Winning big

By: 
KateLynn Slaamot

Photo courtesy of Bull Stock Media, LLC

Ace Reese’s victory in the Junior World Finals rodeo in Las Vegas was a prestigious win. He has been involved in tie down roping for several years, and his love for the sport continues to grow each day. 

KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Correspondent

 

Ace Reese, former Newcastle resident and son of Cary and Codi Reese, recently won the Junior World Finals in the 12 and under tie-down roping in Las Vegas. 

The rodeo is a prestigious win in the sport, according to Codi. The event, which took place Dec. 5-14, welcomed competitors from all across the nation. In the tie-down roping event, 31 qualifiers competed in a preliminary round before heading to the shoot-out round. From there, the elimination-style competition progressed until one person remained. Ace was ecstatic to achieve the victory and earned a belt buckle to remember the occasion. 

“I was very proud of myself,” Ace said. 

Codi expressed pride in her son for his victory and said that the competition at the Junior World Finals is stiff. 

Cary said he was in tears as he watched his son’s victory, and he’s happy that all of Ace’s hard work paid off. 

Ace has been involved in tie-down roping and has entered rodeos for several years, Codi said. Ace was 6 when he entered his first rodeo, but his interest began even sooner than that. Codi said that there never was a time when Ace wasn’t infatuated with animals and the sport. 

“From the time he could walk, he was riding horses,” Codi said. 

Both Cary and Codi said that they were shocked to see how fast Ace progressed in his love and skill in the sport. While both parents were involved in rodeo and hoped their kids would be, they said that they didn’t want to pressure their kids into it. However, Ace’s interest grew rapidly, and he has pursued the sport while being supported by his parents. 

“There’s never been a day when he wasn’t willing to put in the effort,” Codi said. His dedication to the sport is extraordinary, Codi said, and he spends all the necessary time to take care of his horse and exercise it, keep himself healthy and practice day in and day out. 

Cary said that Ace handles and manages his time well; he gets his home school work done and makes time to practice. Cary said that one of his favorite things is the time he spends with Ace and Codi in the practice pen, talking, practicing and preparing. 

“My favorite thing about rodeo is the relationship between me and my horses,” Ace said. Even though there have been ups and downs, Ace said, he wouldn’t trade his rodeoing for anything. Ace said that a lot of hard work has gotten him to where he’s at. 

“I credit hard work and resiliency, even when things aren’t going that well,” he said. 

However, Ace has also received support from many people, he said. Among those he thanks for their support are mom and dad and his grandparents, Rick and Colleen Popham and Lenard and Teresa Seeley. He also said that he appreciated the support of Shorty Engessor, who put on some practice roping events for him when he was younger, and of Don Ed Eddleman, who supplies practice calves, among others. Several members of his family went to Las Vegas to watch him compete, including his parents, his brother Denton, Colleen Popham and others. 

Through the years of Ace’s involvement, Cary and Codi said they have seen an immense benefit. For one, it’s enjoyable for Ace to meet like-minded people from across the nation, they said, and they’ve watched Ace grow in responsibility, independence and maturity. Popham said that she is proud of her grandson’s “persistence” and devotion. She also thinks rodeo is a good way for Ace to stay active and fit doing something he loves. 

Ace said that rodeo has taught him “resiliency,” to keep working hard and get through the hard times. It’s important to him to have a good time and perform well, he said. 

One of Ace’s favorite memories is when he won his first tie-down roping buckle in Rapid City at age 9. That taste of victory has continued to propel him on his journey, he said, and he aims to reach his goal of getting eight gold buckles in the event. He also hopes to qualify to go back to Las Vegas again this year. 

“There’s a fire inside of him I hope he gets to continue to pursue,” Codi said. “I just hope that he has continued strength and desire to pursue them (goals.)” 

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