ODESSA, Texas – Glen Chape’s voicemail message cheerfully tells you he is out “chasing wild possum and koalas.” Being from rural Australia, this is no doubt sometimes true, but as he demonstrated to the fans in Ector County Coliseum, he’s really much better at chasing down steers.
Chape, of Walgett, New South Wales, came out of nowhere to win the steer wrestling at the Jan. 7-8, 12-15 SandHills Stock Show & Rodeo in what was the seventh rodeo since he bought his PRCA card Sept. 29.
Out of nowhere? Chape had pre-Odessa winnings of $41.48 on his card and total earnings (permit included) of $2,791.63 since he came stateside from Kinross Wolarai school two years ago to study welding at Western Texas College in Snyder.
“It’s a good start to the year … couldn’t start any better,” Chape said in a fine bit of understatement. “I always have high expectations. That helps everything if you have a bit of confidence.”
Rodeo can be a bit like gambling. You pay your entry fee and see each week if you get a return. At his first five rodeos of the 2011 season, Chape paid out $425 and got nothing back. At the Denver qualifying rodeo, he wrote a check for $200 to get that $41.48.
Then Odessa happened. Chape was in a five-way tie for first place in the first round – three of the four others all have Wrangler NFR credits next to their names – and tied for second in round two. His total time of 8.3 seconds on two head won the average by three-tenths of a second over Denard Butler.
Chape’s total earnings of $5,821 suddenly has him fifth in the PRCA World Standings, up there with the big boys like two-time World Champion Luke Branquinho and new standings leader Dana Hanna.
“You take whatever they run you and do the best you can,” Chape said. “The steers in Odessa were the same bunch from Jace Honey we had in Denver qualifying, so we were pretty familiar with them.”
Chape, 23, isn’t sure how Western Texas coach Greg Rhodes knew about him, but he knew the school had a history of recruiting great Australian cowboys, from all-around hand Dave Appleton to saddle bronc rider Sam Spreadborough, and “leaped at the chance” when he was offered a spot on the team.
He says the opportunities for practice are much greater stateside than they are in New South Wales, and since recovering from an injury that hindered his progress his first year at WTC, he feels like he’s ready to have an impact on the world standings.
“It’s started working better for me in the last six months,” Chape said. “I’ve been traveling with Gerald Pasley and riding his horse, Bob. The money from Odessa will certainly help to pay to go to the rodeos on my schedule and maybe keep me out there longer.”
Chape was one of two rookies to make their mark in Odessa, along with tie-down roper Jud Nowotny, who won the first round in a rodeo-best equaling 7.9 seconds and the average with a two-head time of 16.7 seconds.
Parlayed with his win at the Dec. 28-29 Mesquite (Texas) Championship Rodeo, the Odessa payday moved Nowotny into second place in the world standings, just $325 behind leader and reigning World Champion Trevor Brazile.
Three-time World Champion Bareback Rider Will Lowe moved ahead of Joe Gunderson into first place in the PRCA World Standings on the strength of his winning 86-point ride on JK Rodeo’s Valdez.
The other champions at the SandHills Stock Show & Rodeo were team ropers Clay Tryan and Travis Graves (10.4 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Cody Wright (87 points), steer roper Trevor Brazile (43.8 seconds on four head), bull rider Sam Wyatt (88 points) and barrel racers Jana Bean and Ashley Rice (28.12 seconds each on two runs).