9-year-old barrel racing champ leads local finishers at national rodeos

ST. GEORGE — Several young rodeo competitors from Southern Utah fared well at national-level competitions staged in Oklahoma in mid-July.

In the National Little Britches Rodeo Association’s national finals in Guthrie, Oklahoma, 9-year-old Izzy Coughlin of St. George won the barrel racing event and took fourth in pole bending, giving her an overall fourth-place finish in the Little Wrangler division, comprising athletes aged 9 and younger.

Coughlin made all three of her barrel runs in under 15 seconds each, joining Leighton Burris of Mississippi as the only two of more than 130 competitors in the division to accomplish that feat. In her final run, Coughlin and her horse Joe Dynamite posted a time of 14.506 seconds, while Burris clocked in at 14.684.

Coughlin’s aggregate time was 43.515 seconds, while runner-up Burris made her three runs in 43.860 seconds. The two top girls’ total point scores in barrels were 1,084 and 1,075, respectively, while the third-place contestant was some distance back with 891 points. For complete event results, click here.

Coughlin’s best time of 14.367 in her second go was the second-fastest time of any competitor in any age group at the national finals, according to her parents.

Rodeo champion Izzy Coughlin, 9, at the Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 7, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

In the Little Wrangler pole bending competition, Coughlin made her three runs in a total time of 69.017 seconds, about five seconds off the winner’s time. Coughlin’s score of 755 points gave her fourth place in the event.

“She had a five-second penalty due to a knocked-down pole; otherwise, she would have also won the championship in poles,” her mother, Tara Coughlin, said.

Then, a few days after the Little Britches National Finals Rodeo wrapped up, the National High School Rodeo Association staged its championships at the same venue, the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma, from July 17-23.

Several athletes from Southern Utah participated in the competition, having qualified by posting a top-four finish in their events at the state finals rodeo in June.

Beau Emett of Enterprise, Utah, winner of the 2020 National High School Rodeo Association’s light-rifle shooting national finals in Oklahoma, July 2020 | Photo courtesy of NHSRA, St. George News

Beau Emett, who recently completed his freshman year at Enterprise High School, took first place in the light rifle shooting competition with a total score of 668 points. It was Emett’s second national title, as he also won the event last year while competing at the junior high level. Two other competitors from Southern Utah also placed among the top five overall at nationals: Melroy “Tres” Vigoren of Dixie scored 657 and took third place, while fellow Dixie sharpshooter Curry Wilkins placed fifth with a score of 645. For complete results and scores, click here.

Other Southern Utah competitors at the NHSRA’s high school finals included the following:

  • MaRynn Moody of Delta, Utah placed second overall out of 162 competitors in pole bending.
  • Macee McAllister of Dixie placed 17th overall in barrel racing. She was the defending national champion in the event, having won the barrels title in Wyoming last year.
  • Dalli Holyoak of Dixie placed fifth in the rodeo queen competition.
  • Amy Mason of Enterprise finished 21st of more than 150 competitors in goat tying.
  • Brothers TJ and Blake Bowler of Enterprise finished 42nd out of more than 90 competitors in tie-down roping. Siblings Cameron and Caden Drake of Dixie also competed in that event.

The Bowlers brothers’ younger sister Paige also qualified for nationals in barrel racing; however, the NHSRA’s junior high national finals, originally scheduled to be held in Iowa, were not staged this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Paige Bowler won the Utah state junior high championships in barrel racing in June, following in the footsteps of her mother, Melinda Holt Bowler, herself a two-time state champion in barrels in 1993 and 1994, placing third and eighth, respectively, at nationals those years.

Other junior high athletes from Southern Utah who qualified for nationals include Bladen Leavitt in goat tying, Dax Hunt in chute dogging and Landon Houghton in bull riding.

In the fifth grade and under age category, Southern Utah had three other state champions besides Izzy Coughlin in barrels. McCoy Cooper was Utah’s state champion in team roping (pairing up with his dad, Nathan), Reighley Barrow won state in pole bending and Riley Hughes of Newcastle was the state’s top all-around cowboy. Hughes, the 10-year-old son of Ramzi and Laura Hughes, competed in team roping, breakaway, steer riding, barrel racing and goat tying, qualifying for the short go (finals) in all of his events.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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