-year-old was the final competitor in the shootout round of the 19-and-under tie-down roping, so he knew exactly what he needed to do to win a world title. Then the Decatur, Texas, cowboy went out and did it.

Rodney Jackson of Angleton, Texas, had posted a time of 8.97 seconds the run before Tatum backed into the box.

Pecos Tatum of Decatur, Texas, stands with Brilynn Bentley of Las Vegas Events after Tatum won the 19-and-under tie-down roping world title at the Junior World Finals on Sunday.

“I just knew to try to do my job the best I could,” Tatum said. “Just score, get (the calf) around the neck, turn him around and just make the best run I could with no mistakes and let the chips fall where they fall.

“I got out good and got him roped good; he turned around just like I like ‘em too. He just set up good so I just tried to make the best run I could with no mistakes and let it go from there.”

After Tatum caught the calf he was off his horse in a flash and was even quicker on the ground. The other tie-down ropers watching inside the Wrangler Rodeo Arena nodded their heads in admiration and offered a round of applause before the time was even announced.

When it was, Tatum was a world champion. His time of 7.81 seconds was the second-fastest of the competition.

“I had run that calf in the second round and it was a really good calf,” Tatum admitted. “So I felt pretty good about that last run.”

Kylan Wilhite of Clovis, New Mexico, won the first go-round with a 7.93 and started the shootout with a 9.35 to set the standard. Second go winner Jake Shelton of Krum, Texas, would have had an 8.63 but his calf kicked out of its tie. Cade Wallis of Big Spring, Texas, followed with another no-time and Gator Goodrich of Stanfield, Oregon, had trouble on the ground and finished with a 10.56.

That set the stage for the Texas showdown between Jackson and Tatum, the last two standing in the field of 36 of the best young tie-down ropers in the country.

“There were a bunch of tough ropers here,” Tatum noted. “You just feed off each other because the better they rope the better you rope. It’s really fun to rope against good guys, especially when you have good calves.”

With a world title on his ever-growing resume, Tatum, who has competed on a national stage for the better part of a decade, is ready to compete at the next level on a full-time basis. He’ll be a rookie on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit in the 2024 season after filling his permit at the Cook Rodeo Days in Lubbock, Texas, in early November.

Rodney Jackson of Angleton, Texas, gets ready to compete in the 19-and-under tie-down roping competition on Sunday at the Junior World Finals.

“That was my first pro rodeo and I won $5,400 there,” said Tatum, who collected a check for $12,500 to go along with a saddle, buckle and other prizes Sunday. “I got my (PRCA) card the next week and I’ve been to two rodeos since. And I just got entered in Denver so I’ll be heading out there with (traveling partner) Bryce Derrer.”

Next stop: Thomas & Mack

Tatum knows it won’t be easy, but he hopes to return to Vegas in the not-too-distant future to compete in the National Finals Rodeo.

Five-time NFR qualifier Ty Harris, who was in attendance at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Sunday morning to keep on his future competition, believes Tatum and the rest of the Junior World Finals participants are on the fast track to the NFR.

Cisco College’s Ty Harris competes in tie-down roping at the 2018 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Harris won the CNFR title that year and has qualified for the past five National Finals Rodeos. (Josh Galemore photo, Casper Star-Tribune)

“The biggest thing is they’re competing at a high level from a young age,” said Harris, who won the College National Finals Rodeo tie-down championship in 2018 and began his NFR run the following year. “Me and the guys I competed against growing up didn’t get to go to so many big-money rodeos with so many big-pressure situations with short rounds until we got to the high school finals and the CNFR.

“They’re looking to be stone-cold killers from a very young age,” he added. “Obviously the guys that have made it to the Thomas & Mack have that in them, but I think you’re going to see a higher percentage of great athletes and great competitors coming through the ranks just because they get to experience this at such a young age and the competition that they go up against.”

Even though Harris knows only 15 tie-down ropers qualify for the NFR each year, he welcomes the challenge presented by the next generation.

“I love it because I don’t think you can ever get complacent,” he said. “These kids are the future of the sport and if I can’t beat them then I’m not the best in the world.

“I think everything about rodeo is getting better and bigger. I’m just excited for the future. I love rodeo as a whole, tie-down roping specifically, but I love rodeos and I’m glad to be a part of it.”