CASA GRANDE — The 2020 edition of the Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial Pro Classic will take place Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Ed Hooper Rodeo Park in conjunction with Casa Grande Cowboy Days & O’Odham Tash.

The high-paying event will once again showcase ropers at the top of their game. The entry fees are $350 a man, and one can enter three times. Preliminaries start Tuesday.

There is a lot of prize money on the line for contestants, so some of the best ropers in the world show up. The event is named in honor of Mike Cervi Jr., a professional rodeo cowboy who died in a plane crash en route to a rodeo.

The Cervi ropings have always benefited from a generous infusion of $40,000 or so in added money. Historically, the Pro Classic pays out close to 100% and manages to donate money to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund as well, totaling over a quarter million dollars to date.

In addition to a hefty paycheck, champions will receive Coats’ saddles and a Gist buckle.

Events on Wednesday will start at 9 a.m. Amateur ropers (#4 or under) are drawn with some of the biggest headliners in the sport of team roping for three full rounds. The event has become so popular, it has been expanded to 12 slots for both headers and heelers.

The average winners and go-round winners will receive Gist buckles. All teams will receive embroidered Wrangler jackets, caps, team photo and all-day entry passes for the Cervi VIP tent.

The roping event started in 1982 as the Tubac Pro Roping event in Tubac.

“This event is all about having a jackpot for the team ropers that are here for the Tucson Rodeo. The Tucson Rodeo is the major rodeo on the professional tour,” said Cervi Memorial organizer George Aros.

Aros said the pro-team ropers run in Tucson on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, the pro ropers head to Casa Grande for the Cervi Memorial.

Last year’s winners were Riley and Brady Minor, who took home a purse of $31,880. In all, more than $118,000 was paid out to winning contestants last year at the Cervi Memorial.

That kind of prize money brings out the best ropers around, according to Aros.

Tickets are $15 for Wednesday. Admission is free on Tuesday, starting at noon.

“All the pros are already here for the rodeo and we just had an extra jackpot on the side. It became a big event,” Aros said. He said about 200 teams are expected to enter this year and 10% of the total purse goes to benefit the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

The fund is dedicated to assist athletes injured through their participation in professional rodeo.

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Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.

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