When he was about 14, Sterling Crawley decided to walk in his elder brother’s boot steps.
Crawley’s brother, Jacob, had learned to ride saddle broncs on the rodeo circuit and it looked appealing.
“We both started at about the same age,” Sterling Crawley said. “He was three years older and so I got to watch him do it. He helped me out on dodging some of the setbacks that he had hit.”
Crawley learned well and became a world class bronc buster. The former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier demonstrated his saddle bronc riding talent in dramatic fashion at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo by turning in a score of 81.5, which tied him for first place. Joey Sonnier III, another former NFR qualifier, also turned in an 81.5.
Crawley competed in the Stock Show’s traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association show, which began its 16-day, 29-performance run Friday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Crawley is on a roll at the Fort Worth Stock Show. He also clinched the saddle bronc riding title at the Stock Show’s Rodeo X on Thursday night and earned $10,000 as the result of an 89-point final round effort aboard a bronc named Bartender, owned by the Dakota Rodeo Co. (Joe Simon).
Rodeo X featured credentialed competitors who had had strong finishes at sizable rodeos in cities such as Fort Worth, Calgary, Houston and San Angelo. However, the Thursday Rodeo X was an independent rodeo that was produced by the Fort Worth Stock Show and was not sanctioned by the PRCA. The winner in each event received $10,000, but the earnings will not count in the world standings.
But Friday’s rodeo performance was the Stock Show’s traditional pro rodeo and is sanctioned by the PRCA. In other words, if Crawley earns prize money with his 81.5 or it helps him have an aggregate score that earns prize money, the earnings will count toward qualifying for the December National Finals in Las Vegas.
During the Stock Show’s PRCA Rodeo on Friday, Crawley turned in the 81.5 aboard a bronc named Night Hawk, which is owned by the Championship Pro Rodeo Co. Crawley has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo five times. His brother, Jacobs, has earned eight trips to the Las Vegas championships and snared the PRCA’s saddle bronc world title in 2015.
Both Jacobs and Sterling Crawley travel together to rodeos across America and Canada. Sterling Crawley said it’s advantageous to travel with his elder brother.
“It’s really great because in any situation, it’s always best to be comfortable,” Sterling said. “When I was younger and going to rodeos and not knowing the cowboys really yet, I was lucky to have my brother there. You know you always have somebody in your corner. I was very fortunate that I was in that situation.”
Crawley also said it’s advantageous to have his brother around to advise him.
“It’s great to have someone there who knows how you ride who has your best interest at heart, somebody you can trust their opinion that can keep you level-headed when you start to fly off of the hinges,” Crawley said.
Both of the Crawley brothers graduated from high school in Stephenville. Jacobs graduated in 2006 and Sterling finished in 2009. Stephenville is well known for having abundance of rodeo activity and world class competitors, which was another advantage for Sterling Crawley.
“It was great,” he said. “There was always the rodeo atmosphere. There’s something to be said about being around what you want to do. You kind of become what you’re around all of the time and so it was good influence for us.”
Crawley lived in Stephenville until about 1 1/2 months ago. He has moved to Huntsville where he previously attended college at Sam Houston State.
In bareback riding Friday, three-time National Finals qualifier Casey Colletti of Pueblo, Colorado, took the lead with a score of 85.5 on a bronc named King Thomas, which is owned by the Championship Pro Rodeo Co.
In tie-down roping, Tuf Cooper, the 2017 world all-around champion who has residences in Weatherford and Decatur, leads the first round with a time of 8.0 seconds. Cooper competed on Wednesday in the slack performance, which featured the overflow of competitors who were not scheduled to compete in the main shows.
In steer wrestling, Brandon Harrison of Port Arthur, who competed in the slack performance on Thursday, leads the first round with a 3.7.
In barrel racing, Lesley Casper of Pampa took the lead with a 16.74 during the Friday night performance. In bull riding, Dalan Duncan of Ballard, Utah, took the lead with an 82.5 on a bovine named Western Rocket that owned by the Rafter G Rodeo Co.
The Rafter G Rodeo Co, which is based is Terrell, is owned by Neal (age 92) and Jim Gay (56). Neal Gay was hired as the Stock Show Rodeo’s senior stock producer 40 years ago in 1979.