Jeff Medlin is a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo veteran. He heeled for Mike Macy in 1991, and Bret Boatright in 1996. But his son, Logan Medlin—who with Charly Crawford on the heading side was 3.8 to take the Round-7 victory lap last night—is an NFR rookie. And that makes Jeff an NFR rookie dad. Proud pop Jeff was in the Globe Life Field house for the first six rounds. But he ran home to check on the ranch in Tatum, New Mexico, yesterday. So with wife Lisa in Stephenville looking after Logan and Breely’s baby girl, Kamryn, Jeff watched Round 7 with just Jack Russell Terrier Scooter from his living-room La-Z-Boy.
“I think I might have blown the roof off the top of the ranch house, like they did there at Globe life,” Jeff confessed with a grin, while driving back to Texas this morning. “Nobody was there with me but my dog, and I think I kind of scared him. He’s not used to whooping and hollering from me.”
But did you cry?
“I’m not going to say I’m a bawl baby, but I might have welled up a little bit,” he admitted. “How can you keep from it?”
Fair enough. I know you talk to Logan every day. Tell us about that first phone call last night.
“Logan called me as soon as he got back to his phone after the victory lap and arena interview,” Jeff said. “He already had 58 text messages on his phone. He said that moment was all he ever thought it would be. He’d run that steer a thousand times in his mind, and that feeling of being at the NFR, being 3 and hearing the roar of the crowd was just as amazing as he’d imagined all these years when he was dreaming about it.”
What did you say to him after he missed that first steer?
“I just told him to stay aggressive,” Jeff said. “Logan throws fast. That’s what he does, and he doesn’t miss very many. I said I’d take the same throw again. And he has been. He hasn’t changed anything, and he’s roped really well from the second round on.”
What did you say to him on that call last night?
“I think the first thing I said was, ‘WOOHOO!’” Jeff said. “The older you get, the emotional moments are just more emotional. I know how hard he works at it. Sometimes it’s hard to watch your kid work so hard and have delayed results. You sometimes start to wonder when they’ll get validation for all the hard work they put into it. Logan’s a grinder. He absolutely works at it as hard as anybody I know. You sometimes wonder when it’s going to be our turn. When it is your turn, ‘Wow.’
“Logan was the college champ a couple times. But that was all a stepping stone to get to where he is now. To make the NFR was his biggest goal. To win that round at this point in the rodeo, after they’ve been struggling most of the week, might have been unexpected. That’s what makes it even more emotional.”
So is it easier to heel at the Finals or to watch your son do it?
“It’s far more nerve-wracking for me to watch him than it was for me when I roped,” Jeff said. “Mainly because I know his mindset. Logan’s all business. He’s never been the heeler who showed up late or unprepared. He’s diligent about his preparation, his practice and his horsemanship. He studies it like nobody I’ve ever seen, and he’s always been that kid.
“When Logan was playing football and basketball in high school, he wasn’t the biggest kid. But he was always in the zone on whatever sport he was playing. He might be laid back outside of the arena, but Logan’s the most competitive person I’ve ever met. He’ll look at videos of runs, and he’s anal about breaking it down and figuring out what he can do better. He’s obviously gifted, but he’s not naturally as gifted as a lot of other guys. When he wins, it’s from his work ethic. If you’re striving for longevity, your work ethic has to become habit until it becomes second nature to work hard at it every day. We all just want good things for our kids. I could not be more proud of mine (and that also goes for Logan’s little sister, Abby).” TRJ