Cowboy Capital boasts 23 qualifiers for National Finals Rodeo

Team roping header Kaleb Driggers of Stephenville and his heeling partner, Junior Nogueira are tops in the world standings entering the 2017 National Finals Rodeo in December. They are shown in round 9 of the 2016 NFR. || Courtesy DUDLEY BARKER/

Flash Staff Report

The Cowboy Capital of the World is set to prove such title belongs here in Stephenville as the central hub of Erath County and the surrounding area, from where an unofficial count of 23 athletes will soon travel to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl of Rodeo.

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is December 7-16 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, where the local delegates will include almost half the field of team ropers – 14 of 30 – with seven headers and seven heelers (not all roping together) finishing in the top 15 when the 2017 regular season ended over the weekend.

There are two world leaders in team roping header Kaleb Driggers and saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley, who will again compete with his brother sitting at ninth in the same event. In between the Crawley’s at No. 6 in saddle bronc riding is one of the brightest young stars in all of rodeo in Tarleton State University senior Brody Cress. An Ag business major, Cress won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region championship last year and reached the College NFR the past two years. All he’s done recently is win championships at Cheyenne Frontier Days, California Rodeo Salinas and Pendleton Round-Up in Oregon, three of the most prestigious regular season rodeos on the PRCA tour.

Others in the top five of their respective events include No. 4 Luke Brown in team roping heading,No. 2 Cory Petska and No. 3 Paul Eaves in team roping heeling and No. 5 Kassie Mowry in barrel racing.


But with $1.1 million per event on the line in Las Vegas, no lead is safe and all qualifiers enter the NFR as contenders for the best buckles of all, those awarded to the world champions following the final performance on December 16.

The NFR, of course, is 10 complete rounds with no narrowing of the field for a finals or short go. The money has increased through the years, with the last push stretching the purse to $10 million, equally distributed by event and performance. The average placements are paid the traditional round-and-a-half value. The first $1.2 million of the purse will be doled out in $10,000 qualifying bonuses all NFR participants receive upon their arrival. The remaining $8.8 million is up for grabs and will determine the eight world champions as well as the All-Around Cowboy.

The Flash will have much more information coming soon concerning these cowboys and cowgirls and other residents of Erath County who will play their own distinct roles in the 2017 NFR. Stick with for news and sports, including rodeo.

*Know someone who should be added to the list of local 2017 NFR qualifiers? Comment on this story or email and we will gladly work with you to get them verified and included.


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