By: Kendra Santos
“Making this money available for us to win helps us make a living, and at the same time gives us a chance and a stage to make a name for ourselves.”
~ Shorty Garrett
GUTHRIE, Oklahoma—Every event here at the $500,000 World Champions Rodeo Alliance Semi-Finals at the Lazy E Arena is stacked with storylines. The top four saddle bronc riders from one pool alone in yesterday’s progressive round—who advanced to today’s Championship Sunday—are prime examples. World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Jacobs Crawley edged little brother Sterling by just half a point, college cowboy Jarrod Hammons was third and Shorty Garrett, who’s a descendent of the legendary Casey Tibbs and ProRodeo Hall of Fame bareback riding brothers Marvin and Mark Garrett, finished fourth.
Jacobs, who’s 30, qualified for the last eight straight Wrangler National Finals Rodeos. He wears the gold buckle he won with the 2015 World Saddle Bronc Riding Championship and lives in Boerne, Texas. He travels with Sterling, and if you’re suspecting any sibling rivalry here, forget about it.
“We go to 120 rodeos a year, and finishing 1-2 is always a great day,” Jacobs said. “I won first and Sterling won second at the rodeo in Vernon, Texas, last week. The week before that, Sterling won the rodeo in Crockett, Texas, and I won second. We’re only about $1,000 apart in the world standings right now, so it really is kind of a wash. Which one of us ends up ahead of the other just depends on the day and the draw.”
With such a hectic schedule, the Crawley Brothers make a point to do whatever it takes to get in on the new money offered contestants by the WCRA.
“You can win $11,000 here and $50,000 in Green Bay (Wisconsin, where the next $1 million major, the Titletown Stampede, will be held on June 1),” Jacobs said. “That’s a pretty good day’s work at two rodeos.”
Sterling’s 27, and is a five-year veteran of the NFR—2012-13 and 2016-18.
“The WCRA proved themselves (at this year’s first $1 million major) in Chicago (in January),” said Sterling, who currently hangs his hat in Huntsville, Texas. “They have a good, fair format and they pay well, so the cowboys are enjoying it and you aren’t going to hear any complaints.”
Jarrod Hammons is a 21-year-old junior ag business major at Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas.
“The WCRA is a great deal for rodeo, because it adds diversity and new money to our sport,” said Hammons, who is next month headed to Casper, Wyoming, to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo. “The WCRA helps us cowboys make a living doing this. For a young guy like me—who grew up watching guys like Jacobs and Sterling ride—it’s also pretty cool to have a place to ride against them for big money.”
Shorty Garrett of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is 26. And there are two clues to his royal rodeo roots in that last sentence. The last name Garrett typically rings a bareback riding bell, because his uncles Marvin and Mark Garrett are both world champs and ProRodeo Hall of Famers in that event. Shorty’s dad is the third Garrett brother, Juan.
Shorty’s mom, Johnilyn, brings the familiar bronc riding hometown of Eagle Butte, South Dakota—which is also the original home of World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Tom Reeves—to the table. Her brother, the late T.C. Holloway, died at 24 in a tragic road accident in the summer of 2001. But not before riding—and placing in six of 10 rounds—at the 2000 NFR. And not before leaving a memorable mark on his nephew Shorty.
“I never did try bareback riding,” said Shorty, who’s also a great great nephew to the legendary six-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and ProRodeo Hall of Famer Casey Tibbs. “I was only in third grade when he died, but I really looked up to T.C. and he was a mentor to me.”
As for the WCRA, “This is a great deal for us guys who haven’t made a name for ourselves yet,” Garrett said. “Making this money available for us to win helps us make a living, and at the same time gives us a chance and a stage to make a name for ourselves.”