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Alma teen-ager sets his sights on the professional rodeo cowboy circuit

Frank J. Buchman

By A Contributor

“I rope every day. Sometimes I’ll rope and tie 100 calves a day.”

That sounds like lots of practice and hard work, but it has paid off for rodeo champion Cooper Martin of Alma. He can rope and tie a calf with the best.

“My goal was to be the champion calf roper in the United Rodeo Association last year, and I made it,” said Martin, who has won a number of youth rodeo association titles.

That’s a major accomplishment for any rodeo participant, but even more impressive, considering that Martin is only 15-years-old. His competitors are mostly adults, some two or three times his age.

Adding to that feat, Martin was also champion of the URA breakaway roping last year, competing against youth and women of all ages.

Martin didn’t have the URA Finals he’d anticipated last fall in Topeka, but when year-end titles were bestowed he had a lion’s share of the limelight. Going into the finals ranked first in calf roping and breakaway roping, Martin collected two finals checks, a $204 payback as fourth in the calf roping average, after receiving $264, for third in the third go-round of that event.

He collected the year-end calf roping championship for winning $4,951, making him the youngest cowboy ever to win that URA event. His year-end title in breakaway roping brought another $8,717.

Martin, as a freshman, tied for third in the calf roping event of the Kansas High School Rodeo Association last year and competed in the National Finals High School Rodeo finals at Gillette, Wyo.

After the fall run of the 2012-2013 season in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, Martin is leading the calf roping event and is in a tie for third in team roping, with Casey Adams of Junction City as his partner.

A straight “A” student in middle school, Martin chose virtual school for his high school education.

“This just works out so much better for me, so I can get to all of the rodeos and jackpots when they are, and not miss school,” he explained. He said he studies “when there isn’t a roping practice and competition conflict.”

Martin credited his dad and mom, Chris and Candi Martin, and his sister Caxton, also a highly successful youth rodeo contestant.

“None of this would be possible without my parents’ support, coaching, advice, supplying the calves, and running the chute,” Martin said.

His main rodeo calf roping horse now is a nine-year-old sorrel gelding called Taxi. “I got him about a year ago from Monty Dyer, and he’s really worked out quite well; very consistent and dependable,” Martin said.

His rodeo work is self-sustaining. “We haven’t paid Cooper’s entry fees since he was probably eight-years-old, because he’s always won enough to keep going,” his mom said. “We help other ways, but it sure isn’t financially.”

With the first spring rodeo of the Kansas High School Rodeo Association, at Kingman, April 6-7, Martin plans to attend all of those rodeos to maintain his placing at the top of the calf roping standings, and remain in the top four of team roping, to qualify for two events at this summer’s National High School Rodeo Finals.

The world record for roping and tying a calf is 5.7 seconds. Martin has already come pretty close to that when he won the calf roping at Maryville, Mo., with a time of 6.9 seconds. His fastest time in team roping is 4.9 seconds, compared to the fastest time ever of 3.5 seconds. A second isn’t very long.

While most of his high school rodeo competitors are eyeing college rodeo teams to apply for scholarships, Martin said, “Advanced education … is not for me now.” He plans on rodeoing full-time after high school.

His goal is to rope on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, the major league of rodeo. “I intend to make the National Finals Rodeo. That’s my goal,” Martin promised.

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