Lisa Lockhart has had a pretty good month of July. Over Independence Day, the Oelrichs cowgirl pocketed a nice paycheck in Red Lodge, Mont., followed up with a win and a $100,000 payday at the Calgary Stampede. She also currently leads the average in Cheyenne, Wyo., at the legendary Frontier Days rodeo.
On Friday night, Lockhart returned to the Days of ’76 Rodeo in Deadwood looking to defend her 2014 crown and further cement her spot atop the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standings.
Not surprisingly, Lockhart and her dashing mount Louie did just that, posting a 17.93-second run for the best of the night and the first sub-18 second run of the rodeo.
“It certainly been a very lucrative July, that’s for sure.” Lockhart said. “It’s a great time of the year, and I love the rodeos, whether it be Calgary or Cheyenne, and Deadwood is one of my favorites and it’s always fun to go to the ones that are your favorites.”
And though Louie has perhaps been the top horse in the Lockhart stable for the last few years, Lockhart hadn’t run the 12-year-old gelding in Deadwood, previously opting instead for Chism, a tried and true 17-year-old gelding.
“I’ve always ridden Chism here and I miss the big boy,” Lockhart said before her winning run. “You have certain rodeos and you like to ride a certain horse and that’s just been part of the game, but tonight Louie is going to get the call and see if he likes Deadwood as much as Chism does.”
Clearly he did, proving again that Lockhart has more than one horse for most courses.
Bareback rider Evan Jayne has taken a rather roundabout route to what looks to be his first trip to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December. After all, not many cowboys show up on the rodeo program as coming from Marseille, France.
At Friday night’s third performance of the Deadwood Days of ’76 Rodeo, Jayne spurred his way to an 87-point ride aboard a classy bucking horse by the name of Smiling Bob. The ride, the best of the rodeo to date, almost assuredly will put Jayne in line for a nice payout come Saturday night.
“I was pretty stoked when I saw I had Smiling Bob,” said Jayne, who came to America as a high school exchange student and immediately fell in love with rodeo. “He was a little tough getting out of the chutes and wanted to stall, but once he got going I knew his pattern and it felt great.”
Currently enjoying the best year of his professional rodeo career, Jayne sits No. 1 in the PRCA bareback world standings and seems a shoo-in to make the NFR.
“It’s been kind of the way my year is going. I’m drawing well, being healthy and being more prepared, I guess. Nobody is more surprised than I am, but it’s just all fallen together for me. It’s almost the end of July and I’m still toward the top of the standings and I’ve pretty much got my qualification to the finals sealed,” Jayne said.
Friday night’s saddle bronc field featured Jesse Wright, the 2012 world champion, and twin brother Jake, two of five Wright brothers who ride broncs on the PRCA circuit. Another outstanding bronc riding family was on hand as well, South Dakota’s Elshere family, J.J., brother Ryan, and cousin Cole.
Unfortunately the bucking horses didn’t quite match the quality of riders as Jesse Wright’s 78-point ride shared the top spot in the performance with Layton Green, followed by Jake Wright (75) and Cole Elshere (74).
Other winners on Friday night included: Sturgis team ropers J.B Lord and son Levi (5.4-seconds); Boe Brown (Valentine, Neb.) with a 10.9 second tie-down roping trip; Tom Hansen (Killdeer, N.D.), a 5.8-second run in steer wrestling; and bull rider Jess Davison (Miles City, Mont.) whose 80-point ride was the only cover of the night.
The Days of ’76 Rodeo concludes on Saturday with two performances, a 1:30 p.m. matinee and the 7 p.m. fifth and final performance.