78°F
weather icon Clear

Tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett thrives in final NFR spot

Updated December 13, 2018 - 2:37 pm

Going into the final week of the PRCA’s regular season, in late September, there’s nothing more stomach-churning than being on the bubble. One round of riding or roping, out of as many as 100 or more all year long, could be the difference between punching your ticket to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo or getting an early start on next season.

Ryan Jarrett is quite familiar with that situation. The tie-down roper from Summerville, Georgia., qualified for the Wrangler NFR 11 times in 13 years, from 2005 to 2017. But this year, he was very much on the brink.

“I’d been doing the math. I knew at the beginning of September that it would come down to the end,” Jarrett said. “I was playing catch-up the whole time. I had opportunities to close the door, but couldn’t make it happen. I told my wife, ‘You just watch. It’s gonna come down to the last one.’”

Jarrett proved prophetic on that prediction.

“It did come down to the last weekend, in fact the last day,” Jarrett said of his battle with Shane Cox for the final slot. “On Saturday, I roped at the San Bernardino and Poway rodeos in California. Shane and I were at different rodeos Sunday, me at Kingman (Arizona), and him at Stephenville (Texas). When I left the San Bernardino to drive across the desert to Kingman, I was doing the math the whole time. I thought second place would be good enough.

“Shane placed at the rodeo he was at, but my first place at Kingman won out.”

Just barely. Jarrett finished 15th with regular-season earnings of $77,552. Cox was less than $500 behind, at $77,059, a whisker-thin margin in the world of rodeo.

So the 2005 all-around world champion nabbed his 12th trip to Vegas to compete in tie-down roping. It’s the closest shave Jarrett’s had in all his years qualifying to compete at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“I think this is the first time ever that I got in at 15th,” he said. “It’s something I don’t want to experience again. It’s sure enough nerve-wracking, a year banking on one run, to actually go make a little profit out in Vegas.

“It was a big sigh of relief to do it. Like ‘Good Lord, thank God I got that over with!’ I could think about something else besides adding and subtracting.”

Although every cowboy would certainly like to qualifier higher — much higher, to be honest — there has been a good part about qualifying 15th. Jarrett entered the 10-day rodeo far behind the leaders, allowing him to take a much more aggressive approach. There’s not as much need to safety up with cautious runs to protect a higher ranking.

“I don’t have anything to lose. I can rope for first every night, and hopefully climb the ladder in the standings,” Jarrett said.

The strategy didn’t work out the first three nights, but Jarrett has come on strong since then, successfully roping four straight calves and cashing in the fifth, sixth and seventh go-rounds. In Monday’s fifth go, Jarrett clocked 7.5 seconds to finish in a three-way tie for first and collect $20,872. Tuesday night, he split second and third in 7.8 seconds for another $18,192, and he went 7.8 again Wednesday to take fourth and claim $11,000.

Add to that the $10,000 bonus each Wrangler NFR qualifier receives, and it’s actually been a pretty good week for Jarrett. The 34-year-old cowboy has $60,064 in NFR winnings through six go-rounds, moving up to 10th in the season-long world standings at $137,616.

However, because of those bumpy first three nights, Jarrett is out of the running in the NFR average. So tracking down No. 1 Tuf Cooper ($173,749) – who also happens to be the reigning all-around champion – or the other leaders is pretty unlikely.

But at least he’s here, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

“It lets you know that you’re one of the top 15 in the world. You’re one of the best,” Jarrett said. “You’re re-energized that way. Everybody wants to visit with you and talk about it, and every kid is looking up to you. You say to yourself, ‘I must rope pretty decent to be here.’ ”

More NFR: Follow all of our National Finals Rodeo coverage online at reviewjournal.com/nfr and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
2019 NFR comes to Las Vegas in December

The National Finals Rodeo, the season-ending championship for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, will take place from Dec. 5 to 14 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

 
2019 PRCA world standings

Caleb Smidt of Bellville, Texas, is the PRCA all-around leader with earnings of $84,738.46 through June 23. The NFR will be held in Las Vegas from Dec. 5 to 14.

2018 NFR Las Vegas, Day 10 — PHOTOS

The National Finals Rodeo ended its annual 10-day run at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday.

 
2018 NFR Las Vegas 10th go-round results

Here are the National Finals Rodeo tenth and final performance results from Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.

Trevor Brazile wins 14th all-around title in final NFR

Trevor Brazile secured his 14th all-around championship Saturday by winning the final go-round in tie-down roping to finish with $335,679.98 at the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center.