Blackfeet ropers pull huge upset during National Western Stock Show Rodeo

For four days, the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) & Rodeo had two very interested spectators in Montana team ropers Ty St. Goddard and Ryle Whitford. Were front and center again during the Jan. 22 final round as they watched 11 other teams try to set the average mark to beat before they took their turn in the arena.

When they finally got the chance to rope, they turned in a 6.5-second run that placed fourth in the round and easily carried them to the average victory over Kelsey Parchman and Justin Copp. After tying for third in the first round and placing second in the second round, St. Goddard and Whitford pocketed $10,336 each for their eventful trip to Denver.

“We were here watching every day,” St. Goddard said. “It was pretty tough watching everyone take a run at our time.”

That two-head average time of 9.7 seconds held up and left St. Goddard and Whitford sitting in front of a handful of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers heading into the final round.

“This is just amazing,” said heeler Whitford. “I came here last year and my partner (a different header) missed them both. Ty’s never been here before. So for us to win it all is just amazing.”

The young cowboys – St. Goddard, 22 and Whitford turns 21 next Sunday – were raised on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, MT, and easily count the Denver victory as the biggest of their short careers. They had hoped to hit the rodeo circuit hard in 2012, and now there’s no doubt they’re capable of competing.

A week after both cowboys (roping with different partners) failed to record a single time at the Ram Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo (RMCFR) in Great Falls, MT, they found themselves on one of ProRodeo’s biggest stages. As part of the final-round opening ceremonies, the two were introduced to the crowd – along with other average leaders going into the round – in between bursts of pyrotechnics. A few minutes later, they were backing into the box for their final-round steer.

“We roped during slack on Wednesday and there weren’t many people here,” Whitford said. “With all the people today (the performance was sold out), my horse was a little nervous as we backed in there for our run.”

Whitford admitted the horse might not have been the only one who was nervous. But the two quelled any nerves and turned in a run that placed them 1.4 seconds ahead of the field – which also included fellow tribe member Dustin Bird. Whitford roped with Bird at the RMCFR last week and the winning team traveled with Bird from Montana to Denver, CO.

Their trip took an unexpected turn when the truck broke down in Wyoming on Tuesday. Fortunately, they weren’t scheduled to rope until the Wednesday, making it to Denver in plenty of time.