Smith & Purcella Switch Ends to Win Priefert #14 WSTR Finale XIII
Former PRCA World Champion and 14-time NFR qualifier Steve Purcella, Hereford, Texas, spent most of his rodeo career turning steers while Arizona’s Chad Smith considers himself a heeler first, but the cowboys switched ends to win $178,000 in the Priefert #14 World Series of Team Roping Finale.
"Chad did a good job of sticking it on the horns and making it easy for me," Purcella said. "I told him down the arena that I've been on both ends of it. There's a lot more to heading. I don't care what everybody says. The heeler gets all the glory but the header is the one that makes it all happen, I promise. I've been there and done it. It's a team event, not keep away."
Smith and Purcella came from ninth call to finish first roping four head in 30.11 seconds. When the announcer boomed, “That puts you first in the average,” they never imagined it would hold.
"Troy (Shelley) had us stand there in the back," Purcella explained. "I told him, 'We aren't going to be here but only for a minute. I was really thinking we had a chance to win fourth, maybe fifth, when we roped. It just was just our day I guess."
"I wasn't really trying to watch," Smith said. "I was just trying to soak it all it. Teams kept going out and Steve had more of a serious look on his face, which is hard to imagine. I didn't think it would ever happen in a #14 roping."
Smith was on a 17-year-old gelding, Rambler, that has only had about 400 steers roped on him in an arena despite the many he’s roped out in the pasture.
"That horse is pretty special to me," Smith said with excitement. "He's just a cowboy horse. He's never been off of the ranch. I started roping on him and hauled him to his first World Series within one month of roping on him. A good buddy of mine that helps us out a little bit took him and has actually been rodeoing on him a little bit. Brock Hanson rode him for a little while, too. Then when Steve and I got hooked up I called and said I need to steal my head horse back because I need all the help I can get. To come here and be able to do that on that horse in such a short amount of time is pretty amazing."
Smith runs a ranch in northern Arizona where they have raised horses for as long as he can remember—recalling that about 40 of the first AQHA horses ever registered came from that ranch.
Purcella was on a bay gelding he calls Cadillac.
"He came off of the Harrison ranch down there by Houston (Texas)," Purcella said. "I bought him initially to head on then I got to thinking that he really wasn't big enough, so I ended up selling him to my friend Mark Adams a few years ago. Mark turned steers on him and rode him for a year or two and wasn't really getting along with him so he traded with Johnny Trotter who also had a horse that he didn't really get along with. I guess he's really not mine. He belongs to Johnny now but he's never been on him.”
For Purcella, the win is a bigger payday than he ever saw in ProRodeo.
"It was around '96, I'm not sure we won $100,000 the entire year," Purcella said. “Now we win $89,000 in one day—that's pretty coo. They've done a great job over here for our sport.”
“It’s amazing, we’ve never entered a roping we didn’t win,” laughed Smith, adding, “this is actually the first time we’ve ever roped together.”
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