LAS VEGAS – When he isn’t roping at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Ryan Jarrett is watching it.
“Calf roping and barrel racing are two of the most watched events at the NFR,” said Jarrett, an eight-time qualifier who grew up in Summerville, Ga., and now lives in Comanche, Okla. “The crowd loves it, and it’s good watching.
“It’ll get your motor running.”
The cowboy’s motor has been running for nine straight nights, placing five times, including two go-round victories – he won the eighth round with a 6.7-second run, and shared the fourth-round win victory with six-time champ Cody Ohl.
On Friday night, Jarrett outlasted a tough calf for a 7.8-second run and a third-place finish in the ninth go-round. It added $11,118 to his NFR payroll, which has surpassed $67,000.
“I’ve had two or three calves I should’ve won money on,” he said. “I’m not saying they were calves to win first on, but they were dang sure something you could place third or fourth on. I’ve left money on the table.”
That’s not a good thing in Las Vegas. That’s why his run was so vital Friday night.
“I got all of the barrier you could possibly get,” Jarrett said, referring to the rope in front of the timed-event chute that is released when the calf is allowed its appropriate head start – had he been a split second sooner, he would’ve suffered a 10-second penalty.
The calf didn’t have a great track record. In previous runs, the animal would run toward the roper instead of staying at the end of the rope, so the Oklahoma cowboy had a game plan to stop that from happening.
“I wanted to be in her face when she swapped around,” he said. “I got a great start, got her turned around to the outside. I got everything set up for a decent flank, then I bobbled a little and didn’t get her strung the first time.”
In the matter of moments, Jarrett debated the appropriate tie: a full two wraps and a half hitch to secure it or gamble with one wrap and the half-hitch.
“I went ahead with two, and I’m glad I did,” he said. “She sure tried the tie during the six seconds.”
In addition to a head start, the animal is allowed six seconds after the run to make sure the tie is secured; should the calf kick free, the contestant is saddled with a no time.
He’ll hope for the best case scenario in Saturday’s 10th go-round when he makes the final run of the 2013 campaign.
“I hope I draw a good calf and win some money,” Jarrett said, noting that he had moved to eighth in the all-important average race after Ohl suffered a 29.5-second run in the ninth round. “It would be great to get two checks (in the round and the average) from the 10th round.”