RODEO INSIDER: West Texas A&M connection at Cheyenne Frontier Days

Jordan Jo Fabrizio is the assistant rodeo coach at West Texas A&M and she's been wearing a trophy belt buckle that was earned by seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Raymond Hollabaugh.

Hollabaugh, who is the head rodeo coach at West Texas A&M, earned the buckle as the result of clinching the tie-down roping title at the 1983 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming. Hollabaugh was Fabrizio’s coach when she competed for West Texas A&M and she has worn his Cheyenne buckle for inspiration.

But Fabrizio, 28, a Canyon resident, now has a coveted Cheyenne Frontier Days championship buckle of her own. When the break-away roping title was at stake at the famous Wyoming rodeo on Sunday (July 28), Fabrizio clinched it with a time of 4.18 seconds. She also earned $17,515 throughout the rodeo and a trophy saddle.

“It was one of the toughest short rounds that I’ve roped in,” Fabrizio said of competing in the final round in Cheyenne. “You had to back in there and bring your A game.”

Hollabaugh, who was in Cheyenne on Sunday to watch Fabrizio compete, was filled with emotion when she lassoed the prestigious title.

“I was so proud of her,” Hollabaugh said. “I know how hard she’s worked. It was about an hour before I could talk to her. I could hardly look at her without tearing up.”

The Cheyenne rodeo, which is the rodeo equivalent of a Wimbledon stage, featured break-away roping for the first time and drew 242 entries.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for break-away ropers,” Fabrizio said.

Wright riding tough

Rookie Stetson Wright of Milford, Utah, clinched the all-around title at the Cheyenne rodeo. Wright earned $16,007 in bull riding and saddle bronc riding. He also snared bull riding title in Cheyenne after turning in a remarkable score of 93 in Sunday’s final round.

Wright, 20, is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2019 world all-around title race with $160,781 in regular season earnings (in the world standings released on Wednesday, July 31). Caleb Smidt is ranked No. 2 with $126,196. Tuf Cooper, the 2017 world all-around champion, is ranked No. 4 with $92,923.

For the first time, the Cheyenne rodeo featured a tournament format to determine single event champions.

Three-time NFR qualifier Clayton Biglow clinched the bareback riding title with a 91 in the final round. Three-time world champion Will Lowe of Canyon tied for third with an 87.5.

Brody Cress, a two-time NFR qualifier, clinched the saddle bronc riding title in Cheyenne for the third consecutive year. Former Women’s Professional Rodeo Association world champion Nellie Miller clinched her second consecutive Cheyenne barrel racing title.

The other 2019 Cheyenne champions were steer wrestler Eli Lord, team ropers Dustin Bird and Trey Yates, tie-down roper Seth Hall and steer roper Trey Sheets (who is from Cheyenne).

Dan Fisher of Andrews finished second in the steer roping title race. His sons, J. Tom Fisher and Vin Fisher Jr., finished third and fourth, respectively. J. Tom and Vin Fisher Jr. both are from Andrews.

Vin Fisher Jr. is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2019 steer roping world title race with $53,950. Roping superstar Trevor Brazile of Decatur is ranked second with $48,055. J. Tom Fisher is ranked third with $38,529. Tuf Cooper, who has homes in Weatherford and Decatur, is ranked No. 4 with $36,784.

PBR update

The Professional Bull Riders conducted a major show on its Unleash The Beast, the association’s top tier tour, on July 22-23 at the Cheyenne Frontier Days. Chase Outlaw, an Arkansas cowboy, clinched the title at a show called Last Cowboy Standing and earned $156,856 after turning in remarkable scores of 93.5 and 90.5.

Outlaw earned 875 PBR world points for his win in Cheyenne and is ranked No. 1 in the PBR’s 2019 world title race with 4,142.5 points (in standings released on Monday, July 29). Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, finished fourth at the Cheyenne’s show and is ranked No. 2 in the world standings with 3,711.66.

Winning the prestigious PBR show in Cheyenne was a moral victory for Outlaw. Last year, he was pulled down on a bull in Cheyenne and broke 30 bones in his face, according to pbr.com.

WCRA update

The World Champions Rodeo Alliance organization conducted a major rodeo in Salt Lake City, Utah, called the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games. The champion in each event received $50,000 and a gold medal.

One of the $50,000 winners was Matt Reeves who is a resident of Cross Plains near Abilene. Reeves clinched the steer wrestling title during the July 24 final round with a 3.92.

Kaycee Feild and Caleb Bennett shared the bareback riding title and each earned a $50,000 check and a gold medal. The other champions were barrel racer Hailey Kinsel, team ropers Ty Blasingame and Kyle Lockett, break-away roper Jordi Edens, saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston, tie-down roper Ty Harris and bull rider Trevor Kastner.

Death of a legend

Dr. J. Pat Evans, one of the founders of the Justin Sportsmedicine Program, who was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2004, passed away July 22. He was 88. A celebration of the life and legacy of Evans will take place Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. (CT) at the River Ranch Stockyards at 500 NE 23rd Street, in Fort Worth. 

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Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the past quarter-century. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.