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(December 12, 2015) — Jacobs Crawley is one eight-second ride away from the saddle bronc riding world championship he has earnestly pursued his entire life.
Crawley, a Stephenville product, is one of just two cowboys to cover all nine broncs at the National Finals Rodeo. He missed the money for just the second time Friday, but the important thing for Crawley was to cover, and he did. He scored 76 points to remain atop the average by five points over rookie of the year CoBurn Bradshaw.
The good news for Crawly, who won the coveted NFR average title in 2013 and has been to five consecutive finals, is that no one besides Bradshaw can catch him in the average if he covers Saturday night in the 10th and final round. And even if, he were to win the average, second at the NFR would still lift Crawley to his first world title.
But Friday wasn’t good for all local championship contenders. Tie-down roper Marty Yates finished in 9.3 seconds and well outside the money in the ninth go-round at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, leaving world leader Trevor Brazile and average leader Caleb Smidt in the driver’s seat in the race for the world title.
Yates, 21, is fifth in the average and fourth in the projected world standings in his second straight NFR and just his third year as a pro. The only thing keeping him from the top of the standings is a broken barrier in the fifth go-round on Monday.
If the NFR is the Super Bowl of rodeo, then the 10th round is fourth and inches in the final moments with the game very much still on the line.
That’s certainly the case for local team ropers, especially Stephenville header Luke Brown and Huckabay heeler Kollin VonAhn. They were sixth in 4.8 seconds Friday, one of the slowest and most penalty-filled team roping rounds of these finals. That keeps them at second in the average behind JoJo Lemond and Junior Nogueira.
Out of the average, but continuing to amass money in the go-rounds, is Lipan heeler Patrick Smith, who helped Trevor Brazile win in 4.0 seconds Friday. Stephenville heeler Kory Koontz was second in 4.1.
Stephenville heeler Jake Long is still third in the average despite struggling Friday. Long and heading partner Coleman Proctor join Brown/VonAhn and Lemond/Nogueira as the only teams to successfully rope all nine head. Stephenville heeler Kory Koontz is fourth in the average, Smith is seventh and Huckabay heeler Paul Eaves eighth.
Brown and VonAhn are each sixth in the world. Koontz is currently second and Smith third with the large average payouts pending.
Officials and Isaac Diaz couldn’t get a horse to cooperate in the chutes Saturday evening, but when he finally rode – between the barrel racers and bull riders – he turned the prolong efforts into a sixth-place ride with 78.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Pretty Boy. Diaz, of Desdemona, is fifth in both the world and the average.
Bobby Mote has pushed his way back to ninth in the bareback average Friday, covering Four Star Rodeo’s Lil’ Devil for 80.5 points and a split of fifth and sixth. No score in the third go-round was the end of Mote’s push for a fifth world championship in the event, but he’s managed to make the money four times at the finals.
Local athletes earned $65,153.85 Friday, and have won $881,968.57 through nine rounds. The final round is Saturday with television coverage beginning at 9 p.m. (CST) on CBS Sports.
Photos courtesy DUDLEY BARKER/DudleyDoRight.com