HEMPSTEAD, Texas – There really aren’t many rodeos across the United States that Bradley Harter hasn’t won.
He just wrapped up his 17th season in ProRodeo, closing out the campaign last weekend by finishing 12th in the world standings with $99,351. He began the 2020 regular season by sharing the saddle bronc riding victory at the Waller County Fair and Rodeo; he also won the crown in 2016.
He rode Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Life of Riley for 82 points to share the title with brothers Jacobs and Sterling Crawley, who matched that score on Friday night. Each man pocketed $1,403 that counts toward the National Finals Rodeo that will take place in 14 months.
“This is a great rodeo; I love coming here,” said Harter, 38, of Loranger, Louisiana. “We’re coming off a dramatic ending to 2019, so this is more of a relaxing environment. You get a good start to the next year, but you keep getting on great horses and go to a great rodeo that pays really well.”
Harter and the Crawleys have other business to tend to before focusing on the 2020 campaign too much. Each man has qualified for the 2019 NFR based on their finish through the regular season, which concluded Sept. 30. This marks Harter’s 11th qualification to ProRodeo’s grand finale, which features only the top 15 in each event in a rugged test of talent and guts over 10 nights in December.
“For me, I like getting on three to four (horses) a week, so I like to keep my subconscious sharp and my body loose,” he said. “I say trust your stuff, so I get on good horses, and I can trust my ride instead of going into the NFR cold.
“The Crawleys are tough to beat; they’re great bronc riders. That’s another great thing about this rodeo; you’re still competing against great guys on great stock. There was a line of cars to get in, so you know it’s a great rodeo.”
Though he’s nine years younger than Harter, Cory Solomon from nearby Prairie View, Texas, is every bit as veteran. He was raised in Waller County, and he has made hundreds of runs inside the rodeo arena at the Waller County Fairgrounds. This is his hometown rodeo, and on the final night of this year’s event, he roped and tied his calf in 8.8 seconds to finish in a tie for fifth place, with $910.
“This rodeo is very important to me,” said Solomon, 29, a six-time NFR qualifier. “You’ve got people that don’t understand rodeo that you with to high school with, and they come out to watch. One of my biggest sponsors is Sim-Tex, and they come out to watch. It’s one of those rodeos that your family and friends come out to watch. It’s almost the hardest rodeo to win, because you want to do good.”
That’s the inner-pressure that comes from wanting to be at one’s best in front of hundreds of people excited to see a local cowboy do well.
“Everybody’s so supportive, so I try to my best every time I come to town.”
Actually, Solomon has spent a considerable amount of 2019 in Waller County. He suffered an injury to his hand at the 2018 NFR, which kept him sidelined until March. Things didn’t get much better as the season went on.
“I’m at about 80 percent,” he said. “I missed a lot of good rodeos. I started back up trying to make up early this summer, and I was doing OK and hurt my knee. Everything happens for a reason.”
Though disappointed he wasn’t competing, he focused on what he could do. In the process of rest and rehabilitation, Solomon found something that might help him make a big change in the 2020 season.
“I was pretty blessed to find another really good horse out of Brazil, that I’ll get in about a week,” Solomon said. “I’m pretty close to being heeled up with possibly the best horsepower I’ve ever had, so 2020 is the most excited I’ve been in my life.
“I feel like I spent more time at home this year than ever. I’ve never had roping taken away from me. I’ve not won, but I can always figure out a way to get back to winning. When you absolutely cannot rope, it’s another battle that I’ve had to fight this year. Hopefully it makes me stronger than I am right now.”
Waller County Fair and Rodeo
All-around cowboy: Clay Smith, $4,388 in steer roping and team roping.
Bareback riding: 1. Yance Day, 85 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s YoYo, $1,884; 2. (tie) Win Ratliff and Zach Hibler, 84, $1,256 each; 4. Paden Hurst, 691; 5. (tie) Craig Wisehart and Cole Reiner, 82, $377 each; 7. (tie) Waylon Guy Bourgeois and Anthony Thomas, 79, $220 each.
Steer wrestling: 1. Cody Doescher, 4.0 seconds, $2,356; 2. Dylan Schroeder, 4.2, $2,049; 3. (tie) Payden McIntyre and Jacob Edler, 4.5, $1,583 each; 5. (tie) Kalane Anders and Ben Goodman Jr., 4.6, $873; 7. (tie) Heath Thomas, Levi Rudd and Chase Crane, 4.7, $239 each.
Team roping: 1. Dustin Egusquiza/Jake Long, 3.8 seconds, $3,264; 2. Lane Ivy/Dillon Wingereid, 4.4, $2,920; 3. Garett Chick/Walt Woodard, 4.5, $2,577; 4. (tie) Mason Boettcher/Ty Arnold and Clay Smith/Jade Corkill, 4.6, $2,061 each; 6. (tie) Reno Cash Stoebner/Colton Brittain and Cody Snow/Travis Graves, 4.7, $1,374 each; 7. (tie) Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins II, Andrew Livingston/Seth Smithson and Tate Kirchenschlager/Ross Ashford, 5.0, $515 each.
Saddle bronc riding: 1. (tie) Jacobs Crawley, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Mike and Ike, Sterling Crawley, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Brown Eyed Girl, and Bradley Harter, on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Life of Riley, $1,403, 82 points; 4. Wyatt Casper, 78, $674; 5. Jarrod Hammons, 76, $429; 6. (tie) Logan Hay, Dean Wadsworth and Roper Kiesner, 75, $245 each.
Tie-down roping leaders: 1. Marcos Costa, 8.4 seconds, $2,616; 2. (tie) Clint Singleton, 8.5, $2,275; 3. Blane Cox, 8.6, $1,934; 4. Sy Felton, 8.7, $1,592; 5. (tie) Cory Solomon, Tanner Green and Tyler Prcin, 8.8, $910 each; 8. (tie) Charlie Gibson and Hudson Wallace, 8.9, $114 each.
Barrel racing leaders: Kelly Bruner, 15.27 seconds, $2,750; 2. Shelley Morgan, 15.42, $2,338; 3. Jill Wilson, 15.48, $1,925; 4. (tie) Amanda Cupp and Lauren Davang, 15.54, $1,513 each; 6. Michelle Alley, 15.55, $963; 7. Stephanie Fryar, 15.60, $688; 8. Jimmie Smith, 15.63, $550; 9. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.64, $481; 10. (tie) Ashley Castleberry and Abby Phillips, 15.65, $378 each; 12. (tie) Taryn Boxleitner and Jessi Fish, 15.66, $138 each.
Steer roping: First round: 1. Clay Smith, 9.2 seconds, $1,163; 2. Bryce Davis, 9.6, $963; 3. John E. Bland, 10.3, $762; 4. Kyle Cauthorn, 11.0, $561; 5. (tie) Jason Evans, Cole Patterson and Chet Herren, 11.6, $187 each. Second round: 1. Clay Smith, 10.6 seconds, $1,163; 2. (tie) Vin Fisher Jr., Will McBride and Cody Lee, 11.1, $762 each; 5. Jason Stockton, 11.2, $361; 6. Brodie Poppino, 11.4, $201. Third round: 1. (tie) Cole Evans and Tuf Cooper, 9.6 seconds, $1,063 each; 3. Brian Garr, 9.7, $762; 4. Thomas Smith, 9.8, $561; 5. (tie) Tony Reina, Clay Long and J. Tom Fisher, 10.0, $187 each. Average: 1. Chet Herren, 35.1 seconds on three head, $1,745; 2. Billy Good, 36.3, $1,444; 3. Bryce Davis, 36.5, $1,143; 4. J. Tom Fisher, 36.7, $842; 5. Vin Fisher Jr., 38.6, $541; 6. John E. Bland, 38.7, $301.
Bull riding: 1. Brady Portenier, 84.5 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s No. -501, $2,432; 2. (tie) Jeff Askey and Creek Young, 82, $1,651 each; 4. Laramie Mosley, 81, $949; 5. (tie) Jacob O’Mara and J.T. Moore, 80, $559 each; no other qualified rides.