GREAT FALLS – When Kory Mytty and Shane Schwenke teamed up for their first Montana Circuit team roping title in 1994, several of the competitors they were riding against this weekend weren’t even born yet.
But the legendary duo showed, with 51 circuit finals appearances between them, they still have magic in their loops.
On Sunday in Great Falls, a 6.4-second effort was enough to claim the average title at the annual event – 19.9 on three head – and punch their ticket to the Ram National Circuit Finals in Kissimmee, Florida.
It was the fourth time that Schwenke and Mytty had claimed the average title as a duo, and the first in 15 years.
“There’s several kids here that are roping that are going to be future NFR qualifiers and great competitors,” said Mytty. “But to be able to hang with them and still beat them feels awesome.”
It was the 27th career circuit finals appearance for Mytty, a heeler from Lolo. And it earned him his 11th trip to the RNCFR.
“For us to be able to win this and go on to Florida and to try to win a national championship, I’ve always dreamed of doing that,” Mytty said. “I’ve been there 11 times, and I’ve gotten second at it twice, but at this age where we are now, the chances are kind of stacked against us.”
“But we have some confidence after this win, so it’s good,” he added.
Mytty is 49 years old and Schwenke, a header from Zortman, is 51. They first met on the circuit while both were in college.
“I was in my first year of college, and he had just got out of college. We didn’t even know each other and we entered a rodeo together in Kalispell,” recalled Mytty. “We ended up placing at that rodeo and just became the best of friends, started going around to different places together, jack potting and roping and winning and having our share of luck. About 1993, I just begged him to rope with me to make the national finals.”
They qualified for the NFR as a team in 1994 and continued to have success across the nation.
“We made the national finals that same year and did good there,” Mytty said. “We won a go round and placed in three of the rounds. That was when we were at our peak. Then we slowed down and got real jobs and decided to bring it down to the circuit level.”
Mytty is the rodeo coach at the University of Montana and runs a real estate business. Schwenke is busy running his ranch in Zortman full time. Through the years, they’ve occasionally roped with others but decided to team up for one more circuit finals, which may have been their last.
“This is probably our 18th trip together,” Mytty said. “Sometimes when other ropers switch partners, it’s like a divorce. But we’ve never burnt a bridge, we always know we’re going to be partners for life.”
Partners for life, and at least one more rodeo.
The RNCFR begins March 21 in Kissimmee, Florida.