GUTHRIE, Okla. – If saddle bronc rider Jacobs Crawley lacked any confidence prior to his appearance at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, he’s leaving with a truckload.
Crawley, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Stephenville, Texas, rode two broncs Saturday night during the final performance of RNCFR and walked away from the Lazy E Arena with the coveted title of national champion.
“I’m just excited, happy and riding confident,” said Crawley, who won the NFR average championship four months ago in Las Vegas. “I think that’s what every bronc rider and cowboy wants is to get confident and feeling good. Summer’s just around the corner, so this is the kind of momentum heading into three straight months of rodeoing.
“Hopefully I can win some money (over the summer run) and get close to that gold buckle.”
The rodeo’s format featured 24 contestants competing in two go-rounds. The top eight cumulative times or scores advanced to Saturday night’s semifinals, where the scores were then wiped away. The top four from the semifinals advanced to finals; the top score in was crowned national champion.
In the final round, Crawley rode J Bar J Rodeo’s Sweatin Bullets for 83 points and tied two-time world champion Cody Wright, who matched moves with Lancaster and Pickett’s Total Equine Angel. Crawley won the title because he posted a better score in the semis; he was 79, while Wright was 77.
“That’s a really nice horse,” Crawley said of Sweatin Bullets. “I had that horse at the NFR and had some luck on her. I was comfortable and confident with that animal.”
It showed. In all, he won $13,689. He was joined on the national championship stage by steer wrestler Kyle Irwin of Robertsdale, Ala.; tie-down roper Josh Peek of Pueblo, Colo.; team ropers Ty Blassingame of Sugar City, Colo., and J.W. Borrego of Weston, Colo.; bull rider Parker Breding of Edgar, Mont.; barrel racer Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas; and bareback rider Caleb Bennett of Morgan, Utah.
Like Crawley, Bennett made his way to the title through the tie-breaker. Of the four cowboys who rode in the championship round, three scored 84s: Bennett; Bobby Mote of Culver, Ore.; and Joe Gunderson of Agar, S.D. Bennett, who won the semifinals, with an 84-point ride on Korkow Rodeo’s Inky, claimed the RNCFR crown.
“I don’t think it’s really hit yet,” said Bennett, who rode Pickett Rodeo’s Delta Glamorous in the final round. “It’s still kind of floating through the air, and I’m still floating on clouds.
“This is one of the biggest wins of my career.”
Bennett, a two-time NFR qualifier who earned nearly $64,000 in Las Vegas last December, said the momentum will come in quite handy as he prepares to embark on the busiest stretch of the ProRodeo season.
“Wins like this just help a guy out throughout the rest of the year, with their confidence, their pocketbook,” he said. “I want to be the best I can and as great as I can for my whole entire career. I hope this is a stepping stone in my wins, and I hope it continues to grow.”
Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo
April 10-12, Guthrie, Okla.
Bareback riding: Semifinals: 1. Caleb Bennett, 84 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Inky, $ 5,484; 2. Bobby Mote, 81, $4,113; 3. Seth Hardwick, 78, $2,742; 4. Joe Gunderson, 77, $1,371. Finals: 1. (tie) Caleb Bennett on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Delta Glamorous, Bobby Mote on J Bar J’s Smack Daddy and Joe Gunderson on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Top Flight, 84 points, $4,113 each. 4. Seth Hardwick, 78, $2,742. National champion: Caleb Bennett.
Steer wrestling: Semifinals: 1. Beau Franzen, 3.8 seconds, $5,484; 2. Bray Armes, 4.1, $4,113; 3. Pep Arballo, 4.3, $2,742; 4. Kyle Irwin, 4.4, $1,371. Finals: 1. Kyle Irwin, 3.3 seconds (ties Stockton Graves’ 2011 record), $5,484; 2. Bray Armes, 3.9, $4,113; 3. Beau Franzen, 4.1, $2,742; 4. Pep Arballo, 6.5, $1,371. National champion: Kyle Irwin.
Tie-down roping: Semifinals: 1. Adam Gray, 7.6 seconds, $5,484; 2. J.C. Malone, 8.3, $4,113; 3. Josh Peek, 8.4, $2,742; 4. Jerome Schneeberger, 8.6, $1,371. Finals: 1. (tie) Josh Peek and Jerome Schneeberger, 7.7 seconds, $4,799 each, 3. J.C. Malone, 9.5, $2,742; no other qualified runs. National champion: Josh Peek.
Saddle bronc riding: Semifinals: 1. Jeremy Meeks, 81 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s Spade, $5,485; 2. Jacobs Crawley, 79, $4,113; 3. Cody Wright, 77, $2,742; 4. Brandon Biebelle, 71, $1,371. Finals: 1. (tie) Cody Wright on Lancaster and Pickett’s Total Equine Angel and Jacobs Crawley on J Bar J’s Sweatin Bullets, 83 points, $4,799 each; 3. Jeremy Meeks, 79, $2,742; no other qualified rides. National champion: Jacobs Crawley.
Team roping: Semifinals: 1. Jake Barnes/Cory Petska, 4.1 seconds, $5,484 each; 2. Paul David Tierney/Jared Bilby, 4.2, $4,113; 3. (tie) Nick Sartain/Reagan Ward and Ty Blasingame/J.W. Borrego, 4.6, $2,057 each. Finals: 1. Ty Blasingame/J.W. Borrego, 3.9 seconds, $5,484 each; 2. Nick Sartain/Reagan Ward, 4.4 seconds, $4,113; no other qualified times. National champions: Ty Blasingame/J.W. Borrego.
Barrel racing: Semifinals: 1. Kassiday Dennison, 17.41, $5,484; 2. Gretchen Benbenek, 17.42, $4,113; 3. (tie) Shelly Anzick and June Holeman, 17.43, $2,057 each. Finals: 1. Gretchen Benbenek, 17.13 seconds, $5,484; 2. June Holeman, 17.21, $4,113; 3. Kassidy Dennison, 17.23, $2,742; 4. Shelly Anzick, 17.45, $1,371. National champion: Gretchen Benbenek.
Bull riding: Semifinals: 1. Parker Breding, 84 points on D&H Cattle’s Fire Show, $5,485; no other qualified rides. Finals: 1. Parker Breding, 88 points on Silver Creek Rodeo’s Rising Sun; no other qualified rides. National champion: Parker Breding.
Circuit team champion: Prairie Circuit.