ARLINGTON — Stephenville team roping header Charly Crawford announced that he will retire after the 2020 Wrangler NFR.
Crawford received a nice farewell gift when he and his partner, Logan Medlin, won Round 7 with a 3.8-second time.
“It’s great, I get to go home and practice and watch my wife during the day in the breakaway roping. It’s awesome, I love it here,” said Crawford, who has qualified for 10 Wrangler NFRs. “The weather is great, I love Texas and I love the fans here and the city.
“If we win another round from here on out, I want my last NFR steer. I have my first one and I want my last one. I bought my first NFR steer in 2013, and he’s still out in the pasture. It took me 63 tries before I won my first NFR (go-round), and I bought him, so we named him Finally because I finally got one. I told him (Medlin) I would buy the last one, so hopefully we got a few more chances so he can buy his first one and I can buy my last one.”
Crawford also is appreciative the 2020 Wrangler NFR is taking place.
“We’re just thankful we’re here and having the NFR and having it in Texas,” Crawford said. “I thought our commissioner (PRCA CEO George Taylor) had done a good job; no matter what, it felt like he was fighting for us, trying to get this thing going. How cool is this? We’re in Arlington, Texas, and we’re one of 15 guys (in each event) in the world who get to compete at this place and take it all in because it’s awesome, and this may be the only time it happens in this building.”
Medlin was thrilled to join Crawford in the winner’s circle.
“Any win is important when this is what you do for a living,” Medlin said. “There’s never a time when it’s not important. It was exciting; any time you win a go-round at the NFR is something every kid dreams of, and to live it out firsthand was quite the experience.”
Stetson Wright is having a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the ages.
The 21-year-old, Utah cowboy won his first career Wrangler NFR go-round in saddle bronc riding with a 90.5-point trip on Hi Lo Pro Rodeo’s Larry Culpepper at Globe Life Field, Dec. 9.
Less than an hour later, he won bull riding with an 89-point ride on Universal Pro Rodeos’ Slinger.
Wright is the first cowboy to win two roughstock events in one night at the Finals since 2001. In Round 4 that year, Jesse Bail split the win in saddle bronc riding and won the bull riding outright.
“Just an awesome horse from Hi Lo,” Wright said. “I watched Cort Scheer (have a) 92-point ride on her at the NFR a couple of years ago. When I saw that I had her (on Wednesday), I knew I had a really good chance to win the go-round. Just happy that everything worked out.”
The saddle bronc riding win carried over into bull riding.
“When I do well in the saddle bronc riding it’s like I get a second wind, my energy level is higher than normal,” he said. “When I get on my bull, I’m a little amped up and ready to go.
To win the bull riding, too, it just topped it all off.
“He (Slinger) looked like he wanted everyone down in the well, so I knew if I kept to the outside on him, I’d get him covered, and I’m just glad it worked out.”
Wright has won Rounds 1, 2 and 7 in bull riding.
The reigning all-around world champion put himself in great position to make it two all-around gold buckles in a row. He has $265,802 and has a sizable lead over second-place Tuf Cooper, who is at $153,634.
“Oh, shoot, it’s not over until the 10th round when they hand someone a gold buckle,” Wright said about the all-around race. “I’m going to try hard because Clay Smith and Tuf Cooper are always doing good, and I try not to pay attention to them because if I did, I think it would affect me a little bit. So I let them do their thing and I do my thing, but it’s not over until the 10th go-round is complete, so I won’t say I’ve won it yet.”
Wright is second in the bull riding standings with $178,248. He trails leader Ty Wallace by a mere $82. Wright is seventh in the saddle bronc riding world standings with $117,293.
After earning $59,795 in saddle bronc riding and bull riding (counting ground money) on Wednesday, Wright was making plans for his winnings.
“I don’t know, but I’m super happy. Maybe I’ll go buy my daughter (Kingsley, 1) some cool Christmas presents,” Wright said.
After his two roughstock victories, Wright was physically fit.
“When you win two go-rounds you can’t feel anything but perfect, and I just feel amazing right now,” Wright said. “I was working out with Ky Hamilton before the NFR. He’s a hard worker, and he put me to work with him. A lot of the credit this year goes to him for being just a good buddy and always helping me out when I need it. He helped me with a lot of my bull riding this year, just talking things through. He’s just a good buddy to me.”
The dazzling performance didn’t go unnoticed by Wright’s brother, Ryder.
“He showed up and showed out,” said Ryder, who is second in the saddle bronc riding world standings. “It was awesome. Couldn’t ask for a better performance in both events.”
Stetson plans on keeping things simple the final three rounds.
“Same thing, nothing is over,” he said. “I’ll keep on keeping on until I’m holding the gold buckle because it’s not over until then.”
Hunter Herrin stays hot with second tie-down roping win
Hunter Herrin is rolling.
The veteran tie-down roper won Round 5 with a 7.4-second run, was second in Round 6 (6.9 seconds) and returned to the winner’s circle in Round 7 with a 6.8-second run.
“We’re just trying to win at all costs,” said Herrin, 36. “I was on The Cowboy Channel with Justin McKee and I knew I had a good one. He said, ‘What are you thinking about?’ and I said, ‘Like a 7.5, 7.6, second or third, if I’m lucky I’ll win first.’ Adam Gray won first on that calf in Round 4 with 7.8. Six-point-eight wasn’t on my mind but when you get a good start, you’re not going to take your foot off the pedal. I was just fortunate everything worked in my benefit.”
This is Herrin’s ninth trip to the Wrangler NFR and first since 2016. Herrin has earned an event-best $101,385.
“Confidence is the biggest part and drawing good,” Herrin said about his success at Globe Life Field. “Like we’ve talked, Rambo (Herrin’s horse) has been really good. I’m not worried about getting faster, I think I need to be in that short, 7.0 range the rest of the way.”
Herrin, with age, has changed his approach.
“In my younger days I was super athletic, quick twitch, quick feet and my hand-eye coordination was really good,” Herrin said. “Now, you almost have to rely on your mind and brain a bit more. My body wants to go, but my brain is like you’re still not 100%. You feel good, but I know there are still some issues (after hip surgery). Right now, my strength is that I’m drawing good.”
Steer wrestler Hass celebrates birthday with go-round win
Veteran steer wrestler Clayton Hass had had a rocky 2020 Wrangler NFR, placing in just one of the first six rounds and registering two no times.
Hass’ fortunes changed in Round 7, as he got the win with a 3.4-second run on his 37th birthday Dec. 9.
“I had a good steer and got a great start tonight,” Hass said. “I was kind of worried when I came across there. It felt good to get the job done tonight. Been struggling a little, but I knew we had a lot left and I had to believe in myself.
“Somebody asked me this morning if I ever won a round on my birthday. I hadn’t. Now I can’t say that.”
Hass was quick to credit his horsepower.
“Benz is awesome,” he said. “He’s 14 years old. He tries his heart out. Dakota (Eldridge) and I rode him all year, and he’s been a blessing for my business.”
Eldridge finished second in Round 7 in 3.5 seconds.
Larsen gets first win of 2020 Finals
Bareback rider Orin Larsen is too good to keep down for long.
Larsen, who placed just once in the first six rounds (fourth in Round 6), found the winner’s circle Wednesday.
Larsen had a 90-point ride on Calgary Stampede’s Yippee Kibitz to claim the title.
“That was a great horse of Calgary’s,” Larsen said. “I won Pendleton (Ore.) on that horse in 2018 (with an 88.5-point ride). All these Calgary horses that didn’t get a chance to buck this year are really fresh. A lot of them haven’t been bucked since the winter run because of this corona (COVID-19) lockdown. Everything here as far as Calgary’s have been really bucking and really performing. I knew when I had a Calgary horse by my name it was going to be good.”
Yippee Kibitz was chosen as the top bareback horse of Round 7.
Larsen, who has qualified for six consecutive Wrangler NFRs, changed his mental approach for Round 7.
“I think I just quit trying too hard if that makes any sense,” he said. “There’s definitely some fault on my part, and I will take responsibility for that. Everybody is riding so good and the horses we bring here are really good. With that being said, it kind of comes down to the draw. It is kind of hard to believe you would say that at an NFR, but everyone at the NFR is riding so good and on top of their game, so it comes down to the horse at the end.”
Larsen took a moment to talk about his mustache.
“This might be my new look,” he said. “If I keep winning this kind of money it is going to stay. I got pretty lazy during quarantine, so it might be here to stay.”
Barrel racer Miller-Beisel makes it two in a row
Barrel racer Emily Miller-Beisel got her first win and first check of the 2020 Finals with a 17.01-second run in Round 6.
One night later, the Weatherford, Okla., cowgirl returned to the winner’s circle in Round 7 with a 16.85-second run aboard Chongo.
“He’s very outspoken,” Miller-Beisel said. “That’s one of the things I’ve learned the last three years now. He’s pretty honest, so it’s easy to see whenever he’s ready to rock or not. I did not bring him to practice this morning, 4:20 came pretty early this morning. I brought Beau in for me to get in the arena. When I went back out to clean Chongo’s stall and feed him he had a really good, kind eye. He rested good, and I was pretty confident he was going to have another good day today.”
Miller-Beisel had a double reason to celebrate Wednesday night. Her husband’s birthday is Dec. 10.
“Austin’s 29th birthday tomorrow,” she said. “So, we are going to Texas Live! tonight for the gold buckle ceremony. I’m so excited.”
Bull rider Tyler Bingham injured in Round 7
Bull rider Tyler Bingham suffered a concussion after being bucked off Big Stone Rodeo’s Spotted Demon in Round 7.
Bingham was down on the arena floor for several minutes after being stepped on by Spotted Demon, the 2018 PRCA bull of the year and top bull of the NFR that season.
The Justin Sportsmedicine injury report stated that Bingham suffered a concussion and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Bingham has earned $26,500 at this year’s NFR, highlighted by him placing third in Round 2 with an 82-point ride on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s Smoke Wagon.
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