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Riley and Brady Minor compete in the WestStar Best of the Best Open Team Roping event in Ellensburg in 2018. This year’s event takes place Wednesday.

WESTSTAR RANCH — Nobody’s ever questioned the idea that the best ropers in the world come to the WestStar Ranch during the week leading up to Labor Day. Wednesday afternoon is no exception.

It’s fitting in the 17th and final year the Repp family hosts the WestStar Best of the Best Open Roping all but just a couple of the top 50 team roping duos in the world will compete for more than $160,000 in cash.

What used to be a winning payout of $20,000 per team ($10,000 per man) is now doubled to $40,000 per team. While the Repp family was still ironing out payout schedules late last week, the roping will most likely pay out the top eight in the average.

“It’s going to be a great roping,” Ryan Motes, the top-ranked heeler in the world, said earlier this month. “It’s always been a really good roping, but it’s going to be the biggest one ever.”

While the family decided to make this their last year in hosting the prestigious event, talks began a while ago in ensuring the event gets passed on to locals focused on preserving a tradition and building upon the foundation laid by the Repp family.

Before they hand off the reigns to others, there’s yet another jackpot to produce.

“We’ve had incredible support,” Jo Repp said last week. “You develop a lot of friendships over the years.”

Those friends are competitive in the arena though.

“These are the best guys in the world,” seventh-ranked heeler Travis Graves said Monday night. “That’s who we rope against every day. As a spectator and fan, you’re not going to go to a better roping. They’re all going to be here and it’s going to be great watching.”

Jake Long, third in this week’s heeler standings agreed.

“As competitors we’re used to seeing all the best week after week. Iron sharpens iron. As fans and as spectators, it’s a phenomenal roping to watch.

“It’s a little bit of throwback,” Long continued. “It’s not throwing over the chute, you’ve got to use your horse and run ‘em down there. It’s a little more of an endurance contest.”

The five-round event is progressive on one. Ropers will win fast-time money in rounds one and five, but the real payout is for those who rope consistent through five rounds.

“The WestStar is one of my favorite ropings,” Graves said. “The Repps do a great job putting it on and letting us stay here— $20,000 a man for first and I think they’re paying eight or nine places. They do a great job of not just overloading first. All the holes pay good. It’s just nice to go to a roping that pays good money. I look forward to it every year.”

The big money isn’t just reserved for the professionals. The popular Pro-Am, where amateurs rope with their professional counterparts, will pay $10,000 to each amateur winner — header, heeler and an all-girls header bracket.

Wednesday’s schedule begins with the Pro-Am at around 1 p.m. As always, the kids dummy roping begins at 2 p.m. with the finals scheduled for an hour later in the arena. The Best of the Best Open Roping, announced by Ellensburg Rodeo announcer Justin McKee, starts around 4 p.m.

Admission to the event is $20 with proceeds going to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame. The WestStar Arena sits at 1570 Robinson Canyon Road.

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