By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
As the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo hit the halfway point Monday night, the saddle bronc cowboys showed the race for the gold buckle in Las Vegas is still heating up.
Following up his brother’s win from two nights earlier, Sterling Crawley scored an 89 aboard Frontier Rodeo’s Medicine Woman and became the fifth different round winner at the Thomas & Mack Center, good enough to earn the $26,230 payday. Three cowboys shared second-place money — $15,795 each – with 87.5 points, including defending champion Zeke Thurston, fellow Canadian Layton Green, and Brody Cress.
Milford’s Jesse Wright, the 2012 world champion, picked up his first payday in only his second scoring ride of the WNFR, an 86.5 aboard Tokyo Bubbles from the Calgary Stampede. Wright earned $6,769 for finishing fifth.
Rounding out those who earned money, Round 1 winner Hardy Braden and Round 4 winner Ryder Wright tied for sixth Monday with 85.5 points, good for $2,115 each. Wright maintained the No. 4 spot in the standings, improved his season money total to $174,092 and moved within $12,484 of brother-in-law CoBurn Bradshaw.
Through five rounds, Thurston moved past Bradshaw into second place with $199,917. Despite failing to cash a check for the second straight night, Bradshaw still scored 84 points on his Round 5 ride aboard Gone Country.
The Beaver resident kept his hold on the top spot in the average with 421.5 points on five head, but saw his lead shrink to just 3.5 points over Cress. Sterling Crawley is only five points behind in third.
Action from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo continues Tuesday at 8 p.m. and can be seen live on CBS Sports Network.