The 2023 Cinch Timed Event Championship is right around the corner, and the world’s most talented all-around cowboys will return to battle March 2-4 at the fabulous Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. These wildly talented and versatile warriors will go head-to-head grueling marathon style in five rounds of heading, heeling, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and steer roping to vie for the champion’s check of $100,000. No Western-world cowboy competition is more demanding or prestigious than this one. In the words of four-time Timed Event titlist Paul Tierney, who has two sons in the field again this year, “The Timed Event is a king of kings event.”
“Winning the Timed Event last year was a big, big deal to me—still is,” said 2022 CTEC Champ Erich Rogers of Round Rock, Arizona. “I’m kind of scared this year, like I’m up on stage and I’ve got to perform again. There are a lot of expectations for me to repeat. Do you know how hard it is to repeat at this event?”
This year’s Timed Event fans will be treated to a star-studded field that represents the 20 best all-around hands on the planet from Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Wyoming and Canada. The Jr Ironman will run in conjunction with the CTEC, and showcase the talents of the rising stars of the rodeo world and feature 10 young guns from Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
“You don’t go to any other event and work that many events,” noted Rogers, who’s 36. “The Timed Event is one of a kind, and one of the most prestigious events of the year. It’s a battle between the top 20 all-around cowboys in the world who are handy with a rope and can wrestle a steer. We’re all pretty excited to be headed back to the Lazy E.”
The 2017 world champion header has been busy gathering all the help he needs, both horse and human, to tackle the Timed Event test. What he’ll ride in the steer wrestling and who will haze for him in that event is yet to be determined, but he plans to head on his gray mare, Elsa; heel on his 2023 rodeo partner Paul Eaves’ mare Jade; tie-down rope on one of Josh and Spencer Whipple’s horses; and steer rope on Lee and Cody Lee’s horse Balla. Logan Olson will head for Rogers, and Eaves will heel for him.
A couple of cowboys best known in the professional rodeo ranks as world-class headers will make their Timed Event debuts in March. Texan Colby Lovell is the 2020 world champion header, and Canadian Kolton Schmidt is a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo header.
“I’ve gone to all the ranch rodeos, and have worked a lot of events my whole life,” said Lovell, 35, who lives in Madisonville, Texas. “I’ve always wanted to go to the Timed Event, but it’s always been during the ranch rodeo in Houston, and I always rode for my grandpa’s ranch down there. But I figured it was time to try the Timed Event. It’s kind of a bucket-list type thing.”
Lovell actually just started steer wrestling in December. Wyatt Carney’s been bringing him along in the bulldogging, and “I’ve enjoyed learning how to steer wrestle,” Lovell said. “I’ve never done it until now, but I’m putting in the work, so hopefully with a little luck I’ll be ready.”
Steer roping is relatively new to his repertoire, too. “But I’m fixing to really get after it for the next month,” Colby continued. “I head and heel all the time, and I roped calves all through high school and college.”
Most fans think of Lovell as a header, because of that gold buckle and seven NFR back numbers all from over on the heading side. But rodeo insiders know all about his heeling handiness.
“I grew up heeling my whole life until the first year I made it (the NFR in 2010) when I got to rope with Kory Koontz,” Lovell said. “The first time I ever left the house and got to be around guys who were great was with Kevin Stewart and Martin Lucero when I was 15. I was heeling for Justin Davis, and I went and amateur rodeoed with them. A lot of those rodeos were go-twice, so we swapped partners.
“But I like everything being on my shoulders heading. I feel like if I can be prepared, disciplined and have good horses, we will win. If I do my job enough times heading, it’s going to pay off. When we don’t win, I take the blame. I’ve been fortunate to rope with the best heelers in the world. It’s hard to trump that.”
Lovell plans to head on a horse he sold to a friend that they call Festus, heel on Eaves’ Guapo, tie-down rope on Gary Wells’ Kit Brooks and bulldog on Clay Clayman’s gray. He hasn’t yet selected his steer roping mount. Reigning World Champion Header Kaleb Driggers will head and heel for Lovell, who’s a ranch and rodeo cowboy. It’s no surprise that the wide open spaces of the world-famous 440-foot Lazy E arena suit his style.
“I love the Lazy E,” he said. “I’ve been going there forever, and love roping in that arena. I don’t want to miss the barrier there in the steer wrestling, but I like how cattle aren’t trapped and feel like they have a chance to get away. You really get to see good horses in a big arena like that.”
Schmidt’s a native of Barrhead, Alberta, Canada, but these days makes his home in Stephenville, Texas.
“The Timed Event is just something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m not getting any younger, so it’s time,” said Schmidt, 28. “I grew up watching old Timed Event tapes, and always thought it was really cool. There’s so much that goes into competing at the Timed Event. It looks rewarding.
“And the horse side of the Timed Event is a big part of it. It takes so many good horses, and there are so many obstacles to overcome. When you make five runs in five events, you know it’s going to get bad at some point and you’re going to have to get through it and finish it off.”
Like all Timed Event titans, Schmidt has more experience in some events than others. His NFR heading back numbers speak for themselves.
“I’ve heeled a lot, and jackpotted heeling everywhere,” he said. “I high school, college and Canadian rodeoed in the tie-down. I bulldogged in high school and college, and entered a few Canadian rodeos in that, too.
“Steer roping is the event that’s new to me. I’m learning that, and am amazed by it. I love it. It’s something new involving a rope and a horse, and that’s something I don’t get to experience very often. Heeling might be the event I’m most nervous about going in, though. I used to be good at it, but now I haven’t done it in forever.”
Schmidt thought he had all his horses and help lined out, but, “I’ve had some hiccups come up in the last week. I’m getting it all figured out again now.” That’s pretty typical, and he, too, loves the Lazy E. Schmidt looks forward to going back for both the Timed Event and the 46th annual BFI on April 1.
“The Lazy E is like a pasture roping,” smiled Schmidt, who’s heading for Jake Minor at the rodeos this year. “There are no boundaries. Everything’s wide open, which makes it a little wild and good watching.
“I think having the BFI at the Lazy E is awesome also. It’s definitely a change of scenario. We all grew up watching the BFI in Reno. But I like the big arena, the time of year it’s held now, that it’s closer to the house and pays great. There’s a lot to like about it.”
Rogers will wear back #1. Rounding out the 2023 Cinch Timed Event Championship field in order of finish from last year will be Clayton Hass, Russell Cardoza, Taylor Santos, Paul David Tierney, Haven Meged, Roger Nonella, Lane Karney, Cole Patterson, Marcus Theriot, Shad Mayfield, Tyler Pearson, Cody Doescher, Jess Tierney, Kyle Lockett, Seth Hall, Justin Thigpen, KC Jones, Lovell and Schmidt. Rogers, Santos, Lockett, Thigpen, Theriot, Jones and both Tierney brothers are past champions who know what it’s like to come out King of the Timed Event Mountain and take home that $100,000 check.
The Jr Ironman is held during the TEC, and is three rounds in four events—heading, heeling, tie-down roping and steer wrestling. The champ’s check is worth a whopping $20,000. Missouri’s Clay Clayman will return to defend his 2022 title, and will be joined by Connor Griffith, Evan Bottini, Caleb Lake, Wyatt Williams, Jake Holmes, Dylan Hancock, Mason Appleton, Ketch Kelton and Kreece Dearing on the 10-young-gun roster.
The 2023 Cinch Timed Event Championship will feature five performances: Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m.; Friday, March 3, 12 and 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 4, 12 and 7 p.m. The three Jr Ironman perfs will be held Thursday, March 2 at 5 p.m.; Friday, March 3 at 5 p.m.; and Saturday, March 4 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at www.LazyE.com. See you at the E!