Practice Pen Qualifiers: The Summary and Future
World Series of Team Roping came up with the Practice Pen Qualifiers out of the obvious need to keep something happening in team roping and really the cowboy world during the pandemic. Nobody had a clue what would happen and how it would turn out, but the performance bar was set really low which primed the pump and got a lot of ropers to support it. One time adjustment had to be made on pars. By Memorial weekend over twenty thousand teams competed around the country in regular qualifiers and interest in PPQ fell off sharply. Still the precedent was set and ropers from around the planet began petitioning to keep PPQ as a viable qualification option. You can read about the future plans for the PPQ at the end of this article.
At the beginning of the program the vast majority to teams entering were 10.5 teams and they were beating the PPQ consistently. We kept a running tally of winners and at the start the 10.5 teams were winning 2 to 1, against the combination of 8.5 and 9.5 winners. They were winning about every 7 to 8 entries. This scared everyone at the association and at one point the association got behind by roughly $75,000 in entry fees. The decision was made to go one more weekend before ending it.
However, the teams who had won in the 10.5 division the previous week came back the next week with different partners and entered the 9.5. Those that had won in the 9.5 were back for the 8.5. Just as soon as the ropers around the country started seeing 8.5 and 9.5 winners, those divisions started getting entries and it saved the program. Clearly 8.5 teams don’t catch four steers as often as 10.5 teams, and the combination of all three of these divisions was necessary to hold that balance close to 14 losers per winner, which allowed the program to continue. When the smoke cleared things looked a lot more balanced with 67 winners in the 10.5, 54 in the 9.5 and 36 in the 8.5. Currently a little over 2000 teams have competed with 157 teams qualifying for the Finale ($628,000 in entry fees). Normal qualification ropings “average” 15-20 qualified teams per event based on size, so those 157 teams are equivalent to 9 or10 WSTR qualifiers against the 30 qualifiers that were cancelled from COVID. But these numbers are actually much better than that because all 157 teams are paid and presumed entered at the Finale, as opposed to only a percentage of qualified teams from qualifiers that actually go. Bottom line, the PPQ made up a lot of ground for the two plus COVID months team roping was shut down.
The Future – Everyone at WSTR was impressed at the number of ropers who competed from remote locations, with access to only one or two qualifiers per year. They along with a few international members jumped on the opportunity. The decision was made that PPQ will officially become another way ropers may qualify, but its availability will be limited. PPQ events will be scheduled on weekends when there is not a lot of other events.This will allow ropers who can’t get to an event or who live in an area of restriction the opportunity to get qualified for the Vegas Finale.The next scheduled event will be Jun 12th, 13th, and 14th.Future PPQ events will be posted on the schedule page as well, we plan to schedule at least one PPQ per month.
Classifications and PPQ– We had a few winners jump on Facebook crying foul because we asked them to rope in a higher division in Vegas. Keep in mind that the main reason we have qualifiers is to make sure everyone is in the right place when we rope at $2 million in a division. If we saw a team that was clearly in the wrong division, we would simply ask these winners to be sure to enter Vegas in division higher. Global will follow its own criteria on number adjustments, but there were 16 ropers out of 289 individuals who won, that affected 22 teams out of the 157 qualified teams, about 1.5 percent of ropers which, in our estimation, was minimal. Four of those were already scheduled by Global for an adjustment, two of those were appeal reductions that needed to be un-appeal-granted. There were ropers who joined for the first time in 8 or 10 years and were simply allowed back and started too low. Of the 16, roughly nine teams contained ropers who were in their twenties sporting 4 and 4E handicaps, and obviously were much better than that. Not one of them objected and we had one team that was 35 on 4 in the 8.5 division, including a leg……called us first and volunteered that they probably needed to rope in a higher division.
Best story of the 2000 teams…. young man from SE Texas, was at least a number and a half off. The twenty something was entered the first day with a sixty something in the 10.5 and won his first time out. Each steer was roped on the second/third hop, would dally on short rope, and do the Junior layback over the cantle. Next day he entered the 9.5 and won his first time out, but this time on the second hop where he usually ropes, his horse would go ahead and scotch, but the roper would kick back up three or four jumps and rope two feet, no layback. Identical runs on all four. The staff had a good laugh, one of his buddies commented on the Facebook live video, “Hey dude, why are you kicking up?” We have a pretty good idea why he we he was kicking up. He cried foul on Facebook, but thanks to the Texans that confirmed, yes he has been off the grid and the 10.5 and 11.5 with the same partners is a better fit.
All in all, the PPQ’s goal is to provide another avenue of qualifying ropers for the Finale. As always, we make every effort to ensure that competition is level and are happy the pandemic turned into something positive. It is a tremendous opportunity to allow everyone to participate, no matter where they live!
To help those who attended the WSTR qualifiers October thru March, we have altered the qualification criteria retro-actively. The discount threshold, for this year, will be lowered and the discount window will be extended. Any roper who has won at least $2000 (was $2500) at a qualification event, or who missed their 30-day entry window, will be able to enter with the discount thru the end of June.