In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams. Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. Later this month, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.
Tucson got its start in the rodeo business 86 years ago, and the Fiesta de los Vaqueros didn't need much break-in time to establish itself as a world-class event.
By 1933, Tucsonan Roy Adams was the world champion in team roping. Three years later, Tucsonan Jim Rhodes won a similar title. Then came world champs Jim Hudson of Willcox in 1941, Joe Glenn of Douglas in 1948 and Tucsonan Marvin "Buckshot" Sorrels, world champ in 1950.
Southern Arizona is so rich in rodeo history that Marana's Sherry Cervi is the defending world champion in barrel racing, a title she earlier won in 1995 and 1999.
Cervi comes from one of the world's most prominent rodeo families. Her father, Mel Potter, and mother, Wendy Potter, are Tucson High School grads who both reached the National Finals Rodeos in the 1950s and 1960s. Their family business - training and selling rodeo stock - is among the most productive in the country.
"You can't go very far without bumping into someone from Southern Arizona on the circuit," said Mel Potter, an NRF team roper in 1959. "Cesar de la Cruz is one of the two or three best team ropers in the world. It is a great tradition here."
The other Southern Arizonans of note: Del Haverty, was No. 6 in all-around competition in 1953; Joe Sublette, was the world's fifth-best bull rider in 1957; Buddy Peak was possibly the world's best bareback rider in the early 1960s; Tiny Bradford and Bucky Bradford were both among the PRCA's top 10 team ropers in the late '60s; Charlie Underwood reached the National Finals in bull riding in 1975; and Marana's Parsons brothers, Joe and Clay, are the first brothers in U.S. history to win their state all-around high school championships. Joe qualified for his first NFR in 2010.
But it is Cervi who endures. She joined the WPRA when she was 13, even before she became an accomplished basketball player at Marana High School. She won her first world championship when she was 19.
"I sometimes wonder, in hindsight, if I could have been No. 1 in the world, and if my wife, Wendy, could have been No. 1. We were pretty good. But everything turned out all right. We've been fortunate. Sherry won't have to look back and wonder if she made the right choice. She is No. 1." - Mel Potter, dad of Sherry Cervi and a nationally prominent trainer and seller of rodeo stock