Wednesday, July 12, 2006
By Kristen M. White PSN Writer
If you look at the list of PRCA members with more than $1 million in lifetime earnings, Chris Lybbert is there. And if you look in the record books, Lybbert's name appears in 1982 as the first PRCA cowboy to ever earn $100,000 prior to the National Finals Rodeo.
Now, Lybbert's name will also appear among the honored list of ProRodeo Hall of Fame members. He is one of seven members to be inducted this year, and will be honored in the all-around category.
"To get recognized by the people who select you, it's rewarding and makes you feel good," Lybbert said.
He was the world champion all-around cowboy in 1982, and the world champion tie-down roper in 1986. Overall, Lybbert qualified for the National Finals Rodeo five times in steer wrestling (1979-80, 1982-83 and 1986) and nine times in tie-down roping (1979-84, 1986, 1989-90).
Lybbert also won the NFR tie-down roping average title in 1980 and 1981 and the NFR steer wrestling average in 1982.
It was that year, 1982, that perhaps holds the best memories for Lybbert.
Lybbert also excelled in circuit competition, winning titles in both the California and Texas circuits.
"When I threw my last steer down in the 1982 Finals and won the average in the steer wrestling, I knew I had the all-around won," Lybbert recalled. "I remember walking back, out of the arena, and it was like somebody took a ton of bricks off my shoulders. It was such a relief."
Getting that last steer to the ground, however, wasn't quite as easy as Lybbert had hoped, and the win was one he worked hard for.
"Bruce Ford (runner-up that year to Lybbert for the all-around title), he placed in something like eight of 10 rounds that year. Every time I'd win something, it seemed like I couldn't get ahead. (The final steer wrestling round) was kind of what clinched it for me.
"I caught my last steer, and I was thinking he was a little better than he was, and he almost got away from me. I had to jump up and grab him, and I threw him down and won the average."
Lybbert also excelled in circuit competition, winning the California Circuit's tie-down roping championship from 1978-80 and in 1982. He also won the circuit's steer wrestling title in 1979 and 1982. He later moved to Texas, and was the Texas Circuit's tie-down roping champion in 1984 and all-around champion in 1986.
These days, the 52-year-old cowboy hasn't totally given up rodeo. He still competes "now and then," but mostly spends his time on his Forestburg, Texas, ranch, where he runs cattle and bales hay. He's also busy with children Chase, 21, and Katie, 16.
In all, Lybbert has earned $1,167,090 in his PRCA career, which officially began in 1976. Growing up on a ranch in California, Lybbert was accustomed to being around horses and cattle, so being a cowboy came naturally.
In all, Lybbert has earned $1,167,090 in his PRCA career, which officially began in 1976.
"They said I was roping stuff when I was 2 years old dogs and cats and whatever," he said. "I always roped and rode and so forth. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a bronc rider, but then decided that probably wasn't what I needed to be doing."
Instead, Lybbert turned his attention to tie-down roping and steer wrestling, which he worked hard at during his college years with the help of mentors Jack Roddy, the 1966 and 1968 World Champion Steer Wrestler, and six-time world champion all-around cowboy Tom Ferguson.
"What I know in those events is pretty much attributed to those two guys," Lybbert said. "Jack lived close by and took me in. We'd practice a couple of times a week, and he was just great to me.
"Tom would come down a week at a time in college and practice there at school with me. You have no idea how hard that guy practiced. We'd go until dark, five days in a row. He never stopped. He was relentless."
All that practice paid off for Lybbert, who made his mark on ProRodeo, one that will now be forever enshrined in the Hall of Fame.