By: Kendra Santos
Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira won their first gold buckles last December. The defending world champion team ropers—who also have a commanding lead in the 2022 world championship race—won their first gold medals last month at the $562,500 Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City. These two have been busy breaking the record for regular-season team roping earnings. Why did they make time for Days of ’47?
“It’s an awesome opportunity to get to rope for this much money,” said Georgia native Driggers, who now lives in Texas with his barrel racer wife, Nicole. “This money (they each earned $27,850) might not count in the world standings, but it counts in our bank accounts. We’re building a barn at home, so this is a true blessing.”
“We’re having an amazing year,” added Brazil’s Nogueira, who currently makes his home in Texas with his wife, Jaqueline, and their kids, Isabella and Jake Lucinei Gasparim Nogueira, who’s named after both living legend Jake Barnes and Junior’s dad, Lucinei, who died when Junior was 5. “This is an amazing rodeo, and it’s amazing for everybody. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t try to be here. We all need to thank the WCRA (World Champions Rodeo Alliance). This was our day. Glory to God.”
Driggers and Nogueira grabbed the gold with 4.06 seconds in the Gold Medal Round. Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins were the silver medalists with their snappy 4.36-second run, and Brady Tryan and Jake Long were awarded the bronze for 4.66 seconds worth of work. Next stop on the WCRA trail is Cowtown Christmas, December 14-17 in Fort Worth. Take Junior’s advice, get nominated and get there!