For the past 16 years, the Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo in Odessa, Texas, has hosted an invitational roping showcasing ProRodeo's best with match team and calf ropings as well as a pro-am team roping.
Done on the Tuesday before the rodeo, the event has lately come to be called the Super Tuesday Roping.
This year, two West Texas tie-down stalwarts, 2004 World Champion Monty Lewis and Stran Smith, battled it out in the Shawn McMullan Memorial Calf Roping Match. Smith won the event by tying four calves in 43.82 seconds, but the win held some extra meaning.
Smith, from Tell, Texas, and McMullan from Iraan (near Odessa) were best friends and traveling partners as each of their young careers began in the mid-1990s. On their way from Canby, Oregon, to Heppner, in the fall of 1996, a drunk driver crossed the median and struck their rig head on. McMullan, who was driving, was killed instantly and Smith, who was in the nose of the trailer, survived.
"We'd been doing that for 12 years and I've done it every year I wasn't injured," Smith said. "It's always a special deal for me to go down there. If there's any way to pay tribute to him it would be a match roping, he loved that.
"It seems like it was a lifetime ago when that all happened. It's special to come down there and keep his memory alive. For me it's more than just a match roping.
"There are people who come every year and his mom and dad bring a tribute to him, his saddles and buckles and whatnot. He was from there and he won the tie-down roping national championship a couple times roping for Odessa College. It's a neat deal to continue to keep his memory alive."
In fact, there is a junior match calf roping that pits two local high school seniors roping for the chance at a full-ride rodeo scholarship to Odessa College. This year, Cody Burney won by roping four calves in 45.31 seconds.
The team roping match pitted Clay Tryan and reigning World Champion Heeler Walt Woodard against Tee Woolman and Kory Kootnz. After eight steers, Tryan and Woodard turned in a 54.43 total time to edge Woolman and Koontz by 1.56 seconds.
The Open Roping winning team featured 2006 World Champion Header Matt Sherwood and the 2006 Heeling Rookie of the Year Jade Corkill. The team roped six steers in 36.02 seconds and won $6,840 each.