Wyoming native wins youth calf roping title
Young Ace Reese is making progress on his goal of winning eight gold buckles.
The Upton, Wyoming cowboy who moved to Texas with his family in 2018, roped his way to a championship in Las Vegas earlier this month.
On Dec. 14, the 12-year-old Aquilla, TX, rodeo athlete was named the champion 12-and-under tie down roper at the Junior World Finals.
Reese, with the help of his equine partner Popcorn, won trophy buckles and over $13,000 in prize money.
Those spotlight moments culminated a year of qualifying events, most recently anchored by Ace’s Dec. 11 performance during Tuff Cooper’s Junior World Finals roping in Vegas, where he was one of six top ropers qualified.
Knowing they were in, tactical decisions had to be made – and Ace never flinched. “I rode Popcorn for everything,” he says. “She stayed with me all the way through, even though it was a lot of runs. I am very proud of her, because she could not have worked better.”
Ace and Popcorn didn’t stutter under the pressure of four intense runs Dec. 14. A 10.86 put him in the top four, then a 13.47 put him in the top three. Continuing excellence produced a 13.50 to put Ace in the top two . . . next he nodded for the final calf and stopped the clock at 9.93 to claim the world championship
Looking back on those moments, Ace recalls, “The world championship shootout came down to Jake Holmes and me. That was exciting, because he is a tough competitor, and we went back and forth at several of the big roping this year. I knew I would have to rope my best to win it.”
He added, “When my calf went to his knees, I was a little worried . . . but I just kept hustling, and he got up so I could make a good flank. I came out on top this time by less than half a second. That was my favorite moment of the week!”
Rodeo is generations deep in Ace Reece. Ranch-reared calf roping fan Una married calf-roping Wyoming cowboy David Seeley and joined him in buying the Double Spear Ranch in 1959, and reared Ace’s grandfather Lenard there. Lenard and Teresa reared Ace’s mom Codi there. They and Una still have homes on the ranch.
Lenard and Teresa Seeley of Osage, Wyoming, drove Una from their Double Spear Ranch to Vegas so they could all attend the opening rounds of Tuff Cooper’s Junior World Finals.
After enjoying Ace’s Dec. 11 performance Una humbly commented, “It was a great event to have witnessed at 91-years-old.
“Las Vegas in December was not like anyplace I have traveled before,” calf roper Ace Reese marvels. “It is a huge gathering of people who love the western lifestyle. Everywhere I went people talked with me about what events I was there for.”
“A lot of people brought their kids to pet my horses. There were constantly opportunities to help people connect with a cowboy and rodeo,” the 12-year-old ranch-reared cowboy relates. “I had to find a way to do that, and stay focused on competing.”