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Team roping returns to Jamestown this weekend

Two riders work on roping a steer last year during the Wrangler Team Roping Championship Qualifier at the James River Rodeo Grounds on the Stutsman County Fairgrounds. (Photo courtesy/Buffalo City Tourism Foundation)

Cattle roping teams from around the region have a chance to cowboy up this weekend at the Wrangler Team Championship Qualifier in Jamestown.

This team-roping event spans Saturday and Sunday and is open to roping teams of all skill levels. There's also no admission charge for those who just want to watch some riders show off some skills.

"There's a lot going on in one team-roping run that a spectator doesn't see," said Dennis Tyran, owner of Wrangler Team Roping Championships. "But if I was watching it I'd see 10 different things going on in that run."

It's a repetitive sport, where the steer gets a head start. One rider heads in front of the steer and ropes either the horns or head and another rider ropes the back feet.

It's a timed event where penalties are given out for infractions like a head start on the steer, or only roping one foot.

"Team roping is a lot like golf, you keep doing the same thing," Tyran said. "It's a sport that's hard to perfect.

"It's one of the toughest sports in rodeo to make the whole run come complete because there's two people, two horses and a steer."

While it's one of the toughest sports in rodeo, according to Tyran, the Wrangler Team Roping Championship series features a handicap system so no one team is overmatched against another team.

Each rider is assigned a value of 1 through 7, with 1 being for a novice and 7 for an expert. Events then will have a limit. For example, an event with a limit of four could have a rider rated a 3 paired with a rider rated at 1, or a team with two riders with values of 2.

The larger, heavier steers are used for the higher handicaps. Close to 150 different steers will be on hand.

"We try to have something for everybody to compete in," Tyran said. "Whether your number is real high or real low, we want to give you something so you can come and enjoy the sport of team roping."

Just as all skill levels will be on display so will all ages. In Jamestown, he expects riders from 14 to 70 years old. In the past he's seen riders as young as 10 and some into their 80s.

"That's why I compare it to golf," he said. "It's a sport you can do all your life, you don't get too old for it and you're really not too young for it."

Ropers who compete in Jamestown will be eligible for the Wrangler National Team Roping Finals Oct. 2-7 in Billings, Mont.

Anyone who participates will be eligible for national competition. But the serious competition at nationals will be riders who compete for a circuit title.

At Saturday's event the payout in prizes and cash will be more than $20,000, and on Sunday between $8,000 and $10,000 in prizes and cash will be paid out.

There are about 60 Wrangler Team Roping Championship Qualifiers across the country in the course of the year. Riders who compete at multiple events earn more points for a better shot at the circuit title.

Tyran is expecting teams from the Dakotas, Minnesota, Canada and Wisconsin to be at this weekend's event.

With highs in the 70s and a zero percent chance of rain he expects between 700 and 800 teams to compete over the two-day event at the James River Rodeo Grounds at the Stutsman County Fairgrounds.

Competitors can sign up at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with the event starting at 7 p.m. On Sunday, signup starts at 8 a.m. with the event starting at 9 a.m. Cost is $45 a person.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at