OKLAHOMA CITY – A local roper was a big winner Saturday during the Cinch United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) National Finals of Team Roping in Oklahoma City.

Travis Groves of Jay, Okla., took advantage of the 297 team field in the $60,050 #15 Preliminary, capturing the top spot with partner Zachary Tait Small of Fairfield, roping four head in a scorching time of 29.59 to win team earnings of $14,800 and a custom Martin saddle.

Much like in the sport of golf, ropers are handicapped or receive a classification rating based on their skill level and competitive ability. Ropers can be classified from a #1 to a #10, depending on their roping position and ability. The added total of both roping partners handicaps determines their division eligibility. For example, if the division is a #11, the total rating for both ropers cannot equal more than 11, with some divisions requiring a handicap floor.

Team roping is a timed event that requires a team effort. A team is made up of a header and a heeler. The header’s job is to catch the steer around the horns, and then set it up by turning it across the arena. The heeler then rides in and ropes the steer around both hind legs. The clock is stopped when the steer is secured between both ropers and their horses are facing each other.

Offering more than $4.2 million in prize money and over $625,000 in prizes, the Cinch USTRC National Finals of Team Roping is hosting more than 6,700 teams from 48 states, Canada, Mexico, Australia and South America. It completes its run October 31.