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Nationally-Ranked WC Roping Duo prepping for CNFR Run

As best friends, Kirby Blankenship and Lane Cooper do a lot together.

Kirby Blankenship

This includes enjoying success together in their first year on the Weatherford College rodeo team.

Halfway through the 2017-18 season, each finds himself ranked third nationally in their respective team roping standings. Cooper is a header and Blankenship a heeler.

Each also leads their event in the Southwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

And yes, they rope together for the Coyotes, along with some rodeos outside of school competition.

“Lane and I have been great friends for quite a while,” Blankenship said. “We have always roped some together and had a little success, but at the college rodeos we have had a very large amount of success and have got ourselves a great start to the college rodeo season.”

The two met several years ago. Now, not only are they great friends, they are roommates at their home in Brock.

Lane Cooper

“In my opinion, being close friends with your teammate does help in the long run,” Cooper said. “Therefore, we both understand when one has a hard time or they just seem different than usual. We tend to help each other out and build up their confidence.”

There is certainly a lot to be confident about this season. Not only are they enjoying a great year, but the Weatherford College men and women are each ranked third in the regional standings and chasing their first twin qualifications for the College National Finals Rodeo.

“Yes, we have had a wonderful season so far. We are staying very focused and look forward to many more rodeos,” Blankenship said. “We all feel very blessed and just would like to thank God for the successful year so far. And yes, of course we have friendly rivalries, so our entire rodeo team is one big family and we each push each other to become the best we can be.”

Cooper has been roping since the age 3. He started roping competitively in high school at Weatherford. Blankenship, a Lampasas product, has been roping for about 10 years.

“I have been involved in the rodeo industry since I was a little child,” Cooper said. “I picked out my first rope when I was about 3 years old, and ever since then I started roping. Although high school is actually when I began my journey and started competing.”

Now, being as close as they are, they rope together every day, pushing each other to constantly improve.

“I feel that since we practice and rope with each other so much we have an edge on the competition at some of the rodeos,” Blankenship said. “Some kids aren’t as fortunate as us, getting to rope with their partner every single day.

“I wouldn’t really say that we have a rivalry, but we each push each other every single day to get better and work on things that aren’t perfect. In this sport, nobody is perfect, and another cool thing is you can always improve no matter if you are the best in the world or just now learning.”

Given where they currently are in the standings, improvement can only mean one thing – that they will be packing their bags for Casper, Wyoming, next June.

But, Cooper stresses that will only happen if they continue to work hard and not let up because they’ve enjoyed such success so far.

“We each have a positive outlook on a few goals we would like to accomplish,” he said. “We tend to take the bad days out of the way, and perhaps change them with a better day and achieve these goals. I would like to say that I am very thankful for this wonderful opportunity to accomplish something that I have put my heart and time into.

“And I absolutely love having a roping partner, with an incredible talent, to have the same passion as I do.”

by Rick Mauch