With 57.8 seconds on five runs—one each in heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping—two-time World Champion Team Roper Clay Smith took the Round 1 victory lap around the gargantuan Lazy E Arena on opening night at the 2021 Cinch Timed Event Championship. The guy who won back-to-back gold heading buckles in 2018 and ’19 got off to a great start, and grinned at evening’s end saying that competing in Rodeo’s Ironman is “almost a vacation” compared to getting ready for it.
“These last two weeks are the biggest of my year before the NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo),” Smith said. “I had to practice going fast for The American, letting them out there for the BFI (which is here at the Lazy E on Sunday) and every event we do here. It’s grueling, but you get rewarded for practicing hard for this event, and having a good first night like this is a start.”
With five runs down and 20 to go, Smith leads the pack—Marcus Theriot is second so far—by 5.1 seconds. Smith felt like the event with the highest pucker factor for him on opening night was the heeling.
“That steer in the heeling tried to cut up underneath my brother’s (Jake Smith is also helping defending TEC Titlist Taylor Santos here this year) head horse,” Clay said. “I didn’t really want to take that shot, but I guess I was glad to get by that steer, even with a leg.”
That plus-five in the heeling was Smith’s only penalty of the night. Smith earned $3,000 for the round win. Rounding out the top five thus far behind Smith and Theriot are Daniel Green, Roger Nonella and Lane Karney.
BY KENDRA SANTOS
Kendra Santos has written about cowboys all her life, including longtime stints with the PRCA, PBR, BFI and The Team Roping Journal. She’s also mom to two 2021 Timed Event Championship cowboys, Lane Karney and Taylor Santos.