It is a do or die chance that is over in seconds. Team roping at the Tucson Rodeo draws contestants from all over the country.
Often, this sport has passed from father to son.
“He rodeoed professionally his whole life so [team roping] is just something I grew up doing,” said contestant Brett Ellerman.
“It’s been in my family for 30 years, everybody in my family has done it,” said Cory Petska.
In team roping competitions pairs try to lasso a steer as fast as possible. The header ropes the steer's head and pulls it to the left while his teammate, the heeler, tries to lasso the animal's hind legs. Only teams with the best times advance.
“A lot of practice and a good horse make a big difference,” said Ellerman.
Petska and his teammate Erich Rogers are PRCA World Champions after they won the title in Las Vegas last year. Rogers is from Round Rock, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. Petska lives in Marana.
“The hometown rodeos are the best,” he said.
This isn’t Ellerman’s first rodeo, but it is his first time competing in Tucson. Ellerman lives and trains in Fort Lupton, Colorado, north of Denver.
“It’s 10 below at my house right now so this is great,” he said.
Tuesday's competition determines who moves on in the rodeo, which continues Thursday.