LAS VEGAS – In a couple of months Jurnee Jarrett will turn 3 years old, but she wants everyone to know she can do big-girl stuff.
The biggest thing she’s doing in Sin City this week is keep her daddy, tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett, content through each day as he prepares to compete at his 13th National Finals Rodeo, his 14th qualification – he also qualified in steer wrestling in his inaugural run in 2005, the same year he won the all-around world championship.
“It’s tough,” said Jarrett, 37, originally from Summerville, Georgia, but now living in Comanche, Oklahoma, with Jurnee and his wife, Shy-Anne. “The first night, I thought, ‘Heck yeah.’ It’s gone downhill since then. I didn’t make a great run tonight by no means, and I just got lucky that I placed. I will take it.”
Yes, he will. He stopped the clock in 8.3 seconds to finish in a tie for fourth place in Wednesday’s seventh round, pocketing $9,144. It’s just his first paycheck since the opening round, when he finished third. In all, he has earned $35,255 in eight days. It’s not bad, but it’s not what he came here to do.
No matter what happens inside the Thomas & Mack Center, he has a small section of people that are always in his corner. Jurnee has a wide grin and a big hug for daddy when he makes his way from the arena floor to the seating area inside the longtime home of the NFR.
“I focus on the roping some throughout the day, but we are busy doing stuff with her and enjoying it,” he said. “It has been fun.”
She’s growing up a cowgirl much like her mom, who went to college on a rodeo scholarship and is still a barrel racer.
“She’s getting to the point she will help you,” Jarrett said of his daughter. “She is figuring out she wants to feed and give horses hay and put them in the stalls.”
It’s for her and his wife that he wants to have a little better luck at the National Finals Rodeo. This is his primary business, and he hopes to do well every year to provide for his family. So far this year, he’s pocketed $127,188. That’s great, but considering the expenses that come on the rodeo trail, it’s not a great profit.
“I just can’t get tapped off,” he said. “I’ve been late at the barrier. Usually, I can get pretty close to the barrier out here and feel confident. I’ve just been a little late. I’d take a chance a reach a little bit, missing. I roped a leg one night. Just one thing, then 10 more.
“You just have to think about, ‘I’m ready for tomorrow night.’
He’s running out of “tomorrow nights.” There are just two rounds remaining in the ProRodeo season. He’s been down this road before. He’s experienced all the highs and lows that come with the sport, especially on its grandest stage.
“For 10 nights, you are going to have a little bit of everything thrown at you,” Jarrett said. “There’s nothing like rodeoing in Vegas. The crowd is on top of you, and they are way into it. It’s just a different feeling.”