Final Rodeos Underway

September marks a slow-down in the rodeo season for several rodeo and barrel racing associations, the Canadian Professional Rodeo Assoc. among them. Okotoks Pro Rodeo and Merritt, BC, two regular Sept long-weekend stops on the pro rodeo trail, provided several contestants with much needed money late in the season… a crucial time of year when it comes to determining the 2010 Canadian Finals Rodeo roster. Tara Muldoon earned top spot at this year’s Okotoks Rodeo with the Merritt title going to Lauren Chad.

The Armstrong Pro Rodeo – traditionally one of the pivotal competitions due to the amount of added money and the fact it runs close to the end of the regular season – was available this year to only a limited number of rodeo athletes. The venue served as the Wrangler Tour Finale… and was open to the top 24 tour finalists in all events.

With a number of other rodeos in both Canada and the U.S. also slated for the Sept long weekend, organizers had to move fairly far down the roster in some events to fill the requisite 12 spots.

Set up in two ‘two-day’ Pools with 12 contestants in each, the top 10 money earners moved onto a Final go-round Sunday, Sept 5. The top two finishers in the finals earned automatic qualifications to the 2011 Calgary Stampede. As well, all monies earned by Tour Finale contenders counts toward this year’s Canadian Finals.

In the ladies barrel racing at Armstrong, Rana Koopmans (Lethbridge, AB) and Julie Leggett (Kamloops, BC) earned the top two spots. Koopmans was 16.73 seconds in the final round and Leggett was just behind her with a time of 16.78 seconds.

The other critical weekend for pro Canadian rodeo athletes (including barrel racers) is happening right now (Sept 24-26) at Hanna, AB and McCord, SK – the final two regular rodeos of the 2010 season. In several events, it will be a ‘fight to the finish’ to determine this year’s 12 CFR finalists. In the barrel racing event, Oklahoma cowgirl Sherrylynn Johnson is pulling out all the stops in an effort to try and make both the NFR and the CFR. Johnson has hauled many miles this year, some of them on her own, in her attempt to earn a first-time berth at the CFR. I enjoyed one story in particular where the vivacious Johnson recounted her efforts to get to the Morris, MB Stampede in late July this year. Airline difficulties in Vegas resulted in a late flight to Winnipeg for the Oklahoma cowgirl… who had been hoping to meet up with her calf roper husband, Mike Johnson, at the Winnipeg Airport for the last leg of the journey to the Morris Stampede. Frantic phone calls and text messages between the husband and wife finally ended up with Mike Johnson arriving first on a different flight, renting a car and setting out for Morris. Sherrylynn, arriving a few minutes later, headed to the same rental car company, secured another car and set out for Morris. Worried about missing the barrel race altogether, Johnson somehow managed to chang into her rodeo clothes while driving and called ahead to have friends saddle and warm her horse up. As she roared into the Morris Stampede infield sometime later, Sherrylynn, seeing the contestant right before her already in the arena, realized that the barrel race was underway. In an effort to prevent being flagged out, the determined barrel racer drove her car right into the arena alley. She was able to re-group slightly and leap from her car to her horse. As she headed into the arena for her run, her horse started bucking… it took a few minutes to note that the treeless saddle belonging to a friend (now on Sherrylynn’s horse) was likely the cause. Needless to say, despite her best efforts and the ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ involved in helping her reach her destination, Sherrylynn was not destined to make any money at the 2010 Morris Stampede. At that point, all she could do was kick back and laugh!

Johnson is not unique when it comes to making the miles, financial commitment and overall effort it takes to try to qualify for the CFR. Many contestants (and their friends and families) set aside other priorities in the quest for a finals qualification. Daysland, AB barrel racer Crystal Shaw is another barrel racer/trainer who changed her priorities this year when she realized she had a chance at the CFR. Colt training and outside horses took a bit of a back seat to entering, getting set up right, overcoming truck breakdowns and making the miles – all of which have paid off for the veteran cowgirl who was sitting in 8th spot going into the final weekend.

As of Sept 23, the CPRA barrel racing standings looked like this:
1 Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD (16) $28,187
2 Rana Koopmans, Lethbridge, AB (40) 25,293
3 Lindsay Sears, Nanton, AB (16) 22,201
4 Britany Fleck, Mandan, ND (17) 21,278
5 Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, TX (6) 19,290
6 Lauren Chad, Okotoks, AB (36) 18,280
7 Joleen Seitz, Savona, BC (38) 18,033
8 Crystal Shaw, Daysland, AB (42) 17,425
9 Debbie Renger, Okotoks, AB (37) 17,376
10 Benette Barrington, Lubbock, TX (17) 17,009
11 Casey Crandall, Ponoka, AB (38) 16,794
12 Sierra Stoney, DeWinton, AB (16) 16,762
13 Ramona Nash, Drayton Valley, AB (41) 14,895
14 Sherrylynn Johnson, Henryetta, OK (17) 14,643

And courtesy of CPRA barrel racing director, Randa Nugent, here are the McCord barrel racing results for McCord and an update from Hanna with one performance to go:

2010 Unofficial McCord Rodeo results:
1. Sherrylynn Johnson – 12.43, 2. Melissa Thiessen – 12.61, 3. Skyler Mantler – 12.69, 4. Sharyl Malin – 12.71, 5. Rebecca Beebe – 12.72, 6. Cora Guest 0 12.77

An update from Hanna with one perf to go:
1. Casey Crandall – 12.93, 2. Crystal Shaw – 13.00, 3. Haley Keenan – 13.09, 4. Steffanie Mather – 13.11, 5. Melissa Thiessen 13.12, 6. Rebecca Beebe – 13.16, 7. Skyler Mantler – 13.28, 8. Lynette Brodoway – 13.30

A few other rodeo associations have completed not only their regular season, but also their finals.

The Lakeland Rodeo Assoc. Finals ran Sept 2-5 in St Paul, AB with Ruby Braconnier winning the Ladies Barrels and Rene LeClercq the junior title.

Both the BC Rodeo Assoc. and the Wild Rose Rodeo Assoc. held their Finals two weeks later on the Sept 17-19 weekend. The 2010 WRA Ladies Barrel Racing Champion is Dixie Dyer from Fort St John, BC. The BCRA Champion for this year has yet to be posted online – TBA in The Barrel Patch.

Still to come are the FCA Finals… slated for the Thanksgiving weekend in Red Deer, AB; the Manitoba Rodeo Assoc. Finals set for Brandon, MB Oct 21-23 and the CCA Finals which will run Nov 24-27 in Regina, SK as part of Agribition.


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