Caleb Smidt – Bellville, Texas
3-time WNFR qualifier
Last year, Caleb Smidt would have been really happy if the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) had been over after the fifth round.
He was in the lead in the average and would have won the world title if it was all over then. Instead, he had to rope five more calves and wait through five more anxiety-ridden nights of rodeo. In the end, the result was the same and he left Las Vegas as the newly crowned tie-down roping champion of the world.
His slowest time came in round eight when he stopped the clock in 9.3 seconds. That opened a door for other competitors that he came back and closed with two 7.3 second-runs. He won $154,904 in Las Vegas and $242,354 for the year. That is over half of his career earnings through the 2015 season of $436,585 since he joined the PRCA in 2012.
Caleb, who is 27 years old, qualified for his first NFR in 2013 and finished 10th in the world. The all-around talent – he won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s all-around championship in 2010 — was practicing steer wrestling at his home and had a career-threatening ankle and leg injury. Two surgeries later and lots of therapy and determination saw him come back stronger and grittier.
He also got a new horse, “Pocketfull Of Light,” that he purchased in February of 2015. The combination has been very successful again. Even though Caleb didn’t ride Pockets part of the 2016 season, he qualified for the NFR in eighth place with $76,469 won during the regular season.
While 2013 was a difficult year in rodeo, it was a great year in his personal life. He married his girlfriend that he had been dating since junior high, Brenna Byler. Last February, they added a baby boy, Cru Tatum, to their family.
This year, Caleb is very thankful to be back in Vegas and have Pockets healthy and ready to ride. With the addition of Cru, he has an even greater appreciation for family support. The south Texas roper has garnered a lot of fans in his four years of PRCA membership.
In October, he was the grand marshal for the Great Western Days Parade in Yorktown, Texas, where he grew up, roping and playing other sports. Another world championship might mean a celebration parade centered around him.