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Best of Memphis Super Qualifier


Article & photos by Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

With six events cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic this year, and others relocated, ropers were glad to get back in action at the Show Place Arena in Cordova, Tenn. on August 7-9, 2020 with Jx2 Productions’ USTRC/WSTR team roping event. Jx2 owner John Johnson said this year has been tough on horse events and has taken a toll on the horse industry. “But we are blessed to be able to do this,” he said, looking at the bright side. “Jamie [White] has been helpful in providing masks and we provided masks to folks, too. The upgrades to the facility are tremendous! We’ve been coming here for 21 years, and it’s just gotten better.”

A special roper was competing at this event: the first and only #8 lady heeler, Whitney DeSalvo. She has been traveling around the country, mostly to All-Girl roping events and earned this honor in mid-July. She’s roped at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma and at Glen Rose, Texas. At this event, the Ladies Only WCRA (World Champions Rodeo Alliance) took place first thing on Saturday morning.

DeSalvo says she has been roping practically her whole life. Her mom is a roper, so it’s a family tradition, you might way.  DeSalvo hails from Monticello, Arkansas and recently graduated from the Univ. of Arkansas – Monticello with a degree in health and physical education. While at U of A- Monticello, she competed on the rodeo team for two years and went to the College National Finals Rodeo both years. In fact, in 2019, she was the lone female to team rope in the short round at the CNFR.

While she was in school, she didn’t have as much time to team rope as she’d like. Now that she’s out of school, she has been traveling to team roping events nearly every weekend. “I had a break and roped at home, got some horses ready.  Now I’m glad to be back roping [in competition],” she said. At home, she works for the Hawkins family where she mentors their children and grandchildren in roping. She has studied under PRCA champion heeler Paul Eaves, too.

DeSalvo has been steadily at the top of the ranks. At Guthrie, Okla. on June 24 at the Charlie 1 Horse All-Girl Challenge Team Roping, DeSalvo showed why she’s the world’s best female heeler. DeSalvo, 25, took the top three placings with three different partners to win $28,875 in cash plus a truckload of prizes. The three-time WPRA world champion won the roping with (header) Hope Thompson of Abilene, Texas, who raked in $20,750. DeSalvo caught 11 of 11 steers.

Wrangler BFI Week kicked off in Guthrie on June 20 and was anchored by the 43rd Bob Feist Invitational (BFI) on June 21, 2020. Annually the richest all-female team roping in the country, this year’s Charlie 1 Horse Challenge fielded a record 184 teams.

She was rated 7.5 at the Guthrie event, but as of July 13, DeSalvo became the first female team roper ever classified as a No. 8 (in a sport where #10 is the highest rank). It’s a fitting rank because the defending and three-time WPRA world champion heeler dominates every jackpot she enters. She’s also leading the standings of the Women’s Rodeo World Championship. This year the Women’s Rodeo World Championship takes place at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, NV on November 3-7.

In addition to Hope Thompson, DeSalvo also ropes with partners Lari Dee Guy and Beverly Robbins. On Saturday at the Memphis event, she roped with Beverly Robbins. Usually DeSalvo rides her mare Becky, a 9-year-old Quarter Horse, on whom she has been roping for four years. But she was home healing from an abscess this weekend and DeSalvo was riding a friend’s horse, Tiny, a 13-year-old Quarter Horse.

I asked DeSalvo how she got into heeling and she said, “It’s just what I started out doing.” So what are the key elements to success at heeling? “It’s all in horse position and timing – especially timing. When the calf’s hops go up, the legs come back and that’s when to rope the back legs.” She certainly makes it sound easy! But it’s more complicated than that, and she even shared some of her techniques with the Team Roping Journal in March of this year. In addition to traveling to team roping competitions, DeSalvo also gives roping clinics around the mid-south. And, as might be expected, she and header Maddie Webb won the Ladies Only division on Saturday.

Jx2 Team Roping will be in Harriman, TN on Nov. 14-15 for the NTRL Northeast Regional and back in Memphis on Nov. 20-22, 2020.

Winners at the Jx2 Best of Memphis Super Q:
Gold Buckle Beer Open Winners: Marcus Theriot / Chase Graves
#16.5 USTRC Winners: Seth Driggers / Chris Young
#14.5 WSTR Winners: Morgan Holmes (DSC_0309)/ Chris Young
#14.5 USTRC Winners: Koby Sanchez / Marcus Theriot
#13.5 WSTR Winners: Mike Woolven / Craig Stevens
#13.5 USTRC Winners: Mason Johnson / Corey Reid
#12.5 WSTR Winners: Michael Patterson / Marcus Theriot
#12.5 USTRC Winners: Chris Byrd / Marcus Theriot
#11.5 Legends Winners: Brother Campbell / Jay Holmes
Ladies Only Winners: Maddie Webb / Whitney DeSalvo
#11.5 WSTR Winners: Steve Hinson / Luke Hinson
#11.5 USTRC Winners: Logan White / Will McCraw
#10.5 WSTR Winners: Heath Mosley / Ty Miller
#10.5 USTRC Winners: Jerald Bierman / Chase Lingo
#9.5 Legends Winners: Lee Burkett / Bruce Barnett
#9.5 WSTR Winners: Brandon Tomlinson / Casey Martin
#8.5 WSTR Winners: Average - Lucas Koehn / Chase Lingo
2nd- Hadlee Thone / Lucas Koehn
3rd- Hadlee Thone / Mike Chandler
#8.5 WSTR Winners: Johnny Hooper / Randall Gillespie
#8.5 USTRC Winners: Average - Jefferson Mosley / Gus Mosley
#7 USTRC Winners: Average - Sam Standridge / Bentley Davis

DeSalvo Wins $29K As Charlie 1 Horse Champ. 2020. BFI Week. June 25.
Mankin, Julie. 2020. “Global Handicaps Assigns No. 8 to First Female Roper. 2020.” Team Roping Journal. July 16.
Link, Jenna. 2020. “Whitney DeSalvo Makes Team Roping History.” Cowgirl Magazine. July 23.
Shaffer, Chelsea. 2020. “Hand Position Through Your Swing with Whitney DeSalvo.” Team Roping Journal. March 5.

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