There’s a reason only 16 cowboy ironmen in history have earned the title Timed Event Champion of the World. With five rounds in five events, the Cinch Timed Event Championship is the toughest, truest possible test of timed-event versatility, horsemanship and all-around cowboy handiness. Physical and mental strength and stamina are musts for mere survival, but these guys are the best in the business. In today’s ultra-competitive world of cowboy specialists, most have a favorite event—and also one they recognize as not their strongest suit, if they’re being brutally honest. Getting to see these gladiators go at it in so many events is part of what makes tickets to the Timed Event worth way more than the price of admission. Here’s what five members of this year’s TEC cowboy class have to say about which event they crave the most—and another maybe not so much.
Paul David Tierney
Paul David Tierney is one of eight Timed Event cowboys who’ll stick around for the March 14 BFI after three days at the March 11-13 Cinch Timed Event Championship. He’ll head for Gage Williams at the BFI, and will again enlist Jace Crabb for heading and heeling help at the Timed Event.
“I would say the heading is my strongest suit, just because it’s the event I do the most and I have a horse that fits that set-up at the Lazy E,” Tierney said. “It’s the one event where I might be able to make up a second or two, if I need to.
“The bulldogging is probably my weakest link, but as long as I have a horse that fits me it doesn’t bother me. I’d probably usually say it’s a tossup between the bulldogging and the steer roping when it comes to my least-favorite events. I’m not always super smooth in the steer roping. But probably the bulldogging this year, just because I’m still trying horses. That two weeks of cold set things back a little bit on the preparation schedule.”
Like Daddy Paul and Big Brother Jess, Paul David knows what it takes to get the Timed Event W. He won it all in 2014 and ’16.
“I look forward to the Timed Event every year, because I like getting to go there and do all the events, and also not trying to be as fast as you can possibly be every time you nod your head. I like that you can step back, relax and make a practice run at such a prestigious event, because that’s the smart play in a 25-header. You have to go really fast at the rodeos and jackpots to stand a chance anymore, especially at the one-headers. The Timed Event is a whole different ballgame, and that’s part of what makes it such a great cowboy contest.”
Jace Melvin just made his first National Finals Rodeo in 2020.
“My best event is the steer wrestling, but I like them all,” Melvin said. “Steer wrestling is just something I’ve spent my whole life working at. I’ve specialized at it trying to make the NFR, so I have a lot invested in it and take it really seriously.
“But in the last two months, I’ve gotten to do every event. I feel pretty prepared, so I can’t say that I have an event I dread now. I also don’t really want to say I have a weakest event, because I don’t feel like I have a bad event and I’m a positive thinker. You’ve got to speak things into existence.
“The event I’ve focused on the most lately is the steer roping. I’ve really put a lot of time into it this year to get comfortable with it. I don’t believe in focusing on what we can’t do. You have to trust in yourself. I know I’m not as good at some stuff, and that I need to work on those things. But when I go to the Timed Event, my mindset is to do what I’ve prepared to do, do it to the best of my ability and have fun. It’s fine to acknowledge the things that go wrong and work to fix them, but to dwell on negative things and things you can’t control is just not helpful to anyone.”
Seth Hall made an impressive showing at his first Timed Event in 2020.
“The calf roping is my bread-and-butter event and my main forte,” Seth said. “I’ve roped calves since I was a little kid, so that’s the one I’m most confident in, for sure.
“My least favorite event would be the tripping. I enjoy doing it, but it’s what I’ve done the least in competition. I haven’t done it for money as much as the others, so you could say it’s my ‘least used’ event.”
But ultimately, the Timed Event tests a cowboy’s all-around mettle.
“The stage they put us on at the Timed Event is really exciting,” Hall said. “Getting to go back to the historic Lazy E Arena and compete in this great event we all grew up watching is pretty amazing.”
Marcus Theriot has Shay Carroll helping him at both ends in the team roping at Thursday through Saturday’s Timed Event, and will head for cousin Cole Curry at Sunday’s BFI.
“I feel like the steer wrestling is probably my strongest event at the Timed Event,” said the Mississippi son of World Champion Tie-Down Roper Herbert Theriot. “The bulldogging eliminates a lot of people at this event. I probably head better than I do anything else, but a lot of people get through that there.
“As for my least favorite event, I would rather barrel race than steer rope. I dread the tripping. I’ve worked at it more this year than the last four years put together, because it’s killed me every year. I decided I have to get better at it to have a chance. But I love the bulldogging at the Timed Event. It’s a bigger arena and the steers are always good.”
What stands out to Theriot after competing at the Timed Event a few times?
“You have to be a pretty handy person in everything you do up there,” he said. “And it’s never over ’til it’s over. It’s a lot like a match roping in that way—anything can change at any time. That’s one of the things I love about the Timed Event. If I was going to buy a ticket and go watch one event a year, it would 100 percent be the Timed Event. I love that thing, and look forward to it every year.”
Clayton Hass is a four-time NFR steer wrestler.
“My strongest event is the steer wrestling,” Hass said. “It’s what I do day in and day out. It’s the event I’ve had a passion for and have worked the hardest at.
“I honestly don’t feel like I have a weak event, but I work at the calf roping the least. I still compete a little in the team roping and steer roping, but not the calf roping.”
Hass is well aware of the mental marathon that’s part of Timed Event participation.
“I think it’s important not to get caught up in the drama there,” he said. “You’ve just got to do you at the Timed Event. To me, it’s about taking your first good shot and doing what you can do. The money at the Timed Event is a big deal, but the Timed Event is a cowboy’s game. I worked my butt off growing up to become a cowboy, and this event shows how talented guys are.
“You may only get to see me bulldog or Taylor Santos rope calves at the rodeos, but you get to see every guy do it all at the Timed Event. To get an invite to compete at The Ironman is pretty awesome. It’s a pretty cool feeling just knowing you’re a special enough cowboy to be there.”
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.