Fourth grader from St. George wins barrel racing title at Junior World Finals Rodeo

ST. GEORGE — Fourth grader Izzy Coughlin of St. George won the world barrel racing championship at the Junior World Finals Rodeo in Texas on Saturday.

Barrel racing champion Izzy Coughlin rides horse Joe Dynamite during the Junior World Finals Rodeo, Fort Worth, Texas, December 2020 | Photo by Boaz Elkes, courtesy of Tara Coughlin, St. George News

Izzy celebrated her 10th birthday Thursday, one day after her initial run and two days before she clinched the title, riding her horse Joe Dynamite to an event-best time of 13.914 seconds in her third and final run.

Izzy’s father, Darren Coughlin, told St. George News that Izzy had entered Saturday’s final round in third place overall. The competition, staged at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, featured approximately 64 top-level barrel racers aged 12 and under from all over the country.

“Her first run, she did a 14.421,” Darren Coughlin said. “They split it clear down to the thousandths of a second. And then on her second run, she had a better run, but her horse slipped a bit on the third barrel. So she got a 14.488.”

Heading into Saturday’s finals, Izzy’s aggregate time was approximately 0.4 seconds behind that of the leader, he added.

“One girl was actually four-tenths of a second quicker with her two combined runs. She had two 14.2s, so Izzy was kind of the underdog. She was in third going in, and she had to beat her by like at least a half a second. And then, she made that run.”

Check out the video recap of Izzy’s championship performance in the video above, courtesy of High Call Media

Besides Izzy, no other rider in the rodeo’s junior division (age 7-12) made any barrel run in under 14 seconds, her father noted, adding that Izzy’s best run was also faster than all but one rider in the teenage division as well.

Izzy Coughlin’s aggregate time in all three rides was 42.823 seconds, putting her ahead of runner-up Cash Patten of Texas, who finished with an aggregate time of 43.262 seconds.

Besides winning a world champion belt buckle, a new saddle and various other prizes, Izzy also took home $8,500 for taking first place, plus an additional $1,000 bonus from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

World barrel racing champion Izzy Coughlin rides in celebratory fire truck parade, St. George, Utah, Dec. 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Tara Coughlin, St. George News

Back in St. George on Monday, after making the long trip back from Texas, Izzy received a warm welcome from her family, friends and neighbors. She even got to ride on a vintage fire truck with a “world champion” banner hanging from the side.

A few other fire trucks joined in the procession, as did Joe Dynamite in his horse trailer. The parade made its way past Bloomington Elementary, lights flashing and sirens blaring as Izzy’s classmates clapped and cheered.

Darren Coughlin said his daughter shares a special bond with her horse that enables them to compete so successfully.

“Joe’s a great horse and a lot of people could have success on him,” he said, “but the type of success that Izzy has with Joe, it’s just because those two click. It’s hard to explain. They are just very much an extension of each other.”

Izzy and Joe Dynamite previously won the barrel racing title at the National Little Britches Rodeo in Oklahoma in July.

Barrel racing champion Izzy Coughlin and her horse Joe Dynamite, date and location not specified | Photo by Malea Ellett, courtesy of Tara Coughlin, St. George News

Although COVID-19 restrictions prevented both the National Finals Rodeo and the Junior World Finals from being held in their usual Las Vegas venues this year, organizers in Texas stepped up and were able to arrange to have this year’s events hosted in the Lone Star State. Las Vegas Events officials were also instrumental in helping ensure the events could be moved and not be canceled altogether.

“It was about 1,100 miles farther for us than Vegas, but it was really neat,” Coughlin said. “In the Fort Worth stockyards, in that big Cowtown Coliseum, it’s very historic. It was just kind of surreal to run in that environment.”

With last week’s victory, Izzy has now qualified to compete in the American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas in March.

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

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