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Youth heading to National Junior Rodeo Finals

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Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 2:20 pm

Nov. 8-10, Lance Lara, 7, and Foster McCraw, 14, of Navasota will be traveling to Shawnee, Okla., to represent the state of Texas and the Texas Youth Rough Stock Association at the National Junior Rodeo Finals, but this isn’t their first rodeo.

Lara has been earning awards since he was five – 21 buckles and two saddles to date.

“From the very beginning he was hooked,” said mom Deanna Lara about Lance’s rodeo start.

Lance started mutton busting when he was five and quickly won 17 buckles in the event and one 2010 Mutton Bustin Champ saddle. He then moved up to calves and junior steers and has collected four more buckles and a 2012 Finals Champion Calf Rider saddle.

Foster also started on the rodeo circuit at a young age.

“I rode my first sheep at Grimes County at age three, but I quit because he kicked me in the nose,” said the now 14-year-old McCraw, who will be a freshman at Navasota High School this fall.

At age five, McCraw returned to competition and hasn’t looked back since.

“I saw it on T.V. and wanted to do it. And everybody in my family rodeos,” said McCraw, who is the son of Julie Hathorn of Navasota and Sam McCraw of Grapeland.

McCraw said her son is the first family member to ride bulls, and actually started out riding on a bucking bull riding toy at the age of two. Over a seven-year span, McCraw has won approximately 40 buckles.

This year, McCraw not only took ninth in World Finals, but also won first place in senior steers at the Texas Youth Rough Stock. This was the second time he has qualified to compete in the World Finals, but his first time to have the ability to do so. McCraw also joined the Texas High School Rodeo Association, where he is currently sitting in first place. Many thanks to local sponsors: Kolkhorst Petroleum, Inhoff Ranch, Team of Navasota, Jeff Nobles, and Ving Card Elsafe of Dallas.

Lara has been a three-time world finals qualifier - twice in sheep, where he took thirtieth and fourth overall; and once in calves, where he took twelfth overall out of 45 riders.

“I want to get two more saddles this year and we’re fixing to make a saddle room,” said Lance.

Lance will be competing in three separate associations this year – the Texas Youth Rough Stock, the Young Bull Riders, and the Youth Rodeo Association.

“What he has at his young age is God given talent,” said Lance’s dad, T.J. “There may always be guys who are talented; you have to work harder than the next guy. But he wants to push; he is harder on himself than anyone else is.”

At age eight, McCraw said he moved on to junior steer riding.

“And that’s all it took. It scared me to death, although I’m more scared now. We did whatever he wanted. You have to support him – especially when it’s something he’s good at,” said Mrs. McCraw, who said though her son now competes in the senior steer division, he practices riding bulls at home.

McCraw was promoted to senior steer riding at age twelve, and took a two-year hiatus before returning to his passion for bull riding.

“It was such a big jump, he took a break. And when he came back, he was on fire!” declared his mother.

Cowboy up

Injuries are a fact of life for steer and bull riders; Lara and Foster have both experienced the pain and disappointment of a ride that ends badly.

Lara had a wreck in March that “busted his noggin,” when a calf’s horns penetrated square openings on his hockey helmet, which is standard headgear for youth riders. The horn slashed his forehead deep enough that the young rider’s skull could be seen.

“We derma bonded the gash behind the chute and he was back on another calf within ten minutes,” said T.J.

After the hit, Lance’s maternal grandmother, Amy Yates of Virginia, helped source and purchase a Rank Bull helmet. The Rank Bull Company is one of the premier bull riding equipment manufacturers in the world and Lance is the first youth to ride with their helmet. The helmet is designed to be multi-hit and to grow with Lance, by changing out interior padding as his head grows. Recently, Lance was given the privilege of not only meeting the owners of Rank Bull, but also sign autographs at one of their display booths.

Surprisingly, the calf in March is not the ride Lance considers his most difficult. That honor goes to a good size calf he rode two weeks ago at a Youth Rodeo Association event.

“Two jumps out, he (the calf) had a hard turn back that got me to the side,” said Lance. “He dumped me at 5.4 seconds. I have to ride for six and calves don’t normally turn back like that.”

McCraw said his biggest challenge in bull riding has been adjusting to new bulls and “stepping up to bigger bulls,” but he’s not afraid.

The teen even rode senior steers after he broke one of his arms. Three weeks after McCraw talked his doctor into giving him a smaller cast than recommended, in order to continue riding, McCraw won second place in a LaGrange competition.

“You can’t be scared; you have to have the mindset to do it. I consider myself my own hero,” said McCraw, who qualified for World Finals in February, after winning three buckles during a six-month series.

Though the potential threat of harm to her son was scary, Hathorn said she couldn’t deny that he was a talented rider, especially after he won the Red River Shootout calf competition at the young age of seven. And he also won the Future Pro Bull Riders competition.

“I like the opportunity to compete against better people. It makes me ride better,” said the young bull rider who plans to one day be a member of the PRCA, CPRA, CBR and PBR.

Lara’s goal is to also go to the PBR when he turns eighteen but, in the meantime, he will continue to watch his favorite bull riders J.B. Mooney and Austin Miles. He felt privileged to meet both of them at the San Antonio PBR, where he was able to go behind the shoots and pose with his favorite riders.

J.B. Mooney’s brother-in-law, Shane Porter, took the opportunity to design a pair of chaps for Lance that are purple and black with a cross and bull skull design.

Family tradition

Lance comes from a long line of rodeo bull riders, both men and women alike. His paternal grandmother, Diana Lara, won in the WPBR long before his dad, T.J., thought it might be fun. T.J. is now semi-retired, occasionally competing in the World Senior Professional Bull Riders Association – where he won Reserve World Champion. Diana is also retired and has added one last ride to her bucket list, but the Lara children are continuing the tradition, with Lance; his older brother Joseph, 12; and their little sister Jadeyn, 4.

Joseph is in the seventh grade and plays for the Navasota Junior High Fangs, while still finding time to rodeo when the mood strikes him. He rode sheep and calves for four years, before getting stepped on in the abdomen and taking a break. Joseph used the opportunity to play team sports, before coming back in 2010. Since then, he has placed in the top five for Junior Steers, in the TYRS, and won two buckles this year, both from riding the same steer - one at the Roger Crouch Memorial for Steers in August, and one for Jr. Steer at the Washington County Fair last weekend.

“I want to be a bullfighter,” said Joseph about the future. “That way, while Lance is riding, I can do the clowning for him.”

Lance’s little sister Jadeyn is known as “J Money” on the rodeo circuit. When asked how she got her nickname she said, “Because I take all the boy’s money when I ride.”

At four years old, the little Lara currently has three buckles, courtesy of “the boys’” at the Leander rodeo, the Washington County Fair, and the Roger Crouch Memorial. In her free time, Jadeyn plays soccer, t-ball and does gymnastics.

This past weekend, Lance took first place in calves and third in junior steers at the Caldwell TYRS, which is the first rodeo of the new season. The event is also a World qualifier, with the top two in each age group qualifying for a spot in the finals.

“J Money” also swept her division, taking first place in sheep.

Inspiration

The Lara family trains with a small group of local young riders that call themselves the Ride Rank Outlaws, including McCraw. Other locals that are an inspiration to Lance and Foster are Julius Williams and Ty Riddings. Riddings is also McCraw’s brother-in-law.

“I think he’s pretty good so I follow his steps,” McCraw said.

The Lara’s said they are thankful for their local and national sponsors who help provide Lance with clothing and other essential gear and fees for the rodeo circuit. These sponsors include: Team Ford, MBC Management Paul Malek, Let’s Get Dirty Sportswear, Youree Trucking, and Stewart Ranch.

Sponsors are vital to keeping a rodeo team on the road and in the chutes, but there will also be other fees that need to be covered when Lance and Foster go to the National Finals in November. Lance and Foster will travel to the National Junior Rodeo Finals to represent the Texas Youth Rough Stock Association in Shawnee, Nov. 8-10. To help offset related costs, Lara and McCraw will be selling Butter Braid products and hosting a bake sale at Harlan’s Food Market in October.

When asked about what it is going to take to win, Lance said, “Daddy helps me behind the shoots and Momma does the videos. Well, she screams on the videos. You gotta have the heart of a champion and know you are one.”

Foster was more succinct with, “A lot of try.”

The event is scheduled to be televised by RFD TV.

For further information, contact Deanna Lara at 979-219-9959 or Julie Hathorn at 979-318-6787.

Youth heading to National Junior Rodeo Finals

BY ROSEMARY SMITH, Examiner editor & NICOLE WILCOX, Examiner reporter

Nov. 8-10, Lance Lara, 7, and Foster McCraw, 14, of Navasota will be traveling to Shawnee, Okla., to represent the state of Texas and the Texas Youth Rough Stock Association at the National Junior Rodeo Finals, but this isn’t their first rodeo.

Lara has been earning awards since he was five – 21 buckles and two saddles to date.

“From the very beginning he was hooked,” said mom Deanna Lara about Lance’s rodeo start.

Lance started mutton busting when he was five and quickly won 17 buckles in the event and one 2010 Mutton Bustin Champ saddle. He then moved up to calves and junior steers and has collected four more buckles and a 2012 Finals Champion Calf Rider saddle.

Foster also started on the rodeo circuit at a young age.

“I rode my first sheep at Grimes County at age three, but I quit because he kicked me in the nose,” said the now 14-year-old McCraw, who will be a freshman at Navasota High School this fall.

At age five, McCraw returned to competition and hasn’t looked back since.

“I saw it on T.V. and wanted to do it. And everybody in my family rodeos,” said McCraw, who is the son of Julie Hathorn of Navasota and Sam McCraw of Grapeland.

McCraw said her son is the first family member to ride bulls, and actually started out riding on a bucking bull riding toy at the age of two. Over a seven-year span, McCraw has won approximately 40 buckles.

This year, McCraw not only took ninth in World Finals, but also won first place in senior steers at the Texas Youth Rough Stock. This was the second time he has qualified to compete in the World Finals, but his first time to have the ability to do so. McCraw also joined the Texas High School Rodeo Association, where he is currently sitting in first place. Many thanks to local sponsors: Kolkhorst Petroleum, Inhoff Ranch, Team of Navasota, Jeff Nobles, and Ving Card Elsafe of Dallas.

Lara has been a three-time world finals qualifier - twice in sheep, where he took thirtieth and fourth overall; and once in calves, where he took twelfth overall out of 45 riders.

“I want to get two more saddles this year and we’re fixing to make a saddle room,” said Lance.

Lance will be competing in three separate associations this year – the Texas Youth Rough Stock, the Young Bull Riders, and the Youth Rodeo Association.

“What he has at his young age is God given talent,” said Lance’s dad, T.J. “There may always be guys who are talented; you have to work harder than the next guy. But he wants to push; he is harder on himself than anyone else is.”

At age eight, McCraw said he moved on to junior steer riding.

“And that’s all it took. It scared me to death, although I’m more scared now. We did whatever he wanted. You have to support him – especially when it’s something he’s good at,” said Mrs. McCraw, who said though her son now competes in the senior steer division, he practices riding bulls at home.

McCraw was promoted to senior steer riding at age twelve, and took a two-year hiatus before returning to his passion for bull riding.

“It was such a big jump, he took a break. And when he came back, he was on fire!” declared his mother.

Cowboy up

Injuries are a fact of life for steer and bull riders; Lara and Foster have both experienced the pain and disappointment of a ride that ends badly.

Lara had a wreck in March that “busted his noggin,” when a calf’s horns penetrated square openings on his hockey helmet, which is standard headgear for youth riders. The horn slashed his forehead deep enough that the young rider’s skull could be seen.

“We derma bonded the gash behind the chute and he was back on another calf within ten minutes,” said T.J.

After the hit, Lance’s maternal grandmother, Amy Yates of Virginia, helped source and purchase a Rank Bull helmet. The Rank Bull Company is one of the premier bull riding equipment manufacturers in the world and Lance is the first youth to ride with their helmet. The helmet is designed to be multi-hit and to grow with Lance, by changing out interior padding as his head grows. Recently, Lance was given the privilege of not only meeting the owners of Rank Bull, but also sign autographs at one of their display booths.

Surprisingly, the calf in March is not the ride Lance considers his most difficult. That honor goes to a good size calf he rode two weeks ago at a Youth Rodeo Association event.

“Two jumps out, he (the calf) had a hard turn back that got me to the side,” said Lance. “He dumped me at 5.4 seconds. I have to ride for six and calves don’t normally turn back like that.”

McCraw said his biggest challenge in bull riding has been adjusting to new bulls and “stepping up to bigger bulls,” but he’s not afraid.

The teen even rode senior steers after he broke one of his arms. Three weeks after McCraw talked his doctor into giving him a smaller cast than recommended, in order to continue riding, McCraw won second place in a LaGrange competition.

“You can’t be scared; you have to have the mindset to do it. I consider myself my own hero,” said McCraw, who qualified for World Finals in February, after winning three buckles during a six-month series.

Though the potential threat of harm to her son was scary, Hathorn said she couldn’t deny that he was a talented rider, especially after he won the Red River Shootout calf competition at the young age of seven. And he also won the Future Pro Bull Riders competition.

“I like the opportunity to compete against better people. It makes me ride better,” said the young bull rider who plans to one day be a member of the PRCA, CPRA, CBR and PBR.

Lara’s goal is to also go to the PBR when he turns eighteen but, in the meantime, he will continue to watch his favorite bull riders J.B. Mooney and Austin Miles. He felt privileged to meet both of them at the San Antonio PBR, where he was able to go behind the shoots and pose with his favorite riders.

J.B. Mooney’s brother-in-law, Shane Porter, took the opportunity to design a pair of chaps for Lance that are purple and black with a cross and bull skull design.

Family tradition

Lance comes from a long line of rodeo bull riders, both men and women alike. His paternal grandmother, Diana Lara, won in the WPBR long before his dad, T.J., thought it might be fun. T.J. is now semi-retired, occasionally competing in the World Senior Professional Bull Riders Association – where he won Reserve World Champion. Diana is also retired and has added one last ride to her bucket list, but the Lara children are continuing the tradition, with Lance; his older brother Joseph, 12; and their little sister Jadeyn, 4.

Joseph is in the seventh grade and plays for the Navasota Junior High Fangs, while still finding time to rodeo when the mood strikes him. He rode sheep and calves for four years, before getting stepped on in the abdomen and taking a break. Joseph used the opportunity to play team sports, before coming back in 2010. Since then, he has placed in the top five for Junior Steers, in the TYRS, and won two buckles this year, both from riding the same steer - one at the Roger Crouch Memorial for Steers in August, and one for Jr. Steer at the Washington County Fair last weekend.

“I want to be a bullfighter,” said Joseph about the future. “That way, while Lance is riding, I can do the clowning for him.”

Lance’s little sister Jadeyn is known as “J Money” on the rodeo circuit. When asked how she got her nickname she said, “Because I take all the boy’s money when I ride.”

At four years old, the little Lara currently has three buckles, courtesy of “the boys’” at the Leander rodeo, the Washington County Fair, and the Roger Crouch Memorial. In her free time, Jadeyn plays soccer, t-ball and does gymnastics.

This past weekend, Lance took first place in calves and third in junior steers at the Caldwell TYRS, which is the first rodeo of the new season. The event is also a World qualifier, with the top two in each age group qualifying for a spot in the finals.

“J Money” also swept her division, taking first place in sheep.

Inspiration

The Lara family trains with a small group of local young riders that call themselves the Ride Rank Outlaws, including McCraw. Other locals that are an inspiration to Lance and Foster are Julius Williams and Ty Riddings. Riddings is also McCraw’s brother-in-law.

“I think he’s pretty good so I follow his steps,” McCraw said.

The Lara’s said they are thankful for their local and national sponsors who help provide Lance with clothing and other essential gear and fees for the rodeo circuit. These sponsors include: Team Ford, MBC Management Paul Malek, Let’s Get Dirty Sportswear, Youree Trucking, and Stewart Ranch.

Sponsors are vital to keeping a rodeo team on the road and in the chutes, but there will also be other fees that need to be covered when Lance and Foster go to the National Finals in November. Lance and Foster will travel to the National Junior Rodeo Finals to represent the Texas Youth Rough Stock Association in Shawnee, Nov. 8-10. To help offset related costs, Lara and McCraw will be selling Butter Braid products and hosting a bake sale at Harlan’s Food Market in October.

When asked about what it is going to take to win, Lance said, “Daddy helps me behind the shoots and Momma does the videos. Well, she screams on the videos. You gotta have the heart of a champion and know you are one.”

Foster was more succinct with, “A lot of try.”

The event is scheduled to be televised by RFD TV.

For further information, contact Deanna Lara at 979-219-9959 or Julie Hathorn at 979-318-6787.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • will posted at 3:20 pm on Thu, Jul 11, 2013.

    will Posts: 17

    Actually I've never been to a rodeo contest before. I don't think I'll get this chance anytime soon neither, our future vacations are holidays with kids, I don't think I can figure out a solution for the kids as well.