Of all the titles to be won in the sport of ProRodeo, the Resistol Rookie of the Year may just be the toughest. Cowboys and cowgirls only get one chance to win the award, which is given to the highest-money winner during their first season as a pro.
Historically, winning the Rookie title is a good indicator of future success, and many past winners have gone on to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and win world championships. However, a select few—only eight in ProRodeo history—have won world championships as a rookie. Three of those were tie-down ropers: Roy Cooper in 1976, Joe Beaver in 1985 and Haven Meged in 2019.
As the spring run cranks up in California, and the second annual Cowboy Channel Rookie Roundup presented by Resistol kicks off April 28 at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, the top tie-down rookies are locked in a ferocious battle to wear the crown in 2023.
Texans Cash Enderli and Joel Harris are the top contenders, with Chet Weitz, Brayden Roe and Dylan Hancock lurking not far behind.
Resistol Rookie of the Year Contender: Cash Enderli
Enderli holds the upper hand going into the final week of April with $25,269 won, but Harris already made up some ground thanks to placing in the second round at the Clovis Rodeo on April 26, advancing to the progressive round at the major stop on the NFR Playoff Series. Harris now has just about $23,000 won.
Not surprisingly, both cowboys give credit to their dads for their success with a rope.
“I got into it through my dad,” Enderli, 22, said. “I grew up around horses, doing playdays and stuff. Then I got into showing livestock, pigs and heifers, and played baseball—but I always rode since I can remember.”
Enderli initially competed in speed events like barrels and poles but once he aged out of those classes, he picked up a rope, beginning at about age 9.
Enderli’s father Stacey was a shipworker who worked long hours but never hesitated to load up the horses and take his son to junior rodeos on the weekends. Family legend even has it that the elder Enderli predicted his son’s rodeo success at his birth.
“The story around my family is that, when I was born, Dad said, ‘this one’s going to rodeo,’” Enderli laughed. “I don’t know if it’s true or not but that’s the story.
“He really wanted it for me and put me into the right hands to learn,” Enderli continued. Former NFR qualifier Mike Arnold sold Enderli his first tie down horse and became his mentor. “That’s who I went and roped with the most. I live about an hour and a half away from Mike. I was homeschooled from my sophomore to senior year in high school and I went down there and rode with him every Wednesday. We’d ride seven to 10 horses a day.”
Resistol Rookie of the Year Contender: Joel Harris
Harris hails from calf roping’s mecca, San Angelo, and was born into a family of ropers.
“My dad started us when we were 3 and 4 years old,” Harris, 20, said. (Interestingly, he is named after his grandpa and for the sake of avoiding confusion is called Joel Braden or Braden by his closest family and friends.) “He made it happen for us.”
Harris’ older brother Ty was the 2018 Resistol Rookie of the Year and has competed in Vegas every year since 2019.
“It’s really everything,” Harris said of having his brother to show him the ropes of ProRodeo. “It’s so hard out here—people don’t realize there are so many aspects, so much more than the parts of roping a calf.
“There’s getting entered, having the right horses, the rigs, having people on the road who can help you, knowing people to help you get traded. I really can’t quantify what it means to have his help.”
Ty has come through not only with knowledge but also horsepower, lending his little brother horses Andy and Sally for the road.
“They’re both awesome horses. People have won a lot on them in the PRCA,” Harris said. “It’s good to have experienced horses with how many other variables there are out here.”
Enderli relies upon Red, a red roan mare that came from JD Durso
They didn’t start off on the best foot.
“He called me and was selling three horses,” Enderli explained. “She was the only one I liked, but after 30 days, I didn’t really like her.”
Durso and Enderli made a deal: Enderli would keep hauling her, finish her out and help Durso sell her.
“After six months, I decided just to buy her myself,” he said. “I bought her in September of 2019 and by January she became my number one horse. Ninety percent of the calves I’ve run this year were on her.”
The Rodeo Road
Enderli’s biggest checks this season came from the Roping Futurities of America event in Abilene in February along with Denver, Odessa and Lafayette. In fact, he placed at his first seven rodeos of 2023. But his path to the rookie lead actually began with a decision last summer.
“Last year I was on my permit. I just had one horse and wasn’t really ready to leave home and go rodeoing,” he said. “But my buddy I go to school with in Weatherford told me I could stay with him and hit the circuit rodeos around his house and learn how to rope at that level, step my game up mentally.”
Enderli’s buddy is Zaine Mikita of Byers, Colorado, and the idea of getting out of the Texas heat and humidity was very appealing. The two had a hugely successful summer and both qualified to the RAM Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo in Loveland in October.
“We had like $180 between us [in the standings] and it came down to the last calf,” Enderli said. “Basically, whoever had the best third go-round was going to win the average and the year-end.”
Enderli ended up third in that round to win the finals and year-end titles, punching his ticket for the NFR Open powered by RAM held in conjunction with the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs in July 2023.
“When I won the circuit finals and made the NFR Open, I thought, ‘shoot, I’ve got a foot in the door, I might as well get my card now,’” he said. Mikita finished second and will also compete in Colorado Springs. “The whole rig is going!”
The huge purse at the NFR Open could provide a mid-summer payday to boost Enderli toward that rookie title, plus, he planned to be rodeoing in the cool Rockies again this year anyway.
Enderli has one more year of school, where he is working on a degree in business leadership, and qualified to the College Finals last summer.
“Mom said I had to work or go to school and I didn’t want to work!” he joked.
Since he’s still in school, Enderli is staying close to home until summer and will compete at the Rookie Roundup event in Fort Worth.
For Harris, the call of California was strong and he choose not to enter the rookie event since it doesn’t count toward world standings and a possible NFR qualification.
“I am 100 percent all out,” Harris said. “I think the main goal for anyone out here going full-time is the NFR. Everyone going all year believes they have a chance to make it. A lot of guys have the ability, it’s just a matter of getting it done.”
Harris would love to add to the family’s rookie legacy, but notes it’s a secondary goal.
“The rookie deal is a cool deal but if you make the Finals, most years that takes care of the rookie deal.”
Harris actually took a break from roping to attend seminary school for a couple years before returning to make his rookie run. When he’s not busy roping, Harris co-hosts a podcast with his cousin Cole called The Kingdom Vision, which has about 25,000 followers on Instagram.
“We talk about things that Cole and I see daily, how God works in our own lives,” he explained. Cole occasionally joins Harris on the road to serve as videographer for their social media as well.
Thus far in 2023, Harris has won Newberry, Florida, and picked up good checks in Lubbock and Brawley. He also made the finals at both San Antonio and San Angelo.
“Roping in the short-go at San Angelo with the hometown crowd,” he said of his highlights to date. “Even though it didn’t go the best, I could hear the fans so much. And San Antonio was a blast.
“I’m excited for Cheyenne. Big ones like Reno and Salinas,” he continued. “Those are the ones you grow up roping the dummy and thinking about.”
Enderli also looks forward to a busy summer.
“We’ll go to six states I’ve never been in. I’m looking forward to seeing country I’ve never seen. It’ll be fun; I’m going with a good buddy . . . hopefully, we’ll still be friends at the end!” he joked.
The Cowboy Channel Rookie Roundup presented by Resistol brings the top 15 rookies in each event for a single elimination round on April 28. The top eight will advance to the following night for another sudden death round. At the conclusion of that round, the top four will compete on another head to determine the champions. In 2022, Tom Crouse earned the title and better than $3,000, just edging out eventual 2022 Rookie of the Year Riley Webb.
The Clovis Rodeo celebrates its 109th year in 2023. Competitors have already roped in two go rounds on April 25-26 and the top 36 from the two-head average advance to a progressive round held during performances April 27-29. The top 12 on three compete on championship Sunday, April 30.
Competitors at the Cowboy Channel Rookie Roundup presented by Resistol with their current rankings:
1st —Cash Enderli, Liberty, TX, $25,269
4th — Brayden Roe, Wendell, ID, $14,512
5th — Dylan Hancock, San Angelo, TX, $12,976
6th — Colten Wallis, Big Spring, TX, $9,815
7th — Carsyn Sunvison, Mc Dade, TX, $5,083
9th — Austin Lawrence, Spery, OK, $4,087
12th — B. Greene, Rocksprings, TX, $1,572
16th — Lane Howard, Sheridan, IL, $976
24th — Titan Quigg, Rankin, TX, $579
27th — Word Hudson, Sonora, TX, $542
33rd — James Ramirez, Manhattan, MT, $200
35th — Wacey Zant, Stephenville, TX, $150
NR — Quint Bell, Paradise Valley, NV
NR — Darcy Kersh, Hico, TX
NR — Brice Meyers, Mabank, TX
Progressive Round Qualifiers at Clovis Rodeo
- Shane Hanchey, 17.5 on two head
- Cash Hooper, 19.1
- Haven Meged, 19.4
- Macon Murphy, 20.0
- Ty Harris, 20.1
- Lane Livingston, 20.2
- Luke Potter, 20.2
- Tyler Milligan, 20.3
- Trevor Hale, 20.4
- Brush Minton, 20.4
- Joel Harris, 20.4
- Blane Cox, 20.6
- JT Adamson, 20.7
- Zack Jongbloed, 20.7
- Riley Webb, 21.2
- Riley Pruitt, 21.6
- Randall Carlisle, 21.9
- Monty Lewis, 22.2
- Jake Pratt, 22.5
- Marty Yates, 22.7
- Tom Crouse, 22.8
- Neil Dove, 23.2
- Westyn Hughes, 23.3
- Reese Riemer, 23.4
- Cole Dodds, 23.9
- Sy Felton, 23.9
- Stetson Vest, 24.3
- Trent Creager, 24.5
- Russell Cardoza, 24.6
- Jason Andersen, 25.1
- CJ DeForest, 25.2
- Chris McCuistion, 25.4
- Cody Waldrop, 25.8
- Chance Oftedahl, 27.0
- Dan Williams, 27.3
- Chance Thiessen, 28.3
- Jordan Ketscher, 28.3