September proved to be an excellent month for Oelrichs barrel racer Lisa Lockhart. She came from far back to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the 15th year in a row.
After getting the season off to a slow start, Lockhart was 20th in the barrel racing standings with earnings of $42,154 entering the Labor Day weekend. But she never gave up and ended the season this past week with $65,043.71 to her credit and 14th in the world standings.
The top 15 in each of the rodeo events qualify for the finals, which according to present plans will return to Las Vegas in early December. Last year’s finals were at Globe Life Field, where the Texas Rangers play baseball in Arlington. The switch was made a year ago because of COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada.
Only two barrel racers—Charmayne James and Sherri Cervi—have qualified for the finals more times than Lockhart. Both went 19 times, but during last year’s finals Lockhart became her event’s all-time leading money winner at the NFR.
“I feel very lucky,” Lockhart said during a telephone conversation late last week after the final 2021 standings were posted. “It was an uphill battle. But I like challenges and this year was certainly a challenge.”
Lockhart noted she was on the road headed to rodeos nearly all of September. Her biggest win was at the Pendleton Roundup in the middle of the month, where won the first go-round and finished fifth in the averages to earn $7,233.
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“I had a lot of good results in September,” she said. “I went to both big and little rodeos and we nearly always placed. They all counted. I needed them all this year. It was crazy.”
Among the places she competed last month were the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, the Amarillo Tri-State Fair and the River City Rodeo in Omaha, where she took third to win $959.
Lockhart said she got a big boost late in the summer, when her black gelding, Cutter, became available after being sidelined for more than a year because of a throat ailment. He was her mount at Pendleton and will be her primary horse this weekend during the Badlands Circuit Finals in Minot, N.D., she said.
Winnings from that event will count toward the 2022 standings.
The 2021 standings are led by three-time defending champion Hailey Kinsel of Cotulla, Texas, at $131,589. Newcomer Jordan Briggs of Tolar, Texas, is second with $102,618, followed by Shelley Morgan of Eustace, Texas, at $94,225.
Another South Dakota contestant, Jessica Routier of Buffalo, is fifth with $78,847.
In 2020 when COVID-19 caused dozens of rodeos to be cancelled, Lockhart qualified for the finals in 13th place with $40,904 to her credit. But despite the fact that while riding her buckskin mare, Rosa, they knocked over one-third of the barrels at the finals in Texas, they placed in five go-rounds and Lisa finished eighth in the final standings with $119,865.68 for the year.
Another cowgirl with area ties also has qualified for the 2021 national finals. She’s Sarah Morrissey, a native of British Columbia who graduated from Chadron State in 2004, became a registered pharmacist, but has given up that profession for time being and will be going to Las Vegas in 12th place in the breakaway roping standings after earning $30,561 this year when scores of PRCA rodeos added the event to their agendas.
The event leader is Shelby Borsjoli of Stephenville, Texas, with $52,486 in her account, followed by Sawyer Gilbert of Buffalo, S.D., with $51,122. Third belongs to Erin Holm Johnson of Fowler, Colo., at $38,323. She lived in the Chadron area briefly approximately 20 years ago.
The only Nebraskan qualifying for the National Finals is Garrett Shadbolt of Merriman, who finished the regular season 10th the bareback riding standings with $96,036 in earnings. Now 25, he finished 21st in the 2020 world standings with payoffs totaling $28,466.