DUNCAN, Okla. – Tracy Nowlin needed everything the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo could offer last October.
Nowlin knew she didn’t have a chance to win the circuit championship, so her only hope at qualifying for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo was to walk away from Stephens County Arena with the average title.
She accomplished that goal, rounding the pattern in a three-run cumulative time of 48.36 seconds; it guided her to Kissimmee, Fla., in April, where she won the first round at the RNCFR.
This year, it seems, Nowlin is hoping to avoid those last-minute heroics. She has a substantial lead in the Prairie Circuit barrel racing standings, having earned $9,500 through May 21. She owns a lead of nearly $4,400 over the reigning circuit champ, Emily Miller of Weatherford, Okla.
If everything goes as she hopes, Nowlin will be the No. 1 cowgirl when she enters the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19-Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
Of her earnings so far this year, the biggest chunk came in the Oklahoma Panhandle, where Nowlin – of Nowata, Okla. – won the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo title. She placed in both rounds to win the average and pocketed $4,820. It’s the biggest circuit rodeo so far this season, but there are plenty of other big events set for the rest of the region season.
“I think I have the circuit finals made, but it would be a dream come true to win the circuit,” said Nowlin, who earned more than $6,300 in Duncan last October.
She finished the campaign with $17,706, and already this year has more than half that with most of the circuit season left. In fact, she had accumulated her $9,500 through just six events. More importantly, she is the biggest money-earner of all competitors in the circuit, made up of rodeos and contestants primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
Behind her tie-down roper Ryan Jarrett of Comanche, Okla., who has earned more than $7,700. He owns a lead of more than $2,200 over the No. 2 man, Bryson Sechrist of Apache, Okla.
Other leaders are all-around cowboy Trell Etbauer of Goodwell, Okla.; bareback rider Anthony Thomas of Palestine, Texas; J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn.; header Brett Christensen of Alva, Okla.; heeler Dawson McMaster of Madison, Kan.; saddle bronc rider Joe Lufkin of Sallisaw, Okla.; bull rider Brad Harris of Udall, Kan.; and steer roper Chet Herren of Pawhuska, Okla., who has a lead of just $33 over traveling partner Rocky Patterson of Pratt, Kan., a four-time world champion.
The 2017 circuit champions won’t be crowned until October in Duncan, but it will be a big race over the next four and a half months to see what happens.