Logan Medlin looks, acts and ropes just like his handsome, humble, handy Wrangler National Finals Rodeo dad, Jeff. And in those three categories plus a few more—also including the loyal husband, dad and friend departments—I can think of no greater compliment. In the spring of 1991, I spent a few days with my buddy Jeff Medlin and his partner Mike Macy in Farmington, New Mexico. Jeff was pacing the streets and climbing the walls waiting to rope at the rodeo, so he could hurry home for the birth of his first baby. That baby—Logan—is all grown up now, and in the same year his own first baby was born has a date with destiny at his first Finals in 2020.
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Heeling for Charly Crawford, Logan is currently ranked fourth in the world heeling standings. With what’s left on the table to win in this regular season that’s been crazed by coronavirus and all the curveballs and guidelines that come with a global pandemic, it’s unanimous that his ticket to the 2020 NFR is already punched. But Logan’s a Medlin, so he’s taking nothing for granted before the official September 30th NFR cut.
“A lot of people have congratulated me and told me I’ve got it made, but I’m trying not to even think about that,” said Medlin, 29, who grew up in Tatum, New Mexico, and now lives in Stephenville, Texas, with his wife, Breely, and baby girl, Kamryn Lee, who was born on May 8. “It may or may not be wrapped up, but I’m not going to allow myself to think like that.
“I’m in a good spot right now, but I’d love to tack another $10,000 onto my standings. Then I’d feel a lot better about it. I just don’t want to get too wrapped up in it being done when it’s not over yet. I’ve missed it by just a couple spots before (he finished 17th in 2016, when he roped with Pace Freed, then Billy Bob Brown). Anything can happen, so you can’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.”
Logan has stair-stepped his way to this point on rodeo’s biggest stages. He won three-straight New Mexico High School Rodeo state team roping titles from 2008-10, and won back-to-back National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association championships with Brown at the College National Finals Rodeo in 2013-14.
Why is 2020 shaping up to be the breakthrough year for Logan, who also owns and manages family rental properties in Stephenville?
“Charly has turned a ton of steers,” said Medlin “The bottom line is I’ve gotten to throw a lot. Charly has roped outstanding.
“Charly said this was the best winter he’s ever had. Then COVID-19 hit, and it stunk, because we were on such a roll when it happened. Then that first weekend we came back was Coleman and Mesquite, Texas, and Woodward, Oklahoma, and we placed at all three.”
[Read: How Charly Crawford and Logan Medlin won the Wildfire XXII Open to the World]
In hindsight, there have been several silver linings on top of his imminent first NFR qualification to this rather unpredictable rodeo season.
“For six or eight weeks after rodeo shut down in March, nobody knew if we were even going to get to start back up this year,” said Medlin, who shared his rookie year with the likes of Junior Nogueira in 2014. “Some thought we’d be back full tilt by Reno, which didn’t happen. We were all in limbo. I went and got some outside horses to ride, and roped a lot. I didn’t touch my good horse (Drago) for two months. That’s the longest break he’s had in years.”
Logan considers winning The American Semifinals in Fort Worth and roping at The American in Dallas as a couple of favorite highlights so far in his 2020 rodeo season. He won the Semifinals with Nelson Wyatt and finished fifth with Crawford, so he roped with Wyatt at The American. Logan’s sister, Abby, who works as hard as he does when she’s home, qualified for The American in the breakaway roping. Talk about a dream rodeo for Lisa and Jeff Medlin, who roped at the 1991 NFR with Macy and 1996 NFR with Bret Boatright, and also won rodeo’s only five-header at the California Rodeo in Salinas the year Logan was born.
If the regular season ended today, Logan would be one of seven first-time National Finalists in the team roping field. Wyatt, Jeff Flenniken and Andrew Ward would be “in” as headers, and Levi Lord, Paden Bray and Jake Edwards would join Logan on the heeling side.
“Some of the top guys—the select few who make it every year—might allow themselves to acknowledge that they have the Finals made,” Logan said. “But the rest of us will believe it when we see it and the regular season’s over.”
This’ll be Crawford’s 10th NFR back number.
“Charly’s a veteran,” Logan said. “And he’s got good horses, which is definitely more than half the battle. He’s been doing this a long time, and he scores good, takes good throws and turns a ton of steers. That makes things a lot easier on me. As a heeler, if you’re only turning in on one of every five steers, it’s hard to get a groove going.”
Hard work and humility are Medlin family cornerstones. He’s also hoping with the rest of us that this year’s NFR will come through with a strong end to a tough road.
“I feel like I’ve gotten better every year, and I still have a long way to go,” Logan said. “I hope the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) and Vegas can come together and come up with something that makes sense for the cowboys and our entire sport. This is our livelihood, and this year has not been easy on anyone.
“I hope the guys who’ve stayed out there rodeoing will be rewarded for it. I went to five rodeos over the Fourth of July, and had to fly twice to get it done. We’ve all traveled more miles to get to fewer rodeos and rope for less money this year. We’ve all spent more money trying to make the Finals, and trusting that something big is coming at the end of the year. The bottom line for all of us who rodeo for a living is putting food on the table for our families.”