By BRAD KEITH
(July 20, 2015) — Trying to get back to the National Finals Rodeo for the third time in four years after missing in 2014, Stephenville saddle bronc rider Sterling Crawley continued his recent wave of success with a victory at one of the most popular stops for the world’s top contenders.
Crawley covered two broncs for scores of 84 and 80, winning the aggregate by a single point at the 105th annual California Rodeo Salinas. He won more than $7,000 at the prestigious event, the most profitable of his six PRCA victories in 2015.
Crawley won round one and $3,269 with 84 points on Rafter G Rodeo’s ‘Sundance,’ and pocketed the same amount for placing first in the average. Add $750 for a third-place tie in the finals and it comes to $7,288, lifting the Stephenville star to 17th in the world with two months remaining for earnings that count toward the 2015 NFR.
Crawley finished 17th in the world standings last year, two spots shy of joining his brother, Jacobs Crawley, at the NFR for the third time. Jacobs is currently seventh in the world standings, in between fellow local standouts Cort Sheer (sixth) and Isaac Diaz (eighth).
Crawley was one of three Salinas winners with local ties, joining team roping header Jake Cooper of Stephenville and former Tarleton tie-down roper Reese Riemer.
Jake Cooper is trying to reach his second NFR, where he has not finished a season since 2007. After finishing 29th in the world last year, he has soared to ninth in 2015, although he is still just about $7,800 in front of No. 15.
Cooper certainly proved that amount can change hands quickly each week, earning $9,141 when he and heeler Tyler McKnight captured the marathon five-round team roping championship at Salinas. Cooper and McKnight roped all five head, tying for second and $1,695 in round one, placing eighth to pocket $183 in round four and finishing third for another $941 in the short go. They posted a total of 43.9 seconds, roping five head sixth-tenths of a second faster than Chad Masters and Stephenville heeler Travis Graves to earn $6,322 in the average.
Graves tied for eighth in the first round and won the finals to place second in the average, earning a total of $7,026. Huckabay header Charly Crawford and Dublin heeler Shay Carroll were fifth in the average for $3,024 after earning $408 through the rounds. They also split top money in the opening round at the 100th annual Snake River Stampede in Nampa, Idaho earlier in the week, for another $2,329 each, pushing their week total to $5,761.
Graves is sixth in the world and Carroll 17th in heeling, while Crawford is 22nd in heading. All three were in the 2014 NFR.
Riemer earned the most unlikely of victories, soaring from seventh in the average to first in a short go that was rough for world class competitors, some of them local.
Riemar was safely out of of the arena with a three-head total of 34.7 seconds after running a 10.6. He never could have foreseen what would happen over the next few minutes.
As the former Tarleton cowboy and 2015 The American champion watched, the top six in the standings entering the finals fell off one by one. Cody Ohl was sixth but was flagged for jerking down his calf from the horse,
After another no time, a miss, a calf that stood up and a 16.1-second run, it appeared all Stephenville star Marty Yates had to do was turn in a clean run to easily capture the average.
But a penalty changed everything, as Yates, like Ohl before him, was flagged for jerking down his calf from his horse, a no-time that dropped him from first to eighth in the average, a difference of more than $4,500. It also took away a likely top two finish in the finals, costing the 2014 NFR qualifier another $1,000-plus.
The losses of Yates and Ohl proved to be the gain of Riemer, whose shocking win in the aggregate meant $4,987 in addition to the $1,032 for placing second in the finals. He tied for sixth and won $723 in the first round.
The $6,742 week puts Riemer right on the NFR bubble. He is 21st in the log-jammed world standings that show him just more than $2,500 out of the top 15.
Yates slipped to ninth in the world after finishing fourth last year. He still earned $3,325 for wining the second round in 9.5 seconds – the fastest run of the week – and $434 in the average.
Scheer tied for the top spy in the average and the finals at the Snake River Stampede, where he was also fifth in the first round and earned a total of $5,700. He tied for third in the average at Salinas, where he won the finals with 84 points on Bar T Rodeo’s Son of Sadie and earned a total of $3,175. For the week, Scheer pocketed a hefty $8,875.
Shelby Herrmann, a Tarleton State barrel racer from Orange Grove, Texas, was second in the first round, fourth in the finals and fourth in the average at Snake River Stampede, earning an impressive $8,597 to move her into the top 20 of the world standings before her 20th birthday in August. Herrmann is featured here on The Flash.
Many of the top competitors drove directly from Salinas to Ogden, Utah to compete in slack in the Ogden Pioneer Days. Several local standouts drove the 850-plus miles overnight Sunday to compete again Monday morning.
The bulk of the rodeo world will also begin turning its attention to Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days that began last Saturday and continues through this Sunday. It’s one of the sport’s premier events with a payout north of $800,000.
View complete standings from California Rodeo Salinas on prorodeo.com here.
View complete standings from Snake River Stampede on prorodeo.com here.
View upcoming schedule on prorodeo.com here.