Portales calf roper headed to nationals

Portales calf roper Jerrad Hofstetter will be making his third trip to professional rodeo’s season-ending championship.

Hofstetter, who was named “Rookie of the Year” in 2005, said this year was a bad one for his rodeo career and he had every intention of calling it quits for the year after the Justin Boots Championship in Omaha, Neb.

“I went in with the 12th spot,” Hofstetter said. “My wife and I were pretty much planning on being done for the year and going home. I was just wanting to make enough to get us through the winter.”

Hofstetter said he won $21,900 at the Omaha competition, putting him at $65,100 on the year, which is where he needed to be to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev.

“I really didn’t have a lot of confidence because that was the third time I had been to Omaha and I had never won a single dime,” Hofstetter said, laughing. “So the whole thing really caught us by surprise. I never really felt like I had a chance.

“It’s nice being the Cinderella qualifier, and it comes at a good time. My wife and I are having our first child in February. This will pay for some diapers.”

Las Vegas has not been kind to Hofstetter in the past.

“I’ve left 15th out of 15 every time, so I’m hoping this year will go a little better,” he said. “I feel like I’m roping better now. I feel more confident about going to Vegas than I have in the past.”

Hofstetter said the finals is a 10-day competition.

“We’re pretty excited. We sure feel really blessed to be able to be going,” Hofstetter said. “My goal is to win the average title and as much money as I can.”

Hofstetter said he met his wife, Brittany, on the road while both of them were roping in rodeos and when he qualified for the finals in Las Vegas, she was listening by webcast at home in Portales.

“It’s exciting because he’s had a not-so-great year and it all turned around for him and it’s turned out to be a good year,” Brittany Hofstetter said. “And he deserves it because he ropes really well and he’s an awesome guy.”