Cowboy who surprised responders in full gallop on I-70 is also winner of team roping contest at rodeo |

Cowboy who surprised responders in full gallop on I-70 is also winner of team roping contest at rodeo

Dwight Sells wins team roping overall average competition with partner Cameron Tsinigine

Dwight Sells, the rider who attempted to take his rodeo skills from the arena to the interstate Friday in a horse rescue attempt, learned on Sunday that he was also the winner of the team roping contest at the 81st Eagle County Fair & Rodeo.

While Sells competes throughout the summer every year, he said the 2021 Eagle County Fair & Rodeo just might go down as the most memorable event in his career.

Sells and partner Cameron Tsinigine won the team roping contest’s overall average for the event, the highest team roping payout of the event at $1,560 apiece. Sells has won events on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit before, but the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo win was Tsinigine’s first.

The rodeo wrapped up on Saturday after starting Wednesday. Sells and Tsinigine nearly missed Wednesday’s event after being forced to take a four-hour detour around Glenwood Canyon.

Sells said they arrived just in time, nudging some parking barriers out of the way to make their entrance.

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They won the Wednesday night event, a first-round competition which paid out $1,040 each. It was a good start to the event after a hectic arrival, but hectic only begins to describe the scene which they would encounter following their second-round performance on Friday.

From the arena

Team roping, as the name implies, is an event in which you’re only as good as the partner you select. To form a successful team of two, the partners need to work together to rope and immobilize an animal as fast as possible. The event is timed, and good communication can help riders rope the animal faster.

Tsinigine, 29, has been riding horses since the age of 7 in Arizona. He met Sells five years ago, “and we’ve been buddies ever since,” he said.

The pair started roping together a bit, going to small rodeos at weekly events and fairs in the southwest.

“We hit a couple jackpots here and there,” Tsinigine said.

Sells, 28, got his pro rodeo card a couple of years ago, and found some success. This year, he convinced Tsinigine to give the pro circuit a try.

“He drug me out to all the pro rodeos,” Tsinigine said. “We’ve been to Estes Park, Vernal, Laramie, Sheridan, Casper, Ogden, Cheyenne and Eagle.”

On Wednesday in Eagle, they roped their first steer in 3.7 seconds. It was, by far, the fastest time of the weekend, and the only sub-4 second time recorded over the four-day event.

Sells said that performance drove down their average so much that they were able to cruise to victory from there.

Following their second-round performance on Friday, Sells was feeling pretty confident that they would win the event overall once the dust was settled following Saturday’s performances.

He hit the hospitality tent for some food, leaving his horse saddled up in a nearby pen.

A photo provided by Dwight Sells, right, shows Sells and partner Cameron Tsinigine roping an animal at a rodeo in Wyoming this summer. Sells and Tsinigine won the team roping average competition at the Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, which took place Wednesday through Saturday in Eagle.
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To the interstate

Tsinigine was with his girlfriend at the trailer area to the west, getting ready to call it a night, when he heard some horses making noise outside.

“We heard metal banging, and we looked over that way and they stopped,” Tsinigine said. “And then it started happening again, and I guess they ended up all breaking out of that pen.”

Four horses took off from their corral in the trailer area toward the fair.

“We tried to run and get in front of them,” Tsinigine said.

Ahead, he recognized a familiar sight.

“Dwight was on horseback, and he almost had them turned around, but then they ran up against an electric fence, and they almost tore down another electric fence with someone else’s horses,” Tsinigine said. “Then they turned and found a little trail there.”

The horses ended up finding their way onto Fairgrounds Road, which was crowded with cars. From there they kept running with the traffic, eventually reaching the nearby interstate.

“Dwight was the only one on horseback,” Tsinigine said. “We were trying to run as fast as we can, but we were on foot, so we weren’t covering as much ground as Dwight was.”

Tsinigine said when he reached the nearby Conoco station, he knew his efforts would be futile past that point.

But Sells had a different experience in reaching the more developed area.

“This guy pointed, saying, ‘They went down the interstate,'” Sells said of the escaped horses. “So I just kept following.”

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jacob Best, chasing the escaped horses in his squad car, passed Sells.

“By my surprise, as I’m going down the right shoulder, there’s a cowboy on horse, going down the interstate, trying to rope them,” he said. “So that was one of the biggest shocks to come across.”

Pursuing the horses with the empty trailer, civilian Reini Winter said she too was surprised to see Sells pursuing the animals on the interstate.

“In the ditch, there was a guy at a full gallop, trying to chase these horses down on his own horse,” Winter said.

The horses were eventually captured and loaded into Winter’s trailer without Sells’ help.

Tsinigine, back at the trailers after his footrace to Conoco, said a firefighter eventually came through the camp asking if anyone could come rescue the rider who chased the horses onto the interstate.

“I said, ‘Oh yeah, we were going to go get him anyway,’” Tsinigine said.

Tsinigine said Sells, in mounting his horse and attempting to turn the animals, did what any rider would have done in that situation, finding himself nearby a saddled horse.

“I’m sure I would have went after them, but I don’t know if I would have went as far as Dwight did,” he said.

Sells said he learned a lot about his animal in the event.

“It was kind of fun,” he said. “I’ve never run on the interstate before … I was trying to be a highway cowboy.”

After getting a ride back to the trailers in Tsinigine’s trailer, Sells’ horse received some medicine and a hearty meal.

“I didn’t know if he could handle all that,” Sells said of his horse. “I kind of just went.”

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