Rope record sends Smith to final

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:45 PM ET

Being last to hit the infield for the tie-down roping, Stran Smith knew exactly the time he had to shoot for.

Anything south of seven seconds was the goal.

With a flair for the dramatic, the roper from Childress, Texas, did one better.

Smith, tied the Calgary Stampede arena record with a 6.5-second run on Wildcard Saturday to claim one of the two spots available for today's Showdown Sunday.

Scott Kormos of Teague, Texas, was 7.0 yesterday and also advanced.

The big prize Smith's gunning for is the $100,000 up for grabs in today's short-go, but putting his name in history is an enjoyable bonus along the way.

"You bet," Smith said. "That's one of those little things we don't really do a lot of talking about amongst ourselves, but you've always got it in the back of your mind -- 'I had the arena record in Calgary for a while.' "

It's the second time this week a cowboy has roped his calf in record time. On Wednesday, Trevor Brazile roped a 6.5-second time, which tied the mark set by Marty Jones in 1993.

Smith has been to the Sunday action in Calgary a few times before but has never won the big prize.

"I've been right there at it," he said. "You just treat it like any other rodeo. Sure, there's $100,000 to win, but we compete and that's what we do for a living. How many zeroes are at the end of the cheque, that doesn't matter that much to us. This is what I do, and I won't let it affect me, really."

Smith actually had a slow week leading into yesterday's action, at least by his standards. But now that his horse, Destiny, is hitting top gear, he believes great things are on the horizon.

Destiny has only been running a few weeks now, after a layoff following the National Finals Rodeo in November.

"She's just now hitting stride," Smith said. "So I'm excited about (today) and the rest of the year."

As for Kormos, yesterday was just the continuation of a strong week.

Kormos had a solid four days in Pool A but finished on the outside of the top four, so he had to compete in the wildcard action.

He was ninth of the 12 riders to go, and he was well aware what he had to do.

"I thought to myself, 'Stran is last and is a world champion and there's a reason he's a world champion, because he's really good,' so I told myself I needed to get ahead of the times," Kormos said. "You've got to go at it every time like it's the last calf you're gonna run."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA\


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