With a $50,000 cash payout, the Tie Down Roping Super Series at the Houston Rodeo was not Fred Whitfield’s biggest win, but it may end up being the most memorable.
“I’ve never in my life heard 70,000 people scream that loud,” Whitfield said of the moments after he managed to tie his calf in 7.8 seconds on March 16. “It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I knew that my time was good enough to win.”
Whitfield, who resides in Hockley with his wife and two daughters, won the same event back in 2000. He said he felt like 2013 was going to be his year.
“I felt like I’ve had chances prior to this year to win it, but for some mysterious reason it kept slipping out of my hands,” he said. “Going into the final day this year, I was feeling good. In my mind, I was pretty much holding the key to the city.”
Whitfield clocked in at 8.6 seconds in the final round, which was enough to get him a place in the final shootout, where he put up the 7.8 second score—one of the best times of his career.
“When you’re competing against the best guys in the world, there are so many variables that come into play and anybody can really win,” he said. “I had a few things working in my favor: I got a decent calf, some guys had some bad luck, and I’ve always worked best under pressure.”
After the event, Whitfield said he could not go anywhere in the stadium without being bombarded by fans asking for autographs. He said competing in Houston is always special, and winning this event in front of friends, family and community members meant a lot to him.
“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to rope,” said Whitfield, who is 45 years old, “but they told me I’m always going to be invited to the Houston Rodeo.”
After the win, Whitfield bought that calf he roped. He said he is going to brand it with a 78 to commemorate the winning time. His family recorded the performance and he said they still watch it every day.
“The whole thing was unbelievable,” he said. “You can hear my youngest daughter screaming at the top of her lungs. That win is probably never going to get old for me. I’ve won everything there is to win in rodeo and that win is probably the best one in my life.”