13-year-old Moab local Ean Ellis recently won the world champion tie-down roping title for ages 12-and-under in the Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship.

[Photo courtesy of Britnie Ellis]

Moab, we have a world champion in our midst!

Earlier this month, Moab local Ean Ellis won the world champion tie-down roping title for ages 12-and-under in the Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ean took home a winner’s buckle and $20,400 in prize money.

“I’m excited about winning,” Ean said. “This was a goal of mine.”

Tie-down roping, a rodeo staple, is a timed event involving a rider on horseback throwing a rope over the neck of a calf and then tying three of its legs together as quickly as possible while keeping to the guidelines of the competition. Though Ean was 13 years old at the time of the competition, the age category is determined by the entrant’s age at the beginning of the year.

The world champion’s proud parents are Ryan and Britnie Ellis.

“Ean has had this love of rodeo in his heart since he was just a little boy,” Britnie said. “It’s a love that he’s had forever.”

Britnie said that Ean has been doing rodeo events competitively for about a year and a half, and she noted that his love of rodeo arose even though there is not a family background in rodeo sports.

Ean’s rodeo journey started a few years ago, she said, when he was invited to participate in a rodeo by friend Kortney Carlisle. Britnie said Carlisle lent Ean a horse for that first event and then for “quite a few gigs” in the area after that.

“She’s such an encouraging person for him, always has been,” Britnie said, adding that two other friends, longtime Moab locals Ron and Ethel Krist, also taught Ean roping skills, and that Ean’s father has also put in many hours toward the cause.

Ean eventually got his own horse, a dun named Boone, and Britnie said that Ean typically practices five or six days a week in an area set up for this in the family yard.

As his rodeo involvement grew, Ean wanted to join a club so as to be eligible for more competitions. The nearest one, the Emery Junior Rodeo Club, happily accepted him. In addition to tie-down roping, Ean competes in team roping and ribbon roping. His team roping partner is Kaden Keele from Kanarraville, Utah and his ribbon roping partner is Madison Nielson from Price, Utah.

Britnie said the first time Ean competed in tie-down roping he qualified for the state competition – despite it being the first time he had roped a live calf. While the spring competition season was cut short by COVID, he attended a qualifying event and placed first, earning a spot in the world championship competition he went on to win.

“What an experience,” Britnie said. “One year ago I would have never dreamed this is where he would be. We are so proud of him and his hard work and dedication to this sport. We are so grateful for God, family, friends and our freedoms – without these things, this would not be possible.”

Ean indicated that this win is just the beginning of his rodeo efforts.

“I plan to work harder to compete at this level and bring another championship home,” he said.