by William J. Bechaver
DENVER- Josh Peek, Tie-Down Calf Roper and Steer Wrestler, finished up his week here at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo by handily winning the Calf Roping competition. When the finals began on Sunday afternoon, Josh had just over 10 seconds to rope and tie his calf to win the title, but he got the job done in 8.5 seconds, to win third in the finals, and take home the title with a total of 24.9 seconds on three head, to win the average. Since he also competed in the steer wrestling here, he also took home the award for Top All-Around Cowboy at the rodeo. Peek hails from Pueblo, bringing the coveted top prizes back to Southern Colorado, along with over $13,000 in prize money.
Josh Peek was not the only Southern Colorado cowboy to perform admirably during the finals. Ken Lewis of La Junta, won the final short round in the steer wrestling, bull-dogging his draw in a blazing 4.0 seconds, which bumped him up to a second-place slot in the average scores with a total of 14 seconds flat on three head. Also in the final round, the team roping duo of J. D. Yates, and Jay Wadhams, also from Pueblo, came in at fourth place, both in the round and in the average.
Peek has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the past two years, entering the 2008 finals as the top roper in the nation. Not coming away with the national title was a bit of a disappointment for the cowboy, but he began 2009 in top form, winning over $60 thousand and the calf roping title at Rodeo Houston earlier this month.
At the National Western, the road to the finals is not an easy one. The event lasts over two entire weeks, and features twenty-three rodeo performances, including the finals. Peek’s road to success began back during the third rodeo performance, on January 15th, where he handily won the round in 7.6 seconds, a full two seconds faster than the other competitors, three of which tied for the second spot. The following day, during the fourth performance, Peek had a time of 8.7 seconds, which was third in the round, but taking into consideration his previous time, his 16.3 total on two head almost instantly qualified him for the final round. All he had to do is wait — for ten days.
Before his final performance, Peek was excited about his chances. "It’s always good to win and it doesn’t matter where it is, but to win anything in Denver would be awesome." Peek said. "I have a lot of family and friends in the area so it’s fun to be here anyway. Winning something would be the icing on the cake." As it turned out, he won two of the top prizes, which not only translates to icing, but with a cherry on top.
So, from a field of hundreds of the nation’s best cowboys, competing over a two-week period, four Southern Colorado cowboys came out on top. Not a bad showing for our local boys.
As a note of interest, Josh Peek took the title from a young calf roper Tuf Cooper, of Decatur, Texas. The young cowboy won the round, but not the average nor the title. Although only eighteen years old, this was Cooper’s second time competing at the National Western Rodeo. Eleven years ago, at age seven, Cooper competed in the mutton bustin’, the entertainment event where children ride on sheep. On his first trip, Tuf came away victorious, winning the day in the mutton bustin’ competition.