FORT WORTH, Texas (February 9, 2019) — Courtesy Johna Cravens – As the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo closed out its 76th and final year in Will Rogers Coliseum, it was only fitting that Texas cowboys turned in record-setting performances.
Justin Shaffer of Hallsville qualified for the championship finals round in 12th place, so he was the first steer wrestler to compete. He promptly set the pace with a 3.1-second run. That was not only the fastest time at the 2019 rodeo. It was the fastest since record-keeping began in 1950 by one-tenth of a second.
Shaffer held the steer wrestling overall lead with 12.9 seconds until the final two men took their turns. Josh Clark of Belgrade, Montana, used a 4.2-second run to take the overall lead with 12.5. Moments later Stephen Culling of Fort Saint John, British Columbia, who held the number one spot when the finals began, matched Clark’s overall time. They tied for the championship, the first tie at the Fort Worth rodeo since bareback riding world champs Kaycee Feild and Will Lowe tied in 2012.
Clark credited “the little gray horse I ride and Jule Hazen, a great hazer to have on the other side” for his win. Culling said his mare was a bit nervous in the box. “She’s young and this is a big crowd for her. I just wanted to get a good start.” The Canadian steer wrestler also said that winning this rodeo and the $5,000 cash bonus each winner receives was a dream come true.
For the second consecutive year a cowboy named Crawley won the saddle bronc riding title and this year he did it in record-breaking fashion. Sterling Crawley of Stephenville, whose older brother Jacobs won the championship last year, was tied with former world champion Zeke Thurston for the lead coming into the finals. After Thurston tallied 255 total points with an 87-point ride, Crawley needed to match that score to share the title.
He did one better, scoring 88 points on Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Delta Dawn and tallying 256 total points. He also set a new Fort Worth record, besting Jake Wright’s 255.5 set in 2017.
Crawley and Culling were the only rodeo athletes to hold their first-place positions and win 2019 championships.
Bareback rider Ty Breuer was fourth overall when the night began, despite not earning prize money in the first two rounds. He came close to tying the record for highest single-round score of 90 points, when he rode Championship Pro Rodeo’s horse River Bugs for 89.5. That gave him a total of 336.5 and the championship.
Tie-down roper Marty Yates of Stephenville, Texas, also came into the finals in fourth place. He and last year’s Fort Worth champion Shane Hanchey of Sulphur, La., both stopped the clock in 8.9 seconds to tie for first in the finals. Yates overall time of 26.6 gave him the championship and the largest paycheck of any cowboy this year – $15,919 plus the $5,000 cash bonus.
The biggest winner of the rodeo was 2018 World Champion Barrel Racer Haley Kinsel of Cotulla, Texas. Kinsel did not place in the first round, but won the second round, and came into the finals in third. She and her palomino mare, DM Sissy Hayday that she calls Sister won the finals with a time of 16.36. Sydni Blanchard of Pueblo, Colo., the overall leader when the night began, was the last cowgirl to ride. Her horse Famous Heartbreaker stumbled on the first turn taking her out of contention.
Kinsel’s total time of 49.37 earned her the championship, $16,771 in prize money and the $5,000 cash bonus.
Only two bull riders were able to stick on the backs of their bulls for the full eight seconds. J.T. Moore of Alvin, Texas, was the first qualified ride, scoring 88 points on J Bar J’s bull named Nixon. The next to ride was Foster McCraw of Grimes, Texas. McCraw, who was third overall coming into the finals, rode Rafter G Rodeo’s Chosin One for 90 points to secure the championship.
Adam Rose of Willard, Missouri, and Jett Hillman of McAlester, Okla., earned the team roping championship. Their 5.9-second run in the finals was only good enough for fourth, but their total of 16.3 was fastest overall by two-tenths of a second. They moved into first place after ranking second when the night began.
A highlight of the final performance was a video tribute covering the 76-year history of rodeo in Will Rogers Coliseum.
Next year the World’s Original Indoor Rodeo moves into the new Dickies Arena on the south edge of the complex and Will Rogers Coliseum will host other equine and livestock events
Bareback Riding – Ty Breuer, Mandan, N. D., 336.5 points, $8,829
Steer Wrestling – Josh Clark, Belgrade, Montana, 12.5, $14,590
and Stephen Culling, Fort Saint John, British Columbia, 12.5, $14,525
Team Roping – Adam Rose, Willard, Mo., and
Jett Hillman, McAlester, Okla., 16.3 seconds, $8,646 each
Saddle Bronc Riding – Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, Texas, 256 points, $12,989
Tie-Down Roping – Marty Yates, Stephenville, Texas, 26.6 seconds. $15,919
Barrel Racing – Haley Kinzel, Cotulla, Texas, 49.37 seconds, $16,771
Bull Riding – Foster McCraw, Grimes, Texas, 254 points, $14,910