Interviews and photos by Kenneth Springer
January 23, 2020 — Fort Worth, Texas — Rodeo X kicked off the rodeo action at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo on January 23. FWSSR’s $100,000 extreme-team, one-night shootout features eight teams represented by rodeos held at San Angelo, Texas; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Austin, Texas; Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; San Antonio, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Cheyenne, Wyoming, competing in bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racers representing the above teams were Jill Tanner, Lisa Lockhart, Emily Miller, Britany Diaz, Jennifer Sharp, Amberleigh Moore, Jimmie Smith and Danyelle Campbell.
When the field of eight narrowed down to four, it was Jimmie Smith (representing Fort Worth), Emily Miller (representing Rodeo Austin), Jennifer Sharp (representing Denver) and Britany Diaz (representing Rodeo Houston) who composed the field of finalists.
Britany Diaz, riding for Rodeo Houston, made Emily Miller put out her best efforts. Diaz clocked times of 16.470 and 16.582 to nail down second place in both the long go and the finals of Rodeo X.
“In the past I haven’t had much luck at this rodeo,” said Weatherford, Oklahoma, cowgirl Emily Miller before competing at Rodeo X.
With the help of her 10-year-old gray gelding Namgis D 33, Miller tossed her bad luck out the window, winning the first round with a 16.435 to top the field of eight. In the top-four final round, Miller and “Chongo” came back even stronger with a 16.407. Miller was also happy to break a short streak of bad luck at Denver, where a tipped first barrel in both go-rounds sent her home without a paycheck.
Sponsored by Chase bank, the Rodeo X win was worth $10,000 to Miller, who qualified for her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2019 and ended the year in third place with winnings of $255,798.
Denver Team Breaks Houston’s 5-year Grip on Fort Worth’s Rodeo X Championship
Article by Johna Cravens, courtesy Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
Rodeo X, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s $100,000 extreme team rodeo competition, featured a tight race between teams representing eight of North America’s most historic and prestigious rodeos. This year’s event, which moved to the new Dickies Arena, had seven of those teams trying to unseat Rodeo Houston, which had won the team title the previous five years.
Thursday’s event featured champions from each of eight legendary rodeos, including Cheyenne Frontier Days, the Calgary Stampede, Rodeo Houston, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo, Rodeo Austin, the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo in Denver and the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. They competed in bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding in a tournament format with each rodeo’s team wearing the same colored shirt for easy identification.
First, eight contestants competed in each event, with the top four qualifying for a second round where the winner received $10,000 cash. Many of the contestants were current or former world champions and National Finals Rodeo qualifiers, and the livestock was among the elite in pro rodeo.
Oklahoma barrel racer Emily Miller, riding for Rodeo Austin, had the fastest barrel racing time of the first round—16.435 seconds. She clocked even faster, a 16.407, on her gray gelding Namgis D 33 to win the $10,000 prize.
Canadian Clint Laye, riding for Denver, rode Northcott-Macza Pro Rodeo’s horse Coors Original to win the first round of bareback riding with 89 points. He was the first Denver team member to reach the second round.
No first-round scores carried over, so the four finalists began on even footing. Richmond Champion, riding for Houston, started the final round, scoring 87 on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Miss Dunny. Cheyenne’s representative, Kody Lamb, only scored 85 points. Leighton Berry, riding for Rodeo Austin, took the lead with 89 points on another Smith horse, Witchy Woman. Laye, the final cowboy to ride, broke into the 90s when he scored 91 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Cactus Black, a horse that was selected for December’s NFR.
“I just got in the zone and let it fly,” Laye told former world champion all-around cowboy Dave Appleton in an interview on the arena floor.
Appleton remarked that Dickies Arena was a special place.
“I feel like a rock star!” Laye said.
He kept that special feeling when Ed Bass, chairman of the board of the FWSSR, handed him $10,000 in cash.
The finalists in steer wrestling clocked times of four seconds or less. 2019 world champion Ty Erickson, riding for Denver, was the slowest of the four with a time of 4.02 seconds, and NFR veteran Kyle Irwin, riding for Calgary, was the fastest with a 3.39. Erickson, who competed first in the final round, put his steer on the ground in 3.99 seconds and held on to win the event, giving Denver its second event-winner of the night.
The saddle bronc riding featured eight rides marked between 84 and 88.5 points. Austin team member Sterling Crawley led the pack on Brookman Rodeo’s Satisfaction. Four cowboys marked 87.5, but only three could join Crawley in the final round. Denver’s Coburn Bradshaw lost the tiebreaker, making that the only event where Denver didn’t send a team member to the final four.
Ryder Wright, the 2017 world champion who rode for San Angelo, scored 92 points on Korkow Rodeos’ famous bronc Onion Ring to win the event and Crawley’s 90-point ride on Stace Smith’s Cow Camp was second.
In bull riding, newly crowned world champion all-around cowboy Stetson Wright, representing Fort Worth, scored 89 points in the first round on Andrews Rodeo’s Mellow Yellow. Jordan Spears, riding for San Angelo, squeaked into the final round after refusing a re-ride on Stace Smith’s bull Nose Job and scoring 71 points.
But Spears made the most of that decision. He was the only cowboy to ride in the final round, scoring 86 on Andrews Rodeo’s bull Breaking Records and winning the $10,000. Second through fourth place was determined by the number of seconds before disqualification.
The team race was tight with two events won by Denver, two by San Angelo and one by Austin. Denver’s bull rider Brody Yeary clinched the title for his team. Although he didn’t get a score, he finished second in the bull riding by virtue of staying on his bull less than a second longer—84 hundredths to be exact—than third-place finisher Trevor Kastner.
The Denver team earned the title with $25,500 won by team members. San Angelo was second with a total of $22,000 and members of Rodeo Austin’s team won $20,500. Each member of the Denver team earned a $1,000 bonus.
The World’s Original Indoor Rodeo begins its new era in Dickies Arena at 7:30 p.m. January 24 with the first of 18 rodeo performances.
Rodeo X Results
January 23 — Fort Worth, Texas
Barrel Racing: 1, Emily Miller, Weatherford, Okla. -Team Rodeo Austin, 16.407 seconds, $10,000. 2, Brittany Diaz, Desdemona, Texas -Team Rodeo Houston, 16.582, $4,000. 3, Jimmie Smith, McDade, Texas -Team Fort Worth, 16.628, $2,000. 4, Jennifer Sharp, Richards, Texas-Team National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, 21.935, $1,000.
Bareback riding: 1, Clint Laye, Cadogan, Alberta, Canada-Team National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, 91 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeo’s Cactus Black, $10,000. 2, Leighton Berry, Weatherford, Texas-Team Rodeo Austin, 89, $4,000. 3, Richmond Champion, The Woodlands, Texas-Team Rodeo Houston, 87, $2,000. 4, Kody Lamb, Sherwood Park, Alberta-Team Cheyenne Frontier Days, 85, $1,000,
Steer Wrestling: 1,Ty Erickson, Helena, Mont. – Team National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, 3.99 seconds, $10,000. 2, Kyle Irwin, Robertsdale, Ala. – Team Calgary Stampede, 4.09, $4,000. 3, Scott Guenther, Provost, Alberta, Canada – Team Rodeo Austin, 4.44, $2,000. 4,Tyler Pearson, Louisville, Miss.-Team San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo, no time, $1,000.
Saddle Bronc Riding: 1, Ryder Wright, Milford, Utah – Team San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo, 92 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Onion Ring, $10,000. 2, Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas-Team Rodeo Austin, 90, $4,000. 3, Rusty Wright, Milford, Utah – Team Calgary Stampede, 89.5, $2,000. 4, Mitch Pollock, Twin Falls, Idaho -Team Cheyenne Frontier Days, 87, $1,000.
Bull Riding: 1, Jordan Spears, Redmond, Oregon -Team San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo, 86 points on Andrews Rodeo’s Breaking Records, $10,000. 2, Brody Yeary, Brock, Texas -Team National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, 0 points, 5.87 seconds, $4,000. 3, Trevor Kastner, Roff, Okla. -Team Rodeo Houston, 0 points, 5.03 seconds, $2,000. 4, Stetson Wright, Milford, Utah – Team Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, 0 points, 3.45 seconds, $1,000.
Team Champion –National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, Denver, Colorado
Team members: Clint Laye, Cadogan, Alberta (bareback riding); Ty Erickson, Helena, Mont. (steer wrestling); CoBurn Bradshaw, Beaver, Utah (saddle bronc riding); Jennifer Sharp, Richards, Texas (barrel racing) and Brody Yeary, Brock, Texas (bull riding) each received a $1,000 team bonus.