Kelce ropes in top prize

Sometimes you have to go back to where it all began. Calera cowboy Philip Kelce’s return to a familiar team roping venue paid off Saturday, beating the best ropers in the Southeast to win a 10–head match team roping event at Ellison Ranch.

“This is as tough as anything we go to,” said Kelce, who began roping in 1995. “It makes it a little more special, because I’ve known (ranch owner Kenny Ellison) for a long time. He actually helped get me started (in roping).

Kelce, 28, was one of the first cowboys to compete in Ellison’s roping event in 2006 – finishing third and then second last year. He has won $2,500 over the three years at the invitational event.

“He roped a real good roping. I’m proud of him,” Elllsion said. “Philip can rope with any of them. He just proved that.”

Kelce, a heeler, and his partner Kaston Peavy, of Bay Minette, roped 10 steer in a total time of 86.6 seconds. The time was good enough to beat two-time National Finals Rodeo winner Jimmy Tanner by three seconds to win the $2,500 top prize and bronze team roping statues. Kelce and Peavy divided the prize in half to take home $1,250 each.

The event featured seven Professional Cowboy Association champions – the title Kelce currently seeks. He sits fifth in the PCA heeler standings after a win last weekend in Brookwood July 12. Peavy is second as a header. He finished third at the 2007 PCA finals in Philadelphia, Miss., in January.