Broc Cresta, a California steer roper and rising star on the rodeo circuit, who ranked 12th in the world as a heeler in team roping, was found dead Saturday in his trailer at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming. He was 25.
Cresta, the son of an expert steer wrestler from Santa Rosa, Calif., had competed Friday in the prestigious Cheyenne event, held annually since 1897. His body was discovered by his girlfriend, champion barrel racer Brittany Pozzi, when she tried to awaken him Saturday morning, said his father, Daniel.
“The whole rodeo world is in shock,” said Kendra Santos, communications director of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. “My phone’s been ringing off the wall all day with calls from Hall of Famers on down to little kids. Broc’s a fourth-generation cowboy in California, and everybody loves him. It’s hard enough to lose a good cowboy when he’s 90, but losing such a talented and genuinely good person at 25 is just about impossible.... The entire rodeo family hurts right now.”
In 2007, the rodeo association named Cresta rookie heeler of the year. His event, team roping, is considered the only true team pursuit in rodeo, involving two ropers — a header, who ropes the steer first, and a heeler, who comes in second and ropes the steer’s hind legs. The event is timed, with the clock stopping only when no slack remains in the ropes and the horses of the ropers are facing each other.
The event is more complicated than it appears, involving not only strength and agility but exquisite timing.
In the 10th round of the National Finals in Las Vegas in December, Cresta and partner Spencer Mitchell, a childhood friend, roped a steer in 3.6 seconds, which tied for the round’s fastest time. They finished 10th overall, roping five of 10 steers in 21.3 seconds.
Cresta teamed with champion header Turtle Powell in the 2010 finals and with Logan Olson to win the Cheyenne title in 2009.
Born on Jan. 2, 1987, Cresta grew up on a 500-acre ranch in Santa Rosa, Calif. His father and uncle wrestled steers on the pro circuit. His grandfather, William, raised horses for the sport and owned a champion steer wrestling horse.