Caleb Hendrix, of Fallon, Nevada, has taken off in the Resistol Rookie Heeling race with a more than $18,000 lead on Cole Curry.
Hendrix, who turned 22 on Aug. 19, is heeling for two-time NFR heeler Quinn Kesler, who is now heading. Despite a slow start to their Pro Rodeo season, they are nearing NFR contention with Kesler sitting 17th in the PRCA World Standings with $41,079.66 in season earnings, and Hendrix at 19th with $37,031.66, which is more than $6,000 behind 15th-place Cole Davison.
“It’s a crazy feeling. It was crazy when I was 49th for the first time ever earlier in the summer,” Hendrix said. “We weren’t even thinking NFR because we didn’t start rodeoing until June. Our goal was just to get me the Rookie [title] and, hopefully, Top 30 or 35 [in the world] to get into the winter rodeos next year and then try [for the NFR.] Quinn looked at me and said, ‘We’re making the little yellow building, or at least we’re going to dang-sure try.’”
Over the week of Aug. 10–15, Kesler and Hendrix added a total of $13,358, after winning the Summit County Fair & Rodeo in Coalville, Utah, and picking up checks at the Cache County Fair & Rodeo in Logan, Utah; the Missoula (Montana) Stampede, the Farm-City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston, Oregon; and the Jerome (Idaho) County Fair and Rodeo.
“We changed our attitude from ‘Go fast,’ and we changed our motto to ‘Just catch,’ and it seemed to work out a lot better for us,” Hendrix said. “The thing we learned is that our ‘Just catch’ is still a 4. You don’t have to win; you just have to out-place guys at this point.”
Before the duo kicked their team into high gear, the year started out rough for Hendrix. In October of 2020, he nearly cut his thumb off while roping and had to undergo surgery. Then, this March, he endured the passing of his brother, Cord Hendrix, 23, to a head-on collision in Arizona.
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a rough year,” Hendrix admitted. “Between coming back from roping and my brother passing, it’s been a lot. I’d say the best part about this year, though, is that we’re having something positive come out of it. I have a lot of family and friends in my corner, and my parents, especially.”
Hendrix also lost his sister, Rachel, to a carbon monoxide poisoning accident in her living quarters trailer in 2014, when she was just 18 years old.
“My family has been through a lot, but at least this year we have some positive coming out of it with me having a decent summer rodeoing,” Hendrix said.
He’s certain his sister and brother are cheering for him, too.
“When my sister passed, I won State that year. It was kind of a cool, crazy come-from-behind story. You kind of get that guardian angel feeling in moments like that. That’s kind of how I feel this year with my brother. I know he was my biggest fan—him and my dad. I know that he would be so proud. Hopefully, if I make the NFR, I know that he’ll be up there watching me.”
With a handful of rodeos left, Kesler and Hendrix are keeping their “Just catch” motto and seeing where they finish in the standings.