Cole Echols: Is he a bull-riding team roper or a team-roping bull rider? | TSLN.com
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Cole Echols: Is he a bull-riding team roper or a team-roping bull rider?

It would be tempting to call Cole Echols a throwback, if it were not for the fact that there is so little history of anybody treading along Echols’ particular rodeo career path. There just isn’t much “back” to throw to here.

Eight-time World Champion Bull Rider Don Gay once introduced Echols as “a team roper turned bull rider,” making the point that such a move ran counter to his understanding, that usually bull riders close out their rodeo lives as team ropers.

But here is Echols, 23, competing – and winning PRCA titles – in both events, at opposite ends of the arena.



Echols has claimed two team roping titles this season with header Dakota Shipp, at Lake Charles, LA, and Kissimmee, FL, and he won the bull riding at the March 3-5 Matagorda County Fair & Rodeo in Bay City, TX, with a 91-point marking.

“Guys were making fun of me (until then) because I was winning in team roping and I was supposed to be a bull rider,” Echols said.



John Davis is the only man ever to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in those two events, and his only team roping appearance (in 1987) came when he was 37, three years after his bull riding career came to an end.

“I’d like to do it (qualify in both events) at the same time,” Echols said. “That would be pretty cool. But first things first. I’d just like to get into the Wrangler NFR in one of my events.”

He came close in 2007 (“the only healthy year I’ve had”) when he finished 20th in the bull riding world standings as a 20-year-old in his second professional season. He won the Tour Round of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo with a 92-point ride on Cervi & Guidry’s XS Energy to finish fourth in the average, won the rodeo in Hugo, OK, and qualified for the Tour Championships in Dallas.

Since then, injuries have plagued his career progress. He has broken a leg three times in the last five years and has rods in both legs. The most recent mishap occurred at Claremore, OK, last spring, shortly after he had won the Redding (CA) Rodeo with a career-best equaling 92-point ride, and it sidelined him for six months.

It was during that injury-forced time off that Echols revisited the idea of augmenting his bull riding competition with some team roping.

“I’d always wanted to team rope, too, but I never could line up a header good enough so we would have a chance to win,” Echols said. “I had known (Shipp) a long time, since we were kids roping in USTRC events. I knew just how good he was, so I called to ask if he was interested in roping with me.

“It’s gone great. From now on, we’ll probably enter everything we can in between my bull riding commitments. I don’t see why we can’t go to the big pen, qualify for the Wrangler NFR. But bull riding is my No. 1 priority. It still comes first.”

Of course, it didn’t come first chronologically.

Echols actually started out, at 11 years old, as a roper. During high school, he competed in team roping and saddle bronc riding. He didn’t start riding bulls until he was 18, during the second half of his senior year.

At 15, he paired with Randy Hearnsberger to win the USTRC National Finals in Oklahoma City, and he won there again in 2008, ironically with ProRodeo Hall of Fame bull rider Tuff Hedeman (a boyhood idol of Echols’), to split $90,000.

Despite having no practice time together, Shipp and Echols have won those two titles in their first five rodeos.

“I’m used to competing (at both ends of the arena),” Echols said. “I did it all through high school. It’s not too tough. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle. You know what to do and you just go do it.”

It would be tempting to call Cole Echols a throwback, if it were not for the fact that there is so little history of anybody treading along Echols’ particular rodeo career path. There just isn’t much “back” to throw to here.

Eight-time World Champion Bull Rider Don Gay once introduced Echols as “a team roper turned bull rider,” making the point that such a move ran counter to his understanding, that usually bull riders close out their rodeo lives as team ropers.

But here is Echols, 23, competing – and winning PRCA titles – in both events, at opposite ends of the arena.

Echols has claimed two team roping titles this season with header Dakota Shipp, at Lake Charles, LA, and Kissimmee, FL, and he won the bull riding at the March 3-5 Matagorda County Fair & Rodeo in Bay City, TX, with a 91-point marking.

“Guys were making fun of me (until then) because I was winning in team roping and I was supposed to be a bull rider,” Echols said.

John Davis is the only man ever to compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in those two events, and his only team roping appearance (in 1987) came when he was 37, three years after his bull riding career came to an end.

“I’d like to do it (qualify in both events) at the same time,” Echols said. “That would be pretty cool. But first things first. I’d just like to get into the Wrangler NFR in one of my events.”

He came close in 2007 (“the only healthy year I’ve had”) when he finished 20th in the bull riding world standings as a 20-year-old in his second professional season. He won the Tour Round of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo with a 92-point ride on Cervi & Guidry’s XS Energy to finish fourth in the average, won the rodeo in Hugo, OK, and qualified for the Tour Championships in Dallas.

Since then, injuries have plagued his career progress. He has broken a leg three times in the last five years and has rods in both legs. The most recent mishap occurred at Claremore, OK, last spring, shortly after he had won the Redding (CA) Rodeo with a career-best equaling 92-point ride, and it sidelined him for six months.

It was during that injury-forced time off that Echols revisited the idea of augmenting his bull riding competition with some team roping.

“I’d always wanted to team rope, too, but I never could line up a header good enough so we would have a chance to win,” Echols said. “I had known (Shipp) a long time, since we were kids roping in USTRC events. I knew just how good he was, so I called to ask if he was interested in roping with me.

“It’s gone great. From now on, we’ll probably enter everything we can in between my bull riding commitments. I don’t see why we can’t go to the big pen, qualify for the Wrangler NFR. But bull riding is my No. 1 priority. It still comes first.”

Of course, it didn’t come first chronologically.

Echols actually started out, at 11 years old, as a roper. During high school, he competed in team roping and saddle bronc riding. He didn’t start riding bulls until he was 18, during the second half of his senior year.

At 15, he paired with Randy Hearnsberger to win the USTRC National Finals in Oklahoma City, and he won there again in 2008, ironically with ProRodeo Hall of Fame bull rider Tuff Hedeman (a boyhood idol of Echols’), to split $90,000.

Despite having no practice time together, Shipp and Echols have won those two titles in their first five rodeos.

“I’m used to competing (at both ends of the arena),” Echols said. “I did it all through high school. It’s not too tough. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle. You know what to do and you just go do it.”


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