It seems like a fairy tale but truth is stranger than fiction! This week ten (that’s 10) of our professional cowboys will be in Las Vegas competing in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
This is close to unbelievable but it is true and rodeo fans will watch. Lucky fans will be ringside in Vegas but mostly fans will be kicked back and watching on Great American Country.
We Are the Cowboy Capital of the World. We don’t mean “Dude Ranches” and “Drugstore Cowboys”. We’re talking about professionals that make a living in a lighted arena before screaming, foot-stomping fans. For those of you watching on GAC this week, here are some local cowboys to cheer for.
Bobby Mote went into the Finals leading the field of 15 qualifiers in Bareback Riding with $126,194 earned. Bobby and his beautiful family relocated from Culver, Oregon to Huckabay more than a year ago. He has four World Championship Gold Buckles and is a heavy favorite to add another.
Stephenville is headquarters for United States Team Roping with a an office building. There are dozens of team ropers in this county that come to Lone Star Arena and small other small family arenas to practice their skills. Many of these are weekend-cowboys who pick up a few dollars at jackpot ropings across the country. From these dozens of teams there emerge a few who get really serious about the sport and travel across the miles towing their highly trained horses, to rodeos.
Luke Brown lives at Morgan Mill and has been to the WNFR 6 times. This year he is in 5th place, riding a great horse and could finish on top. Turtle Powell, former TSU student and member of the rodeo team, went to Las Vegas in 12th place. Turtle earned a buckle in 2011.
Out of the 15 qualifying team roping heelers, Stephenville has sent two of their finest. Jade Corkill recently bought a place near Huckabay. He was ranked number one going into the finals. Jade won a World Championship in 2012 and has qualified for the NFR 6 times.
Martin Lucero finished 9th in 2012 and this year squeezed in at number 15. Martin has been there 16 times. He has won a few rounds in the Thomas & Mack arena and is going for more.
Three local cowboys are competing in saddle bronc riding. Jacobs Crawley ranked 5th going into Thursday’s round. Jacobs has qualified 3 times for the Finals and finished 12th in 2012.
Younger brother, Sterling has been to the WNFR twice and made the finals this year in 15th place.
Isaac Diaz, living at Desdemona, finished his education at Tarleton and was a successful competitor on the rodeo team. Isaac has been to the WNFR 4 times and entered the event this year in 8th place.
Tie-Down Roping has two very popular cowboys riding out every night doing their best to earn some money. Sterling Smith, another former TSU rodeo team member ranked 7th going in although he had led the pack for a good part of the season. This is Sterling’s first time to compete in the Finals but no doubt he’ll be back.
Cody Ohl rides Pearl, Sid Miller’s horse that was AQHA-PRCA tie-down roping horse of the year in 2008 and holds that 1st place distinction for 2013. This is Cody’s 19th appearance in Thomas & Mack Arena. He knows this place inside out and has 6 World Champion gold buckles to show for it. He was All-Around Cowboy in 2000 and Tie-Down Roping Champion in 1997-98, 2001, 2003, and 2006. Watching Cody leave the box is to watch a professional athlete give it everything he’s got every single time.
Cheering for ten professional cowboys that are our neighbors is a great once-in-a-lifetime experience. Oh….and don’t forget Dudley Barker of Stephenville, 2008 PRCA Rodeo Photographer of the Year. Dudley is there catching breath-taking moments of all the contenders for those gold buckles.
Yes, we are the Cowboy Capital of the World, without question.