The 2023 Cinch Timed Event Championship winner’s circle was a happy place for Oklahoma’s own Cody Doescher. Lazy E Photo by James Phifer
He did it. Oklahoma City’s Cody Doescher won the 2023 Cinch Timed Event Championship, and kept the Ironman of Pro Rodeo crown in the Sooner State for the first time since this ultimate cowboy contest started at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie back in 1985. It took Doescher 10 tries to take the $100,000 champ’s check home, and the 30-minute commute made it easy for family and friends to be there to cheer on their hometown hero.
“This is by far the biggest win of my career,” beamed a breathless 32-year-old Doescher at event’s end. “I’m not rodeoing that hard anymore, so to even be here is a blessing. To come out on top is unbelievable.”
Before now, the biggest check of Doescher’s cowboy career was for $50,000, when he won the team roping at RodeoHouston heeling for Tommy Edens in 2011. The best news about that was a banner bank deposit. The bad news was that Houston was not sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at that time, so the money didn’t count toward the world standings.
The financial fact that jumps off the page about Doescher’s Timed Event track record is that in nine previous appearances, his total CTEC earnings were $12,500.
“I won a round last year, and have placed in some rounds over the years,” Doescher said. “But winning fifth one year was the only time I’d ever placed in the average before now.”
Doescher changed all that by dragging down a whopping $107,000 at this year’s 39th annual Cinch Timed Event Championship. After a slow start in Round 1, in which he finished 15th, Doescher rebounded with the Round 2 win, and second-place finishes in Rounds 3 and 4. He placed fifth in Round 5 to close the deal, but not before taking the air out of the building with a first-loop neck catch on his last steer roping run right there at the finish line.
When the red-dirt Lazy-E dust settled after 25 runs—five rounds each in heading, tie-down roping, heeling, steer wrestling and steer roping—Doescher’s 312.7 bested the 20-Timed-Event-titan field. California native Russell Cardoza, who now calls Oregon home, was the 2023 reserve CTEC champ at 321.7 on 25 for $25,000.
California’s Lane Karney, who’s big brother to 2020 CTEC titlist Taylor Santos, finished third for $15,000. Nebraska’s Riley Wakefield, who had an impressive showing at his first Timed Event, won $10,000 for fourth. Fellow CTEC first-timer Nelson Wyatt rounded out the top-five 2023 finishers to take $7,500 back to Alabama.
Doescher’s Day Job
Interesting is that this year’s Timed Event top three don’t rodeo for a living, which after years on the road is something new for Doescher and Cardoza. Doescher has a family and a job now. He and his wife, Courtney, have three kids to raise in Paizley, 11, Rance, 7, and Holten, 2.
“I’m a ring man, which means I stand there and take bids,” Cody said of his day job. “I work horse and car auctions all over the country. My auction career is taking off like crazy, and I’m staying super busy with that. I still have a goal to make the steer roping finals once we get a place bought. But for now, it’s about making money and providing for my family.”
It was perfect timing for this windfall win.
“This money is life-changing for us,” Doescher said. “We’ve outgrown the single-wide we live in, and have been looking to buy a place. I couldn’t ask for anything more right now.”
The Difference for Doescher
What was the difference that put him over the top in his 10th trip to the Timed Event?
“For me, it was the mental game,” Doescher said. “To win this thing, you’ve got to draw good, for one. For two, you have to be mentally tough and disciplined. Toward the end, Tyler Pearson told me, ‘Don’t let the moment control you. You control the moment.’ I just tried to relax, do my job and stay out of the moment until it was over.
“What he said really hit home for me after the calf roping, especially going into my three most comfortable events (heeling, steer wrestling and steer roping) right there at the end. That helped my mindset so much. My mind was so much different this year, and it’s unbelievable the amount of support I’ve gotten. The support system of family and friends I have, and the help they’ve given me is unbelievable.”
Now that Cody’s cleared the obstacles that stand between 25 runs and success, he’s in even more awe over what sets this event apart from all others.
“Guys have to get outside their comfort zones at the Timed Event,” he said. “You have to be mentally and physically strong. You have to be able to score, you have to have good horses, and you have to use your horses. This is not just a go-fast deal where you can get lucky. It’s 25 head over three days, and staying mentally strong that long has been a struggle of mine. I finally got it all put together.”
Horse and Human Helpers
Doescher rode Adam Hubler’s buckskin head horse in the heading; his own mare, Ginger, in the heeling; Kyle Myers’ calf horse, Casino; David Reagor’s bulldogging horse, Vanilla Ice; and his own steer horse, Holyfield.
In addition to the horses, there are the human helpers it takes to tackle the Timed Event. NFR heeler Douglas Rich headed and heeled for Doescher in the team roping, and Reagor lined his steer wrestling steers.
Doescher didn’t take the lead until four rounds into the five-round CTEC marathon.
“I just tried to stick to my game plan, no matter what,” he said. “I knew I had to stay aggressive and stick to my game, no matter what anybody else did. All I tried to do, start to finish, was my job.
“I wanted to relax, and not get frustrated or press unless I had to. The plan was to not beat myself, and to just go beat every steer and every calf, and do what I know how to do and not get too far out of my comfort zone. I wanted to rope aggressive, use my horses and be smart, all at the same time.”
Lazy E Local
Doescher’s a lifelong local at the Lazy E.
“This place is unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve been coming to the Lazy E since I was a little kid, and had a lot of success here when I was younger. I love the Lazy E. It’s like a second home to me.”
What did Doescher learn about himself at the 2023 Timed Event that he didn’t know before?
“I learned that I’m capable of being a lot more mentally strong than I thought,” he said. “I wanted to trust in the Lord, know that He’s got me and just be mentally stable.
“If I had to pick one word for this win, it would be ‘blessed.’ To see the names up there (on the past Timed Event champions banners) in the rafters of the Lazy E, and think that I’ll be up there amongst them, is an unbelievable feeling I’ve never had before.”
Cowboy Young Guns
This year’s Jr Ironman presented by WCRA, which is three rounds in four events—heading, tie-down roping, heeling and steer wrestling—was won by a familiar face to longtime Lazy E fans. Arizona’s Ketch Kelton set the new 107.4-second gold standard on 12 head en route to the $20,000 payday, which rewrites the record set by 2022 Jr Ironman Champ Clay Clayman, who won last year’s event in 111.2 seconds.
Kelton was the cute little 5-year-old kid chasing cattle out on the paint pony a dozen years ago at the 2011 Timed Event. He’s the son of Chance and Tammy Kelton, and little brother to big sister Kenzie. Chance Kelton is a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo header, and five-time National Finals Steer Roping qualifier. He competed at the Timed Event 12 straight years, from 1999 through 2011.
Missouri’s Clayman finished second only to Kelton in 2023, but the margin of victory was wide, with Clayman finishing 55.2 seconds behind Kelton at 162.6, after taking a 60 in the final round of heading. (buy ambient music)
It was a tight, two-man fight most of the way in the Jr Ironman. Clayman topped Round 1, but Kelton stayed within striking distance at less than three seconds back in second. Ketch countered with the Round 2 win, and took the average lead over Clayman—barely—72.4 on eight run to Clay’s 73.7.
Texan Kreece Dearing topped Round 3, but Kelton took the wheel in the driver’s seat and never took his foot off the gas. He finished second in Round 3, and all told left the Lazy E $21,250 richer. Clayman earned $5,000 for his second-place finish, and Tennessee’s Conner Griffith cashed a $2,000 check for third in the Jr Ironman average.
No stranger to the winner’s circle, Ketch is the reigning National High School Rodeo Association All-Around Cowboy.
“This is my best win so far, because my dad came here and I always came here with him and wanted to be here,” said the 17-year-old high school junior, who competed in the Jr Ironman for the first time in 2023. “I love this event. Doing every event back-to-back-to-back makes it fun.”
Kelton’s Cowboy Village
Kelton headed and heeled on his horse Boone, roped calves on a Brent Lewis-trained horse, and bulldogged on Damian Padilla’s steer wrestling horse. World Champion Header Aaron Tsinigine headed for Kelton in the heeling, and two-time CTEC titlist Kyle Lockett heeled for him in the heading. World Champion Steer Wrestler Pearson, who sat out this year’s Timed Event to get healed up from a broken collarbone, handled Kelton’s hazing.
Ketch attends a construction trade school in the mornings, and the Keltons rope as a family in the afternoons. Team roping is their main event, although switch-ender supreme Ketch can’t quite decide if he’d rather head or heel just yet. They rope a few calves when they can, and leave the steer wrestling to the high school rodeos. In addition to team roping—he’s heading for Denton Dunning this year—Kelton also enters the tie-down roping, steer wrestling and reined cow horse at the high school rodeos.
Ketch says his next goal is to try and defend his NHSRA all-around title. The ultimate, he says, is to “just do what I love.”
“I love the Jr Ironman,” said Kelton, whose young cowboy life has been most influenced by his dad and Grandpa Willy Kelton, “who’s just always been there, and stays so positive.
“I love the Lazy E, and this big, long score. I had a game plan coming in to just catch everything, and get ’em all knocked down with no penalties. We got it done, so that feels pretty good. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this money. But I guess that’s a pretty good problem to have.”
Expect the Unexpected
If there is one thing you can count on at the Cinch Timed Event Championship and Jr Ironman, it’s that anything can happen. The 2023 event had it all, from the impressive success of newcomers to broken ropes for KC Jones and Cole Patterson to witnessing World Champion Header Colby Lovell sprint the length of that 440-foot Lazy E Arena in hot pursuit of winning a grueling game of beat the clock with a salty steer wrestling steer.
We’ve all come to expect the unexpected from the cowboy gladiators handy and tough enough to take on the Timed Event. And that makes for great watching.