Roper moseys on home for rodeo |

Roper moseys on home for rodeo

Justin Pearson wouldn’t miss the Penn Valley Rodeo for anything.

The 22 year-old roper has spent the spring criss-crossing the country and competing on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, but this weekend he’s taking time off for his hometown event.

“I’ve known everybody who performs there,” said Pearson, a third-generation roper and Penn Valley native who entered his first Penn Valley Rodeo at the age of 12. “It’s the hometown crowd.”

The rodeo kicked off Friday night and continues today and Sunday at the Penn Valley Rodeo Grounds. Pearson will perform with his father, Russell Pearson, in Sunday’s team roping event.

In team roping, two mounted cowboys-the header and the heeler-enter the ring from opposite sites of the chute, where a steer enters the ring. The header’s job is to rope the steer around the horns, while the heeler ropes the steer’s hind legs. Pearson said that his team’s average time is four seconds.

The job requires good hand and eye coordination and a lot of practice, according to Justin Davis, a roper who will team up with Pearson next weekend at the Marysville rodeo.

“It’s a mental game,” said Davis, adding that preparing for the event requires “getting focused and agressive.”

After the Penn Valley event, Pearson will go back to the professional rodeo circuit. He has his sights set on qualifying as a team roper for the National Finals Rodeo, which takes place in Las Vegas in December and features the top 15 competitors in each event.

“That’s where every cowboy dreams to go,” he said, adding that competition is tough, but he’ll give it his best shot.”If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play with the best.”

The Penn Valley Rodeo, located at the Penn Valley Rodeo Grounds behind the Fire House, starts at 12 p.m. today; Sunday’s events begin at 1 p.m. For more information, visit


To contact Staff Writer Jill Bauerle, e-mail or call 477-4219.

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