Two weeks after his 19th birthday, Benjamin Lauweryssen earned a gift that’s worth thousands of dollars.
The Big Valley teenager was half of the champion team that won more than $22,000 in the Sundre Super Six team-roping championship this month at Olds.
Lauweryssen and his partner, Shelby Boisjoli of Strathmore, each took home about $11,250 as the top entry in the 15th annual event.
Lauweryssen also received a commemorative saddle that’s valued at about $2,000.
“I won $6,000 once, a few years ago, but never this much money,” he said.
“I have been in (the Sundre Super Six) before, but this is the first time I’ve won it.
“It’s a pretty big roping event. There were probably 1,000 teams entered throughout the whole weekend.”
Lauweryssen, who graduated this spring from the Alberta High School Rodeo Association ranks, teamed up with a current high school competitor in the 14-year-old Boisjoli.
“She asked me to rope, so we got entered up and way we went,” he said. “Her older sister and my sister (Jayne) are pretty good friends.”
The Lauweryssen-Boisjoli entry proved to be a winning tandem against a deep talent pool of ropers.
Although they finished in style, they didn’t immediately know that they were champions.
“I didn’t even know I won until one of my friends told me,” said Lauweryssen, who received the news from Stettler cowboy Connor McComish.
“I was unbootin’ my horse — bunsaddling my horse — at the time.
“There was a short-go at the end of the day … it would go from the longest runs to the faster ones, and we were third last, and then the two teams ahead of us didn’t do any good, so then we got (the golden finish). We were pretty good on our last steer.”
Lauweryssen capped his solid school career last month when he competed in the Canadian high school finals at Virden, Man., along with partner Riley Chalack of Carstairs.
It’s been a steady ride for Lauweryssen, who’s known for his laid-back personality, much like his horse, Gunner, a two-time winner of the high school heel horse of the year in District 2.
That approach served him well in Olds.
“Stay focused and confident and don’t get too pressured up,” he said. “Just stay relaxed and that kind of stuff.
“I’m usually pretty relaxed.”
He also had a worthy partner in the up-and-coming Boisjoli, who won a truck in an earlier competition.
Lauweryssen’s big win came on the eve of his sister Jayne’s departure for college in Sheridan, Wy., where her rodeo teammates include fellow Big Valley resident Zeke Thurston.
Lauweryssen works full-time in Trochu for John Deere in an apprenticeship for his agricultural technician studies at Olds College. He’s headed to school in January.
He went to the bank the day after his Olds windfall to invest his winnings in a savings account. Last week, he bought a new car, a Chevrolet Cruze.
Lauweryssen’s youngest sister, Anna, is carrying on the family rodeo tradition at the school level. She’s competing in the junior high circuit, which kicked off its District 2 season this past weekend in Stettler.