Crouch captures big win at Dixie National Rodeo |

Crouch captures big win at Dixie National Rodeo

This is rarified air for bareback rider Ethan Crouch, and he was enjoying the view from the top of the standings at the Dixie National Rodeo Feb. 17.

The Smiley, Texas, cowboy had an 87.5-point ride on Hi Lo ProRodeo’s Wilson Sanchez to capture the victory at the Mississippi Coliseum.

“This feels absolutely fantastic,” said Crouch, 24. “This is my rookie year, and 2016 has been a wonderful season. To win something like Dixie, right here at the beginning of the year, with a big ride like that on a great horse, is a blessing without a doubt.”

Crouch left town with $5,732 in winnings, and he was trying his best to keep his feet on the ground after the biggest win of his career.

“It’s great to win something big, but I have to keep my momentum going,” Crouch said. “I had been here (at the Dixie National Rodeo) one other time, in 2013, and I had a good horse but I didn’t ride very good. I didn’t want to have a repeat performance. I knew coming into this rodeo I had the one to win it on, and I just wanted to step up and do my job.”

Crouch had never been on Wilson Sanchez before, but he did do his homework on the horse. The horse bucked at the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, and in Round 1 Clint Laye failed to register a score on Wilson Sanchez. In Round 6, the horse bucked off Clint Cannon and gave him a mild traumatic brain injury, forcing him to doctor release out of Rounds 7 and 8.

“I watched video of the horse (from the 2015 WNFR) at my buddy’s house before I came over and rode (Feb. 17),” Crouch said. “That is an outstanding horse and one you dream about getting on as a bareback rider. I knew I had to keep square and keep gassing him. I did my job and everything paid off.”

Crouch’s rodeo career didn’t take off initially because he was coping with the death of his father, Roger Crouch. Roger, a bull rider, died while competing at an unsanctioned rodeo in 2011. He was 51.

“It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what can happen in this sport,” Ethan said about his father’s passing. “It made me realize how much you need to cherish the ones who you love because they are here one day and gone the next. After my dad passed, I started back rodeoing and I was doing all right, but I battled a lot of shoulder injuries. I took time off to let them heal up and I was back riding good, and I figured why not go for it (in 2016).”

Following his Jackson win, Crouch was brimming with confidence.

“I’m trying to make a run to win rookie of the year and make the NFR,” Crouch said. “I want to be in Vegas in December. I want to be standing behind those yellow bucking chutes.”

Other winners at the $198,278 rodeo were all-around cowboy Justin Thigpen ($4,479 in tie-down roping and steer wrestling), steer wrestler Jake Rinehart (7.6 seconds on two head), team ropers Mark “Tee” Luttrell and Clay Sieber (8.5 seconds on two head), saddle bronc riders Jake Wright (87 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Resistols Top Hat) and CoBurn Bradshaw (87 points on Three Hills Rodeo’s Prom Nite), tie-down roper Justin Thigpen (16.7 seconds on two head), barrel racer Cassidy Kruse (15.44 seconds) and bull rider Roscoe Jarboe (89.5 points on Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Pistol).

Bull rider Brett Stall, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier (2012, 2015), is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks while he recovers from left ankle surgery. The two-hour surgery took place Feb. 8 at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes (Minn.) hospital and was primarily focused on healing an infection that developed in Stall’s ankle. The source of the infection was a plate and nine screws that were put in his broken left leg following a bull riding accident in June 2011 at Bellevue, Iowa. After competing at the PRCA Championship Rodeo in Bismarck, N.D., Feb. 6, the pain became too much for Stall to handle. He left Bismarck and drove home to Detroit Lakes, Minn., and Feb. 8 he checked into the hospital. Stall didn’t leave the hospital until Feb. 11, and is now recovering at home. “I have to be hooked up to antibiotics three times a day through a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line for six weeks,” Stall said. “I have a PICC line in my arm so I can’t ride, probably until at least the first of April. This thing should heal itself; they are just trying to kill the infection. I can walk around and put weight on my ankle and foot and everything with no problem. This is something you don’t want to mess around with. You just want to do your time so you can get back in business.”


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