With a lasso coiled neatly in his hand and the rippling muscles of his mount settling with anticipation beneath him, Oakdale’s Tanner Kent took a second to capture the moment in front of over 4,000 fans at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyoming, home to the 2013 National High School Finals Rodeo.
“It’s a scary moment,” Kent said. “You take a deep breath and then it all just happens right in front of you.
“You can only react.”
Kent’s quick reactions, coupled with those of lifetime friend and partner Case Hirdes, surrendered the head and heel of a steer in blisteringly-fast 5.2-seconds. The mark proved the fastest time of any ropers, and carried the pair to a fourth place overall finish amongst the top prep cowboys from the United States, Canada and Australia.
“We grew up together, and knowing your partner in team roping is a real good thing,” Kent said. “We practiced all year to be fast, and everything just came together.”
For their effort, the two received three buckles, over $1,000 each in scholarships and a roar from the crowd that neither will forget.
“There is not an open seat in that place, and the crowd just went crazy after our fastest run,” Kent said. “All that adrenaline from the crowd really pumps you up.”
Kent and Hirdes were first in the California State Rodeo, and went 3-4 with fellow Golden State pair, Mason Mardesich and Luke Pfister of Gridley. The event title was captured by Brody Adams and Dax Barnson of Utah.
The action was Kent’s second on such a stage, after qualifying for the event in 2012.
“This time was a little different, and I had a different strategy,” Kent said. I was more focused and I knew what I had to do, from all of my previous experiences.”
As the header, Kent is the first to act on his team roping duo. He chases down the steer, quickly lassos its horns, then pulls taught as Hirdes snags the heels. In 5.2-seconds it’s only a blur, but one Kent and Hirdes have perfected over the years.
The two train with a collection of friends and Tanner’s brother, Travis, on the Kent’s Oakdale ranch.
“I would like to thank all the people who supported me and helped me get to where I am today,” Kent said on Monday. “I would also like to thank my sponsors Cactus Ropes, Resistol, Twisted Wire and My Cars of Salinas.
Tanner, who is an Oakdale Charter School student, has said he hopes his own actions will convince more people to enjoy rodeo. He will join Hirdes for professional team roping action in the annual Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo next year.
Even on that stage, a 5.2-second time will be pretty epic.