Retired from full-time PRCA action and raising three kids with his wife, 10-time NFR header Charly Crawford is excited to drive from Stephenville, Texas, down to Rodeo Corpus Christi on May 6-8 to rope for big WCRA money with Whitney DeSalvo. At press time, the pair looked to have had enough points to get a bye into Corpus’ progressive round of just 27 teams, from which nine will advance into the $56,000 final performance.

“After the American, I just pulled up because I have things to do at home,” said Charly. “I roped all winter with Doug [Rich] and got qualified for Corpus with Billie Jack [Saebens]. Whitney had called me. When I found out those two hadn’t nominated enough stuff to enter, I called her back and asked, ‘Are you ready to win that sucker?’”

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The Tight Rope Through the Handle with Charly Crawford

DeSalvo attained her points courtesy of nominating two amateur rodeos and three all-girl ropings (which she commonly enters with Charly’s wife, Jackie). She’d been excited to have kept her top-four ranking, but was dejected prior to Crawford’s call when she learned the byes awarded to the top four are based on combined points after partners are chosen. She’d have to land somebody high up in the heading standings to actually use her bye.

“I’m not out there roping with those guys, so they don’t see me rope,” she said. “I know if it were me, I wouldn’t just enter with somebody that I don’t see rope every day.”

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As for Crawford, who has helped five different heelers qualify for their first NFR, he said that “letting the world see what she can do will be kind of fun.” The veteran header still has his good bay horse, Sailor, as well as the horse he calls Cotton and a BFI-experienced younger brother to the horse called Nasty that he sold to Kaleb Driggers.

“I’m fairly well-mounted for a guy who’s not going anywhere,” he said. “But the WCRA is right up my alley because I can still hang with ‘em here and there. I’m a little bit hindered not practicing as much, but if I can practice before a major like I did for the American, it gives me a chance.”

Short setups are more DeSalvo’s wheelhouse than the BFI, where she and Clint Wallace cracked out with a slipped leg and a barrier at the outset last month. She’s never roped with an NFR header over a knife-fight scoreline, and is plenty relieved that it will be behind Charly, she said.

Hand Position Through Your Swing with Whitney DeSalvo

“I’ve roped around Jackie since I was, gosh, 16 years old, so Charly’s seen me from the ground up,” she said. “And he’s always been my favorite go-to for advice about the mental game. He’s so positive. He has such a good horse and rides him so well. Most of the places I’ve watched Charly, even going fast, he just looks so easy to heel behind. I’m very thankful.”

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