The 2022 Cinch Timed Event Championship lived up to its wild, wonderful Ironman of ProRodeo self, and did not disappoint in the dramatic and sentimental storyline departments. To take it from the top, Navajo Nation cowboy sensation Erich Rogers earned his first Timed Event title in nine tries. Three-time CTEC Champ Daniel Green decided during his 25th trip to the Timed Event that it would be his last, and left it all in that Lazy E Arena before thanking the fans to one sweet final standing ovation. Missouri cowboy Clay Clayman ushered in a new era in the Jr Ironman by cashing the first-ever $20,000 champion’s check, thanks to a doubling down of the stakes by the World Champions Rodeo Alliance.
Not Just a Team Roper
It was a long and winding nine-year road that led World Champion Team Roper Erich Rogers to the winner’s circle at the 2022 Cinch Timed Event Championship. He’d been close; his best before now being a third-place finish in 2019. But he’d also blown out his right knee in the bulldogging at the 2018 CTEC, a battleground blow that required major reconstructive surgery and rigorous rehab to recover from.
“After all I’ve been through to be here makes this win even sweeter,” said Rogers, who’s 35 now and lives in Round Rock, Arizona. “The Timed Event is one of the greatest events ever. You don’t get to compete against the best 20 all-around cowboys in the world in five different events anywhere else in the world.”
Remember, 2017 World Champion Header Rogers was the reigning champ of the world when those Timed Event injuries took him out of the rodeo draw to fix his ACL, MCL and meniscus. But the 12-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier would not back down from the toughest, truest test that is the Cinch Timed Event Championship.
“The Timed Event is one of the premier events a guy can go to to show off your talent and versatility,” said Rogers, who won this year’s CTEC with 311.3 seconds on 25 head; Clayton Hass, Russell Cardoza and 2020 Timed Event titlist Taylor Santos rounded out the top four Ironmen in 2022. “You’re taking on not only the toughest set of all-around cowboy competitors in the world, but the cattle they bring in for this event also. They’re big and strong and tough, too.”
Erich enlisted helpers and horses to tackle the 2022 CTEC. In the heading, he had his rodeo heeler, Paden Bray, on the back side. In the heeling, he brought in NFR header Logan Olson to spin his steers. Myles Neighbors hazed for him in the steer wrestling.
Rogers rode his own gray head horse, Elsa, in the heading, and Bray’s dun heel horse, Hugh. Rogers roped calves on Kenny Reeves’ little sorrel horse Nubs, and steer roped on Cody Lee’s buckskin that’s named after his wife, Lee Lee. Rogers (and Cardoza) bulldogged on Clay Clayman’s gray horse, Gus.
Rogers was running a flawless race—with no barriers, legs or any other major hiccups—until his very last run of the entire event in the steer roping. Every heart in the building stopped and skipped more than a few beats when Erich’s first loop failed to connect.
“I split the horns,” he said. “By then, it was about getting a time. So when I missed, I was kind of in a panic and got myself into a speed jam. I roped that steer with my second loop, but when I laid the trip, he set up over on the wall. My rope got caught up between the saddle and the saddle pad, and I fell off backwards. I was in a bit of a storm, and my hamstrings were cramping up.
“I knew when I threw my hands in the air that I’d won it. That was one of the greatest feelings in the world after nine years of trying. But I ended the run on my butt and out of breath. There’s nothing easy about winning the Timed Event.”
At Timed Event’s end, Rogers and Bray drove eight straight hours to Houston to rope in their Super Series there, which started on Sunday after Saturday night’s grand finale at the Lazy E. Who did Rogers run into in the cowboy parking lot right off the bat at RodeoHouston but seven-time CTEC titlist and Timed Event King Trevor Brazile himself.
“Trevor told me, ‘Good job and congratulations,’” Rogers said. “Then I showed him the video of my last run, and he said, ‘Man, you really kept the crowd in suspense, didn’t you?’”
The sportsmedicine team kept Rogers’ right ankle taped, and ran the stim machine on his right arm and shoulder before the fifth and final Timed Event performance.
“My whole right side stayed sore after I hoolihaned that (bulldogging) steer in the third round,” Rogers said. “My right shoulder and my right forearm were sore. I had shin splints. I hurt my right ankle about a year ago stepping off of the trailer ramp to get more hay to load our hay bags. I rolled my ankle, and it tends to stay a little sore. But the Timed Event’ll take it out of you even if you’re sound. The Timed Event tests your strengths and your weaknesses.”
The Timed Event tests your heart, too. Rogers wears a gold buckle. He and Bray won the 2020 NFR average, and the team roping at The American in 2021. How does this Timed Event title stack up in such a successful and storied career?
“Winning the Timed Event is right there at the top,” he said. “The Timed Event is one of the premier events in the world. This is right up there with winning a gold buckle and an American win. The Timed Event is just the sweetest event ever.”
The CTEC champ cashes a $100,000 check. In Rogers’ case, it was a grand total of $104,000, including a pair of second-place checks behind Cody Doescher in Round 2 and Taylor Santos in Round 4, respectively.
“The money’s great when you win the Timed Event, but this buckle says you’re the Ironman who competed in five events, outlasted everybody and succeeded,” Erich said. “It means something to me to prove that I can hang with the big boys. Heading’s what pays the bills and I’m a header by trade. But I’m a heeler at heart. And I don’t bulldog very often—only at the Timed Event, or at the Indian rodeos sometimes, if there’s an all-around trailer or added all-around money.”
Rogers, Aaron Tsinigine and Derrick Begay have been magnificent role models for the young cowboys and cowgirls of the Navajo Nation. Rogers’ Timed Event win will inspire kids to dream even bigger now, which also makes him proud.
“The mental part of the Timed Event marathon was the game changer for me,” Rogers said. “I mentally focused on one event and one run at a time, then went on to the next one. I didn’t get caught up in the whole mix or overthink things this time, and that really helped. One run at a time really is the way to go, and this is a win I will never forget.”
This is Where the Cowboy Rides Away
Daniel Green decided during the course of the 2022 Timed Event Championship that he was completing the CTEC course for the last time. The 10-time National Finals Rodeo team roper and three-time Timed Event Champ called it a career after his 25th and last Lazy E run at event’s end. He made a great steer roping run, then held his hands in the air a few extra seconds to savor the moment and share it with the crowd.
“When I won the Timed Event that last time in 2013, I was 40,” said Green, who’s 49 now. “I could still move, and had as much agility and quickness as I’ve ever had. Now I see what should happen, but my body’s just not getting there. I can feel that my athleticism is not where it was. I could continue, but I feel like I’m not as strong as I was.
“I’m going to be 50 in July. It’s OK to say, ‘Hey, I had a great run. What an honor to get to go that many times.’ The Timed Event is a kid’s game. It’s for athletes. Retirement has been on my heart for a while. I actually did it longer than I thought I would when I started. It’s been harder to get ready for it every year. And athletically, I don’t feel like I’m up to my own standard. It’s time to let somebody who’s hungry have my spot.”
Daniel’s also been extra busy at work since his dear dad, Vernon, died on May 5, 2021.
“Dad did all the bidding and ordered all the materials (for their VN Construction Company),” Daniel said. “I just did most of the work. Now that Dad’s gone, I have to handle his side of it, too, and line out all the subcontractors.”
Daniel just passed the test to become a general contractor on February 23 of this year, a couple weeks before the March 10-12 Timed Event. VN Construction is now Green Construction.
Before leaving the Fabulous Lazy E Arena for the last time, Green rode underneath his CTEC titlist banner and took the microphone. Above all, he thanked the fans. Then he high-fived forever Lazy E chute boss Delmar Smith, who’s 95 now, on his way out.
“The list is so long of people who made my 25 years at the Timed Event possible,” Daniel said. “Guys who helped me, people who let me ride their horses. The people here at the Lazy E have always been so gracious and nice to me. The sportsmedicine team that worked on me through the years, and are there to help all the contestants make a difference when we need it.
“I was emotional when I threw my hands in the air on that last run. What a blessing to go out with a good run. Saying goodbye was extremely hard. All the memories in that arena with those fans are extremely special to me. The Lazy E is also special to my family, because we’re originally from Oklahoma. The most prestigious wins in my career were right there at the Timed Event. The Lazy E rolled out the red carpet for me on my way out of that arena for the last time, and I’ll never forget it. I’m so glad my wife and kids were there with me. It really was the perfect exit.”
Green will go down in Timed Event history as one of the rare few who’ve struck more than once for the coveted CTEC win.
“The Timed Event Championship is the greatest event there is,” he said. “It’s the decathlon of rodeo. The ability to do more than one event—to get on different horses and do five different disciplines—takes a lot of versatility. The true cowboy comes out at the Timed Event. You cannot win the Timed Event without being a great cowboy. It’s the ultimate competition among world-class all-around cowboys, and they make it as hard as they can, because we compete on humongous, fresh, strong cattle.
“Are you good enough and strong enough to complete this course that’s the truest test of an all-around cowboy? There’s a reason there have been very few Timed Event champions over the years. The skillset it takes to succeed at this event is rare. Then there’s the mental battle. Sometimes, the negative mental thoughts are overwhelming. But you have to be able to mentally and physically withstand whatever punishment comes your way. The most important run is always your next one at the Timed Event.”
Twice as Nice
After licking his chops the last two years as an alternate, Clay Clayman made it clear he belonged in the Jr Ironman lineup. Great timing, too, as thanks to the World Champions Rodeo Alliance stepping up as the presenting sponsor, the check presented to the Jr Ironman champ doubled to $20,000 in 2022.
“I pretty well set aside a month and a half just to practice for the Jr Ironman because of the $20,000,” said Clayman, who daylighted the field with 111.2 seconds on 12 runs to reservist Dawson Price’s 131.9. “There are a lot of places you can win $10,000, but $20,000 makes a couple years difference. I skipped out on some other events to get ready for this one, and it paid off. I have a truck I ordered that’s coming in a couple weeks, and I just bought a living quarters trailer, too. I needed this money.”
Clayman’s 19, and calls Highlandville, Missouri home. He qualified for the 2022 Jr Ironman with a strong showing at last summer’s inaugural World Championship Junior Rodeo right there at the Lazy E. Clay won both the steer wrestling and all-around titles at the 2021 WCJR. When it comes to his best event, Clay considers it a coin toss between the bulldogging and heeling.
Another highlight of Clayman’s young career is the 2021 National High School Rodeo Association team roping title he won heeling for Cooper Freeman.
“Winning high school nationals was awesome, because it’s hard to get through that event,” Clay said. “But this Jr Ironman win is my biggest win. I knew I could do every event, but I didn’t know if I’d be good enough. I haven’t won very many all-arounds, and that’s what my family’s always been about—my grandpas, uncles and dad have all been all-around cowboys. Their primary event’s been bulldogging, but they team roped and calf roped, too.”
Contestants at the Cinch Timed Event Championship compete in five events—heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping. Jr Ironmen do four of the five—all but steer roping. Clayman enlisted some all-star helpers at his first Jr Ironman. In the heading, Paden Bray heeled. In the heeling, 2022 Cinch Timed Event Champ Erich Rogers headed. Clay’s dad, John Clayman, hazed for him in the steer wrestling.
Clay’s Jr Ironman horse herd was mostly homegrown.
“I rode my grandpa’s sorrel horse Max in the heading, and my palomino horse Shorty in the heeling,” Clayman said. “We bought both horses as weanlings. My grandpa broke them, and my uncle started them in the roping. I bulldogged on my gray horse Gus. I jumped my first steer on him on December 17. I trained him and the hazing horse, Diamond. The Jr Ironman was Gus and Diamond’s third rodeo. I rode Mason Appleton’s bay horse Scooby in the calf roping.”
Gus had a great week at the Lazy E. Clay won the Jr Ironman on him, and Rogers and Russell Cardoza finished first and third in the Timed Event on his back in the bulldogging. Clayman bought Diamond from Appleton, who’s his Chelsea, Oklahoma-based rodeo partner and was his main-man helper at the Jr Ironman.
“Talk about a team player,” Clay said. “Mason saddled for me, warmed up horses for me, cleaned stalls. I couldn’t have asked for better help. And we’ve already planned our circuit rodeos around this summer’s Cinch World Championship Junior Rodeo, because I want to be back here at the Jr Ironman again next year. The last week in July is already set aside for that.”
When it comes to career goals, Clayman hopes to one day compete in the Timed Event.
“I made the Great Lakes Circuit Finals in the team roping last year,” he said. “My goal is to also make it in the bulldogging this year. Mason and I are on our (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) permits this year. We want to make the circuit finals this year, so we can count it toward rookie of the year next year and go hard.
“I live four and a half hours from the Lazy E. This is the place, and I come here all the time. The BFI’s here now, too, and I’m heeling for Mason in that again this year. I love coming here. The Lazy E is awesome.”