The sentimental team to watch during next month’s team roping at the National Final Rodeo in Las Vegas has to be Tanner Tomlinson and Patrick Smith. The duo - both members of the Lone Star Ropes pro team - have found remarkable success in 2022. Tanner finished the season as the #5 header in the world; Patrick was the #6 heeler.
Before we get started, some fast facts about these two:
- Tomlinson was 2 when partner Smith was named 2003 Rookie of the Year
- Smith once roped with Tee Woolman, who was 25 years older
- Tomlinson was named Rookie of the Year in 2020
- Tomlinson grew up watching Smith and partner Trevor Brazile rope on television
- Smith is a 13-time NFR qualifier; this is Tomlinson's first time to qualify for the NFR
- Tomlinson ropes with Lone Star's newest rope, The Frio
- Smith heels with his tried and true Thunderbird
The media loves the relationship between the seasoned veteran and Tomlinson who was a toddler when Smith was crowned PRCA Rookie of the Year in 2003. He fondly remembers following Smith’s career.
In 2007, Patrick began roping with Brazile, winning the NFR average in 2008. Their partnership continued to thrive and brought them the 2010 Team Roping World Championship.“I’ve looked up to Patrick my whole life,” Tomlinson says. “It feels like yesterday I was watching him and Trevor on television.”
Watching the two work together, one is immediately struck by their special kinship. They talk easily and laugh together. It’s clear that Tomlinson looks up to Patrick. It’s also clear that Smith enjoys the energy his protege brings to the table.
“Experience matters a lot,” Smith says. “Just having someone who’s been there is important. But it’s also important to rope with someone whose experience is new.”
Competing together night in and night out with one of his childhood idols is a dream come true for Tomlinson.
“It’s an honor,” he says. “I’ve looked up to Patrick my whole life. It feels like yesterday I was watching him and Trevor on television.”
Las Vegas awaits as the duo continues to practice hard for their time in the national spotlight at the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo December 10. The action takes place once again at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“This year I feel a freshness to it” says Smith, who’s appearing in his 13th NFR . “It's nice seeing hard work pay off."