GUTHRIE — It was a night of close calls Saturday for Oklahoma cowboys at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo and none more than for Jerome Schneeberger.
The Ponca City roper came as close as someone can to winning a national championship without winning it. Schneeberger qualified to the final four in the tie-down roping Saturday night at the Lazy E Arena and its sudden death format.
In the championship round, the slate is wiped clean in the circuit finals. It was one run among the final four ropers, winner take all.
Schneeberger went first and posted a fast time of 7.7 seconds, only to see Colorado’s Josh Peek match that on the very next run.
The pair finished tied for first, but Peek was awarded the title and the $20,000 automobile voucher from RAM because he had a faster time in the semifinal round.
“About as close as you can get,” Schneeberger said.
Schneeberger, a former average winner in the National Finals Rodeo, said he was feeling good about his chances after posting a time of 7.7 seconds.
“I thought they had to come after me after mine was a 7.7,” Schneeberger said. “Josh, he backed in there and had ice water in his veins.”
Schneeberger said his last run was the best he made during the three-day rodeo, which featured champions from each of the Professional Rodeo Association’s 12 circuits.
“I roped well this week, I just didn’t come out on top,” he said.
Peek wasn’t sure he had won at first.
“I felt like I was nine seconds,” Peek said of his run in the championship round. “I knew coming into this go-round I was going to have to go at it. I knew it was going to take a 7 second run to win it. When he went out with a 7.7, I just told myself to be aggressive at the start.”
Two other Oklahoma cowboys also had to settle for second place Saturday night. In the team roping, Nick Sartain of Dover and Reagan Ward of Edmond posted an impressive 4.4 seconds in the short round, but were beaten by the Colorado team of Ty Blasingame and J.W. Borrego, which had a time of 3.9 seconds.
A former Oklahoma cowboy did claim a national title. Alabama’s Kyle Irwin won the national title in steer wrestling with time of 3.3 seconds in the championship round.
Irwin was a rodeo cowboy for two years at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.
“I got by tonight through the skin of my teeth,” Irwin said. “I was the eighth guy for the eight man (semifinals) and the fourth man (for the four-man finals).”
Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas, who was a member of two national championship rodeo teams at Oklahoma State University, won the national circuit title in barrel racing.