By Con Marshall
(update by Brandon Davenport)
Lisa Lockhart has been hard at work since beginning her 11th appearance in Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo on Thursday.
After four rounds the Oelrichs barrel racer sits near the top of the standings with an average place of 5th, having just barely cracked the top six both Saturday and Sunday nights with runs of 13.67 and 13.76 respectively.
Lockhart, who currently sits 11th in the national rankings, failed to place in the first two rounds with times of 13.98 to kick off the rodeo Thursday night, and 13.96 in round-two Friday night.
Currently Hailey Kinsel, whose Saturday night performance broke the arena record, leads with an average place of first.
Kinsel’s round-three run of 13.11 demolished the previous arena record of 13.37 which stood as best for only one run, after being set by Kassie Mowry on the first run of Saturday ngiht.
Prior to round-three’s dual record breaking performances, Taylor Jacob in 2013,and Amberleigh Moore in 2016, shared the record of 13.37.
This is the 11th consecutive year that Lockhart has qualified to compete at the Las Vegas event.
“I’m excited, honored and feel fortunate to be competing there again this year,” Lockhart said last week.
Because she didn’t have as many “big wins” as most previous years, Lockhart and her horses had to travel to more rodeos this year—59 in all. She is ninth among the 15 qualifiers with earnings of $96,454. A year ago, she went to Las Vegas in seventh place with $100,244 to her credit after 38 rodeos.
Admittedly, things went extra well for her at last year’s finals. She and her faithful buckskin, Louie, placed among the top six in five of the go-rounds, were the only pair to leave all the barrels upright in each of the 10 go-rounds and won the averages, worth an extra $68,000.
When everything was added up, Lisa and Louie were third in the world standings with earnings of $251,974.96.
They also finished third in 2013 and were second in both 2014 and 2015. Those have been her highest finishes during a decade of almost unprecedented success since Charmayne James and her horse Scamper won 10 straight national championships from 1984 through ’93.
The good news for Lockhart is that Louie, who has had a couple of health issues in recent years, appears to be in good condition and will be her top horse again. Next up if needed, she said, will be Rosa, a seven-year-old mare that she has been developing for more than a year. Also available is Chisum, now a 20-year-old gelding that has frequently served as a valuable pinch hitter.
Lisa points out that another family member with a similar but different last name is also doing extra well—make that spectacularly well—in the rodeo world. Her sister’s son, Jess Lockwood of Volberg, Mont., recently won the Professional Bull Riders 2017 championship in Las Vegas, with earnings of more than $1.5 million this year.
Although he suffered some broken ribs and a lacerated liver a few months ago, Lockwood was unstoppable at the finals, winning all four of the go-rounds. Lisa adds that her nephew just turned 20 and is the youngest to ever win the PBR championship.