Another local rodeo athlete will compete this weekend at RFD-TV’s The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Kirby Hill will be competing in The American Cowboy #12.5 team roping event. This event is run in a slightly different format to that of which Melancon and White will be competing in.
The American Cowboy #10 and now #12.5 are their own events. These teams will not be roping for the million, but their own payoff, which has now exceeded $709,000.
Denny Gentry, founder of the USTRC (United States Team Roping Championships), the World Series of Team Roping and the director of roping operations for Active Interest Media, last year announced in The Team Roping Journal of the new format that would allow ropers another opportunity to take a swing at AT&T Stadium in Arlington during The American event.
When it comes to team roping, ropers are divided into a numbered category beginning with #1 for a beginner all the way up to a #12, #13, or open status. When ropers enter a rodeo, both ropers (header, and heeler) add their numbers to equal the event they wish to rope in. For example, you can have a low numbered roper like a #4 partner with a #6 and they can rope in the #10 or higher roping if they choose, but with the disadvantage of having a lower-numbered roper on your team, you may just be roping for the experience.
At RFD-TV’s The American, Hill will partner up with Cody Gantt as they rope against five other teams.
“This is the first year they have held the American #12, it’s a chance for amateur ropers to rope on one of the biggest stages in rodeo,” said Hill.
For Hill and his partner, they have a long history of roping together, over 20-years, and Hills says he feels confident heading into the big event this weekend.
“Cody’s from Corsicana and we’ve known each other for about 20-years, he actually used to work for me when he was in high school,” said Hill.
Hill will be backing into the box on his 6-year old mare named Betty, who actually came from Cole Melancon’s granddad, Scotty Hart.
“She is one of the best horses I’ve ever owned, especially to be so young,” Hill said of his mount.
Though when you have the years of experience such as Hill, it’s not the nerves that dig into you at this stage of the game, rather the notion that you will get to compete on your sports biggest world stage.
“My sons and I have all roped and competed for many years, and to make it to this large of a stage is beyond amazing. We joked since the moment we won in Athens we were headed to AT&T Stadium and somehow we made it,” he said, “I guess the hard parts over now. It’s just one more steer in front of millions of people, just another day.”
So, as we head into the biggest rodeo event of the year, just a mere two-hours down the road, Lamar County has their own ‘triple threat’ of athletes who will attempt to bring home the biggest payout of their sporting careers.