Rodeo, you could say, is in Jordan Crossley's DNA.

When the Hermiston graduate took the College National Finals arena in Casper, Wyo., last month for Walla Walla Community College, it was in the footsteps of her parents Shane and Maureen Crossley.

While there she more than lived up to the family name, finishing in a tie for the all-around title, third place in the barrel racing and a Rookie of the Year award.

But as easy as she made it look, Crossley accomplished the feats on a new horse, and even by the finals wasn't sure what to expect.

Since she was in sixth grade, Crossley and her horse, Cisco, trained, competed in rodeos and built a trust that earned the pair plenty of attention.

When she entered the college ranks last season as a freshman at WWCC she expected the relationship to continue. But in her first rodeo as a collegiate athlete, Cisco came out of the arena injured and left the talented cowgirl without a horse to ride.

The injury turned out to be a career-ender for Cisco, but thanks to family rodeo connections, it didn't stop Crossley from having an outstanding rookie season.

Crossley's uncle and aunt, Butch and Mary Knowles, had given her a horse named Brownie and she got to work right away to try to salvage the season.

"It was pretty hard for a while," she admitted. "But my college rodeos went really good and we started winning some of them."

Her father, Shane Crossley, said the immediate success was surprising, but for a second choice, Brownie wasn't bad.

"It's very, very difficult to change horses like that mid-season," he said. "Cisco was nationally acclaimed in the barrels, but not many people have a horse like (Brownie) they can fall back on."

Crossley's mother, Maureen, had been training Brownie, which had already won a novice class. But even though the horse had found some success in smaller circuits, seeing if he would perform in progressively larger rodeos was the true test.

"They immediately started winning," Shane Crossley said, "but we were still holding our breaths because you don't ever know how they're going to do in the big arenas. It's totally different with big crowds and rock star music, but it didn't bother him at all."

Both Shane and Maureen Crossley knew the college rodeo scene first hand, including the College National Finals Rodeo, as both made multiple trips during their collegiate years.

Shane, who still rodeos around the northwest, finished as high as third place at the year-ending event, while Maureen, the Intermountain High School rodeo coach, won the goat tying at the CNFR and held the record for more than a decade.

But despite nearly eight months of competition, Crossley still wasn't sure what would happen when the arena lights came on.

"I felt pretty confident in the breakaway," she said, "but in the barrels I wasn't really sure what would happen. I didn't expect him to have four good runs in a row."

Brownie held up like a veteran, however, and helped Crossley cap her freshman campaign with a strong rodeo performance.

Though the college season ended in Casper, Crossley and Brownie will continue competing throughout the summer. Just one week after the finals ended she was signed up to compete in rodeos in Prineville, Tillamook and Silverdale, Wash. and plans to stay at work with Brownie until the next season comes around.

"In high school it was different because I always had volleyball and basketball in the school year," she said. "In the summers I've always done (rodeos), but it didn't take as long for me to get going this year."

Crossley plans on another year at Walla Walla Community College, though she's thought about the University of Nevada-Las Vegas as a possible future destination.

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