Watching the tenth round of the 2006 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was almost as nerve-wracking for PRCA team roper Chris Lawson of Gonzales, Texas, as in 1998, the year he was an actual NFR competitor because he was pretty sure he might become the big $20,000 Pro Fantasy Rodeo Champion for 2006.
Having spent considerable time developing a strategy for spending his Pro Fantasy Rodeo recruiting dollars then each day diligently checking his standings on the Pro Fantasy Rodeo web site, he thought one of his three teams had as good a shot as anyone at winning it all going into the final round. Three of the team players on his team “Lucky 1,”–Cody Ohl in calf roping, Will Lowe in bareback riding and Chad Masters as a team roping header were winning the average at the end of the ninth round. Lawson, then, had high hopes for a big win only to have them plummet when Masters missed the first loop in the 10th round and ended with a 20.9 second run. However, his luck held since Masters and partner Allen Bach ended up winning the average with 88.50 seconds on 10 head, while both Ohl and Lowe also won the average in their respective events. Giving credit to girlfriend Julie Mankin for her barrel racer pick of Kelly Maben who won five of 10 rounds placing sixth in the average, he could not have been happier with the winning team he chose.
A former NIRA team roper, calf roper and steer wrestler, Lawson earned his business degree from the University of Wyoming and served as the NIRA student director. Today he limits his competition to team roping on a part-time basis due to his obligations as a property insurance adjustor and the loving father of Patton, his 6-year old son. Roping with partner Arles Pearce of Washington, TX, Lawson just returned from competing in the National Western Stock Show in Denver and hopes to continue his schedule of attending the bigger rodeos in Texas and nearby areas. His occupation of appraising the damage and making claims adjustments on property harmed or destroyed from such calamities as hurricanes, hail, etc. tends to dictate how much time he can spend rodeoing, yet it remains his passion.
During this year’s NFR while spending time with Mankin who was at a barrel racing futurity in Oklahoma City the night of the tenth round, Lawson said he was excited when he realized he was the big winner by checking on the web site and later receiving the phone call.
“I knew I’d won from the web site results, but I wasn’t about to spend the money until I actually got the check, since the web site warns that results are unofficial until everything has been thoroughly checked.” When asked how he will spend his new-won fortune, Lawson laughed and said the monthly bills and trying to take care of his little boy will take up quite a bit of it, and otherwise he does not’t have any particular plans.
Recalling how a friend’s wife had spoken of buying a Pro Fantasy Rodeo team a few years ago, Lawson said he had talked about getting involved, but that this was the first year he actually made a point of finding the web site, picking a team, and putting up the required money.
“Julie and I sat down and wrote out several teams,” said Lawson, “and I have to give her credit for picking Maben in the barrel racing on my winning team.” For his strategy, Lawson said he decided to spend more of the $550,000 recruiting dollars on events that seemed to be more predictable, like the bareback riding and the calf roping. “I tried to spend less on the steer wrestling, and particularly the bull riding because you never know how many guys are going to be able to get on 10 head and not be injured along the way.” Apparently his strategy was a winning one since he’s got the $20,000 check (plus another $500 for placing in a round) to prove it.
Lawson concluded, “It’s a great concept and it gets you much more involved in the finals and makes them so much more exciting. Rather than watching one or two events, like most of us do, you get engrossed in each event, who’s winning the average and what your chances are at being a winner, too,” he said. “I think once everyone understands how it works and how much fun and excitement it creates, it will become even bigger than it is today.”
So for Lawson, an NFR qualifier himself who knows the thrill of going to the “super bowl” of rodeo, it was a great way to compete for a different type of championship, and he recommends it for any and all.