By Matt Naber
FORT WORTH, Texas – The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show ended its 75-year run in the Will Rogers Coliseum with a sterling finish when Texan saddle bronc rider Sterling Crawley won his first Fort Worth buckle Feb. 9.
Born in Ennis, Texas, and now a resident of Stephenville, Texas, Crawley is a five-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (2012-13, 2016-18) and has amassed a treasure trove of trophy buckles since joining the PRCA in 2010.
But one of the biggest rodeos in his home state had eluded him for nearly a decade, until now.
“This is one of the ones on my bucket list, and to win it at the last year in this building is awesome,” Crawley said.
The Will Rogers Coliseum is part of the Will Rogers Memorial Center, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
The historic coliseum is set to host year-round equestrian events. Meanwhile, Fort Worth’s rodeo will move to the new, 14,000-seat Dickies Arena, which is slated to open in November.
This historical significance wasn’t outshined by the winners’ circle for the 27-year-old cowboy.
“I’ve been coming here since I was in junior high, and I’ve won money here a few times but was never close to winning it,” Crawley said. “It’s real awesome because my brother (Jacobs Crawley) won it last year and it’s the last year here in the building, and it’s been here since 1944.”
Sterling Crawley won Round 2 with an 86.5-point ride on Andrews Rodeo’s Rock Bottle. He went on to place second in the final round with 88 points on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Delta Dawn, putting him one point ahead of 2016 Saddle Bronc Riding World Champion Zeke Thurston with 256 points on three head.
Crawley knew he was in for a good ride in the final round since Delta Dawn was the winning ride at the All American Pro Rodeo Finals in Waco, Texas, the last two years. In October 2018, Brody Cress won the final round with an 86.5 on Delta Dawn, and one year later Chase Brooks won the same rodeo on the same bronc with 89 points.
“I was fortunate for things to work out the way they did,” Crawley said. “I’d never been on the horse I had, but I’d seen him before and he looked good, so I counted on him doing his job.
“He felt even better than I thought he would. He didn’t cover much ground and got stronger throughout the ride. I’d been looking forward to drawing him for a few years now.”
Crawley placed 11th in the average with 415.5 points on five head at the 2018 Wrangler NFR and finished the year 13th in the world with $108,748.
Once again, he’s setting out to win the world, but this time things are different for the younger of the Crawley brothers as he’s kicking off the season with a big win for the winter run.
“It’s really awesome to do that this early in the year, winters have never been when I won my money,” Crawley said. “Last year, I had a good start in the winter but then broke my collarbone in San Antonio and had to lay out six weeks and missed Austin, San Angelo and a lot of rodeos I’d go to in the past. So it’s great to be healthy and win money in the winter.”
Crawley’s Fort Worth efforts were worth $12,990, and just as importantly it’s a healthy boost in the ProRodeo Tour Standings. Fort Worth marked the third stop on the Tour and Saturday’s win will surely give Crawley a healthy boost in the Tour standings as well as the 2019 PRCA | RAM World Standings.
“It definitely helps on confidence, but I try to stay the course,” Crawley said. “Like in years past, I try to live on 24-hour loops. It doesn’t matter what you did the day before, it’s about the day after.”
With Fort Worth crossed off the to-do list, Crawley has his eyes on San Antonio, Houston, Pendleton, Ore., and Cheyenne, Wyo., in addition to winning the world like his brother, Jacobs, did in 2015.
In other Fort Worth news, steer wrestler Justin Shaffer broke the rodeo record with a 3.1-second run in the final round. The previous record was 3.2 seconds, shared by ProRodeo Hall of Famer Byron Walker (1981); Lee Laskosky (1997); Stephen Canik (1998) and Beau Clark (2012).
Other winners at the $667,267 rodeo were all-around cowboy Marcus Theriot ($10,042, steer wrestling and team roping); bareback rider Ty Breuer (336.5 points on four head); steer wrestlers Stephen Culling and Josh Clark (12.5 seconds on three head); team ropers Adam Rose/Jett Hillman (16.3 seconds on three head); tie-down roper Marty Yates (26.6 seconds on three head); barrel racer Hailey Kinsel (49.37 seconds on three runs); and bull rider Foster McCraw (254 points on three head).
For more coverage of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, check out the Feb. 22 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.
Courtesy of PRCA