Brandon Beers and Jim Ross Cooper got a late start on the 2013 rodeo season.
Pals since their youth when their fathers were standout ropers on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit — Mike Beers and Jimmie Cooper are both former world champions — Brandon and Jim Ross did not start seriously hitting the 2013 PRCA circuit until late June.
And they have been on fire ever since.
Heading into this weekend's Columbia River Circuit Finals in Redmond, Brandon Beers, a header from Powell Butte, and Jim Ross Cooper, a heeler from Monument, N.M., both sit at No. 3 in the world standings in their respective team roping categories. Beers has won $97,373 so far this season, approximately $15,000 back of PRCA header leader Clay Tryan, of Billings, Mont., who has made $112,981. Ross has pocketed $105,195 this year, less than $6,000 behind Jade Corkill, of Fallon, Nev., the PRCA's leading heeler in 2013 with winnings of $111,350.
“Jim and I talked and the plan was to go to Reno (in June) and rodeo hard through the Fourth of July (weekend),” says Beers, 27, who is looking to claim his first Columbia River Circuit Finals title on Saturday.
He has $27,909 in CRC winnings this year, some $11,000 more than current runner-up Riley Minor, of Ellensburg, Wash.
“If we didn't do so good, we'd ease around and still go to some circuit rodeos,” Beers says. “We were committed to each other through this year, though, whether we rodeoed good or not, and we figured we'd go hard again next year.
“That first rodeo went great,” Beers says about the Reno Rodeo, at which he and Cooper placed fifth in the average. “Once it started, it's never slowed down.”
Beers figures he had $4,400 in winnings before Reno, meaning that in the past four months he has pulled in about $93,000 in PRCA money. The boyhood buddies have won five rodeos since catching fire in the Silver State and only once all season have they worked a weekend without cashing a PRCA check.
“And even then we took third at a (non-PRCA) roping event and won about $13,000,” Beers says.
A two-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, Beers had a tough go last season when he finished 53rd in the world and won just $17,046 on the PRCA tour. He and Cooper, 29, who in 2011 went to the National Finals as partners, did not rope together last season after one of Beers' horses was injured.
“It wasn't a partner split-up,” Beers says. “I didn't feel like I could be competitive.”
Instead, Beers mainly hit local events with Prineville's Cully Stafford, winning both the Sisters Rodeo and the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo. With two healthy animals heading into this year, Beers and Cooper, who advanced to the 2012 NFR with Prineville cowboy Charly Crawford, decided to make another run on the big stage in 2013.
“Since we started winning, our goal hasn't been just to make the Finals, but how high can we be going in,” says Beers, who made his first NFR appearance in 2007 with his father. “That's what's really helped us. We're not just hoping to get 15th. That's how I usually thought; 'I just want to get in.' Now we want to go in as No. 1.”
After this weekend's CRC Finals, Beers plans to take a few days off for an elk hunt before making final preparations for the 2013 NFR next month in Las Vegas.
“The circuit finals are always fun,” Beers says. “It's a neat atmosphere and there's a lot of people. And it's always nice knowing your next rodeo is the (NFR).”
2013 Columbia River Circuit Finals
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hooker Creek Event Center at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Redmond
Cost: $15 for each evening performance; for Saturday's afternoon performance, $10 for adults and free for kids under 18
Ticket information: 1-888-849-2723