For saddle bronc rider Sterling Crawley, it’s a good thing that every competitor who qualifies for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas receives $10,000 at the beginning of the 10-day show.
The $10,000 up front turned out to be the only check that Crawley received at the 2018 National Finals in December. He made only five qualified rides at the Las Vegas championships, but never once placed.
But Crawley, a former Sam Houston State competitor who is from Huntsville, snapped out of his slump soon after the 2018 NFR and he consistently has finished in the money on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit this season.
Crawley's performances last weekend were a prime example. He and his brother, Jacobs, tied for first in the saddle bronc riding title race at the Aug. 9-10 Summit County Fair and Rodeo in Coalville, Utah. They each turned in scores of 83 and they each earned $2,556.
Sterling Crawley, a five-time National Finals qualifier, busted a bronc named Alotta Class, which is owned by Diamond G Rodeo. Jacobs Crawley conquered a Diamond G horse named Jack B Nimble.
Sterling Crawley also clinched the saddle bronc riding title at the Aug. 7-10 Lawton Rangers Rodeo in Lawton, Oklahoma, where he pocketed $3,638. He turned in an 87 aboard a bronc named Capone, which is owned by the Andrews Rodeo Co.
If that wasn't enough, Crawley finished sixth in the saddle bronc riding title race with an 83 at the Aug. 7-10 Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo in Sikeston, Missouri, , where he collected $729.
After all that, Crawley was ranked No. 3 in the PRCA's 2019 saddle bronc world title race with $103,434 (in the world standings released on Wednesday, Aug. 14). Ryder Wright, the 2017 world champion, was ranked No. 1 with $198,208.
With $103,434 in regular season earnings, Crawley has all but clinched a berth in the 2019 National Finals, which is scheduled for Dec. 5-14 in Las Vegas.
Lovington rodeo winners
In recent weeks, world class rodeo competitors have ridden and roped quite a bit in the northern United States in cities such as St. Paul, Oregon, Cody, Wyoming, Nampa, Idaho, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
But during the past weekend, numerous credentialed cowboys and cowgirls saddled up in Lovington, New Mexico, where they competed in the Lea County PRCA Rodeo.
One of them was Stetson Vest, a 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Childress who finished second in the tie-down roping title race with a two-run time of 17.2 seconds. The former Texas Tech competitor earned $5,230.
Vest took advantage of drawing a couple of cooperative calves that helped him turn in attention grabbing times of 8.3 and 8.9.
"I drew pretty good and made a couple of solid runs and it paid off," Vest said.
Another credentialed competitor who visited the pay window was four-time world champion Tuf Cooper, a Childress native who has homes in Decatur and Weatherford. The 2017 PRCA world all-around champion finished fifth in the tie-down roping second round with a 7.7 and he pocketed $1,186.
Vest and Cooper are first cousins. They are grandsons of two-time National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping qualifier Clifton Smith of Childress.
Stetson Vest also is a brother of former Texas Tech defensive back Sawyer Vest.
Shad Mayfield of Clovis, New Mexico, clinched the tie-down roping title in Lovington with a two-run time of 16.4 and he pocketed $6,200. Mayfield has been on a roll on both the junior and pro circuits in recent weeks. He also clinched the tie-down roping title at the July 14-20 National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming. He’s the son of Sylvester Mayfield of Clovis who qualified for the PRCA's National Finals in tie-down roping twice in the 1980s.
In bareback riding, former NFR qualifier Tanner Aus clinched the title with a remarkable score of 90 aboard Pete Carr Pro Rodeo's Good Times Charlie and he earned $5,189. According to prorodeo.com, Aus, a three-time National Finals qualifier, tied the Lovington PRCA rodeo record with 90 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Good Times Charlie, matching the mark set by Will Lowe of Canyon in 2007 and matched by Orin Larsen in 2017.
In steer wrestling, both the single-round and average records were broken. Cody Harmon broke the single-round record of 3.2 seconds when he stopped the clock in 3.1 during the second round. In the average, Cody Cabral clinched the 2019 title with a two-run time of 7.3, which was one-tenth better than the record that was previously set by K.C. Jones of Decatur in 2013, according to prorodeo.com.
Ryan Motes, a Weatherford cowboy, and his partner, Coleman Proctor, clinched the team roping title with a two-run time 9.5. Motes and Proctor, who each have earned four National Finals appearances, grabbed attention by clinching the team roping title at the RFD-TVs The American in March at AT&T Stadium in Arlington where they each earned $433,333 ($50,000 of the $433,333 counted toward the PRCA’s 2019 world standings).
Motes was ranked No. 1 in the PRCA's 2019 team roping heeling world standings (that were released on Wednesday, Aug. 14) with $102,705.
In saddle bronc riding, 10-time National Finals qualifier Bradley Harter, another Weatherford cowboy, clinched the title with an 86-point effort on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Big Tex. He pocketed $4,569.
According to the PRCA, the 2019 Lovington rodeo offered competitors $233,203. The other champions were all-around cowboy Trevor Brazile (who earned $2,351 and he competed in tie-down roping and steer roping); barrel racer Cindy Smith (17.37 seconds); steer roper Billy Good (39.9 seconds on three head); and bull rider Trey Kimzey (88 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Legacy).
Kimzey earned $5,565 at Lovington’s Aug. 7-11 PRCA show. He also clinched the title at the Aug. 6 PRCA Xtreme Bulls tour stop in Lovington where he earned $10,471.
Kimzey, 20, who is from Strong City, Oklahoma, is the younger brother of five-time PRCA bull riding champion Sage Kimzey. The younger Kimzey was ranked ninth in the PRCA’s bull riding standings with $91,042 (in the Aug. 14 standings) and he’s on pace to qualify for his first National Finals.
On the Professional Bull Riders’ circuit, 2017 world champion Jess Lockwood clinched the title at the Aug. 9-11 Unleash The Beast tour stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and earned $38,050.
Cody Nance finished second and pocketed $14,550. Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, finished third and collected $16,580.
Lockwood was ranked No. 1 in the 2018 PBR world standings (released on Sunday, Aug. 11) with 4,200 points. Chase Outlaw was ranked No. 2 with 4,180. Leme was ranked No. 3 with 4,036.66.
Cutting horse update
The Metallic Cat West Texas Futurity began Aug. 10 and runs through Aug. 18 at the Amarillo National Center. The traditional show has drawn world class National Cutting Horse Association competitors.
Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades. Email him at email@example.com.