By Joe Naiman
Two Ramona cowboys came home winners in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Ram California Circuit Finals Oct. 19-21 in Lancaster.
Marcus Battaglia and his team roping partner won the average, and Matt Deskovick won a steer wrestling go-round and placed second in the average.
“It was a great experience,” Battaglia said.
Battaglia, the team roping header, partnered with heeler Kyle Lockett of Visalia.
“Kyle’s a great partner to have,” Battaglia said. “He cleans it up for me, makes me look good.”
In the first go-round Battaglia and Lockett had a time of 7.7 seconds to split fourth and fifth place.
“We didn’t know the steers,” Battaglia said.
That meant the ropers had to guess how the steer would likely move.
“We caught him and it worked out,” Battaglia said. “It kind of set the pace for the whole weekend.”
The go-round position paid Battaglia and Lockett $129 each.
Battaglia and Lockett had a third-place time of 6.6 seconds on their Saturday run.
“We had a good steer,” Battaglia said. “Good run for that night.”
Third place in the go-round paid $516 to each partner, which is they also received after their Sunday time of 6.8 seconds gave them third in the final performance. Battaglia and Lockett were the second to last team to compete Oct. 21, so they knew what time they had to beat to win the average.
“I stuck to my game plan,” Battaglia said.
Battaglia and Lockett finished the rodeo with an average of 21.1 seconds on three head. The only other team ropers to catch all three of their steers were Travis Xavier of Shandon and Mike Monighetti of Los Alamos, who had an average of 22.1 seconds on three head. Winning the average paid Battaglia and Lockett $1,548 apiece, bringing their total weekend earnings to $2,709.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has 12 circuits. The year-end champion for each circuit (California, Texas, and Montana are the only single-state circuits) and the average winner at the circuit finals both qualify for the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which will take place April 4-7 in Oklahoma City.
“Kind of been a goal of mine,” Battaglia said of his first RNCFR qualification.
Although Battaglia partnered with Lockett throughout the season, he rode a relatively new horse at the circuit finals. Battaglia purchased Sis, a 17-year-old mare, in Arizona approximately a month and a half ago.
“She worked out this weekend,” Battaglia said. “Our confidence together is starting to build.”
Deskovick has been to RNCFR once.
Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos won the circuit finals steer wrestling average with a time of 14.1 seconds on three head while Deskovick was second with a three-head average of 14.4 seconds.
“It seems to be a common trend nowadays,” Deskovick said of finishing second.
Branquinho also won the year-end championship, but if the year-end champion also wins the circuit finals average, the second-place cowboy in the season standings receives the RNCFR invitation.
“I really wanted to qualify and make it back,” Deskovick said. “It just didn’t work out.”
Deskovick rode Red Horse for all three go-rounds, but he had two different hazers. Blaine Jones hazed during the first two performances but then injured his knee, so Riley York of Loyalton was Deskovick’s hazer on Sunday.
“Worked out,” Deskovick said.
Deskovick’s first run took 5.3 seconds, giving him fourth place and $278 He also finished fourth and earned $278 for his October 20 run of 5.5 seconds.
Deskovick had a time of 3.6 seconds Oct. 21. Jones placed second in that go-round with a time of 4.0 seconds. Deskovick earned $1,111 for winning the go-round and $1,250 for second place in the average.
“I had a pretty decent rodeo,” said Deskovick. “I didn’t draw the best cattle. I drew a good steer on the last one, but my first two weren’t that great.”
Deskovick earned a total of $2,917 during the weekend.
“I think it was more money today than I won all year in the circuit,” he said.
All three Ramona cowboys who participated in the circuit finals placed in at least one go-round. Cameron Elston’s time of 10.4 seconds in the first tie-down roping go-round split fourth and fifth to earn $139.