Team roping at Missouri High School Rodeo Finals no easy event

Thursday, June 14, 2012 | 11:28 p.m. CDT; updated 11:34 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 14, 2012
Austin Fuhlage of Fayette dives off his horse to tie up a calf during the during the breakaway roping contest of the 2012 Missouri High School State Rodeo Finals on Thursday at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

COLUMBIA — Throwing a lasso over a moving target while on a moving horse is no easy task.

Just ask Garrett Noe and Dylan Wolfe, who participated in the team roping event at the Missouri High School Rodeo Finals on Thursday night at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

The event involves two riders. A header tries to throw a lasso over the head of a calf, while a heeler tries to throw a lasso over the heels of a calf. Noe happened to need a header after last year's rodeo season and Wolfe happened to need a heeler. They found they worked well together.

"He can catch anything that turns," Wolfe said of Noe.

"He's really good with ropes," Noe said of Wolfe.

Team roping is considerably tougher than just solo roping. There are many more factors that go into the event.

"Most events, its only one person," Wolfe said. "There is more control (in solo events)."

Tough tasks don't intimidate the pair.

For Wolfe, the road to becoming a competitive team roper was difficult. The left-handed teenager out of Billings had to learn how to rope right-handed.

Wolfe had been roping since his early childhood, but his family moved into town and sold most of their roping gear. At age 10, Wolfe found a box of his father's roping equipment and rediscovered the sport.

"I watched a lot of guys who were much better than me at the beginning," Wolfe said.

After a couple of months, Wolfe started to get roping with his right hand down. By the end of a year he was good enough to compete.

Roping with his right hand had its advantages outside of the rodeo as well.

"I was able to switch-hit and throw in baseball," Wolfe said. "But I still can't write with my right hand."

For the 16-year-old Noe, out of Mercer, his passion and dreams of professional roping at big venues after high school propel him. After roping with toy ropes for the first time, Noe was immediately addicted to the sport.

"When I first tried it, I was hooked immediately," Noe said.

Noe's father Mike Noe agreed with that sentiment.

"It's a lot of fun," Mike Noe said. "It gets in your blood, and it's hard to get out."

Thursday's event didn't turn out well for Wolfe and Garrett Noe. The spotted, tan calf they were chasing made a beeline out of the gate, catching the pair's horses completely off guard.

They eventually caught the calf, but it took them more than 20 seconds — a slow time for these experienced ropers and a testament to how difficult the event can be.

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