Clay Smith

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BADGER POCKET — Clay Smith, a roper known as a two-time world champion team roping header, showed his roping expertise isn’t limited to team roping when he won Tuesday’s steer roping to open the Ellensburg Rodeo.

Hosted outside the Ellensburg Rodeo arena in Badger Pocket, Smith placed in both rounds and took the average with a 20.3-second average on two runs.

“I’m a team roper first,” Smith said. “This summer I haven’t tripped much. I probably have gone to eight so far this year.”

Consider this one his most successful of the year.

Smith’s 10.3-second run was third in the first round for $804, nearly a second behind Landon McClaughtery’s 9.5 (which netted the go-round winner $1,227). Vin Fisher, Jr., a 17-time National Finals Steer Roping qualifier was second in the round with a 9.9 for $1,015.

Smith’s 10-flat run in the second round was good for second and another $1,015, nearly a second behind J. Tom Fisher’s 9.1, which was the fastest on the afternoon. J. Tom Fisher won Ellensburg in 2018.

Smith’s aggregate win netted the Oklahoma cowboy another $1,840 for $3,659 on the day. Smith isn’t much of a factor in the steer roping world standings, coming into the week ranked 42nd. The Ellensburg money pushes him to 38th in the world, which is still nearly $17,000 out of the top 15 needed to make the NFSR. Smith is entered in Lewiston and Pendleton later this month and might catch some final steer tripping events down south at the end of September.

Despite the disadvantage in the standings, the nearly $3,700 day pushes him past 100-grand won on the year for the All-Around standings where he’s fifth behind world leader Stetson Wright, Paden Bray, Tuf Cooper and Caleb Smidt. He’s fourth in the header standings with partner Jade Corkill.

For now, the full-time team roper was happy to win a check during a typically windy day in Ellensburg.

“For sure, I’m glad they put it on,” he said.

Vin Fisher, Jr., is ranked second in the world standings with $59,274 on the year and earned $2,538 for his work. McClaughtery’s $1,798 pushes the Texas roper to ninth in the standings with $34,700 and probably seals his third straight – and fifth overall – trip to the NFSR.

Cole Patterson, who last week broke the regular-season earnings record with $100,631 in the bank, caught his first-round steer in 10.7 seconds, good for seventh place in a round that pays six. He suffered a no-time in the second round.

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