Berry is triumphant in return

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Leighton Berry, who has missed the last seven months because of an injury, returned to his first rodeo since early January and took the bareback riding lead Wednesday night during the first performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. He was 89 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Short Night and edged his traveling partner by just one point.

DODGE CITY, Kan. – It’s been a long seven months for bareback rider Leighton Berry.

In January at Odessa, Texas, the 22-year-old cowboy was smashed in the bucking chutes and suffered torn ligaments in the mid- and lower region of his spine, between the T12 and L1 vertabrae. He followed that with surgery and rehabilitation, but he’s been missing something: Rodeo.

On Wednesday night during the first performance of the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, the Weatherford, Texas, bronc buster returned to the sport he loves for the first time since that fateful night in west Texas, and he didn’t miss a beat. He rode Frontier Rodeo’s Short Night for 89 points to take the early bareback riding lead and has assured himself a spot among the top 12 for Sunday’s championship round.

“I got to watch my traveling partner be 88 (points) right before I nodded my head, and that lit a fire under me,” Berry said, referring to Mason Clements, a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Spanish Fork, Utah. “We want our rig to win. I got to one-point him today, but this is awesome.”

Berry himself was just coming off his first qualification to the NFR, where he pocketed just shy of $80,000 in 10 days. He had big plans for the 2021 season, but he understands the things that can happen in the rough-and-tumble sport of rodeo.

“It was disappointing in the day whenever it happened, and I knew I was going to have something fixed,” he said. “I knew right then and there that I’ve overcome adversity before, and every time I’ve been hurt, I’ve been able to come back a little better and a little faster and a little stronger mentally.

“I took it right then and said, ‘God, this is you’re plan, and I’m just going to follow You, and I know it will all work out in the end.’ Here we are, and I feel like I’m on top of the world again.”

With seven months on injured reserve, Berry knows he’s behind the eight-ball to make back-to-back trips to ProRodeo’s grand finale, but he’s still got it on his mind.

“Since January, I’ve thought, ‘Don’t ever count me out, because I’ll change your mind and make it right,’ ” Berry said. “I know I’ve still got a chance, from what my traveling partners and buddies have been telling me.

“I’m just out here riding bucking horses, making a living doing it and having fun with my best friends. If I can continue to build my bareback riding back up … if I can come back stronger and better than ever, that’s all I can ask for.”

If he stays as hot as he did Wednesday night, he might just walk away from western Kansas with one of the most coveted prizes in rodeo: The Roundup Rodeo trophy buckle. He’ll have to match his skills and where he is physically and mentally on the final night of the rodeo against some incredible horsepower.

“Dodge City has one of the rankest short rounds there is,” he said. “There are top horses like Gun Fire, Showstomper and Full Baggage that are going to be out, and I’d like to see my name next to theirs. Riding rank bucking horses is what I’ve prided myself on; I haven’t had one underneath me in a while, so I’m excited for it.”

Dodge City Roundup Rodeo
Dodge City, Kan.
Aug. 4-8
Bareback riding leaders:
1. Leighton Berry, 89 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Short Night; 2. Mason Clements, 88; 3. (tie) Nate McFadden and Trenten Montero, 84.5; 5. Taylor Broussard, 83.5; 6. Jamie Howlett, 81; 7. Shane O’Connell, 78; 8. Ty Blessing, 76.

Steer wrestling: First round leaders: 1. Stetson Jorgensen, 3.8 seconds; 2. Payden McIntyre, 3.9; 3. Ty Erickson, 4.1; 4. Aaron Vosler, 4.3; 5. (tie) Justin Shaffer, Tucker Allen and Dalton Massey, 4.4; 8. (tie) Will Lummus, Clayton Hass and Ringo Robinson, 4.9. Second round leaders: 1. (tie) Blake Knowles and Dirk Tavenner, 3.4 seconds; 3. (tie) Tucker Allen and Clayton Hass, 3.9; 5. Mike McGinn, 4.2; 6. (tie) Ringo Robinson and Stetson Jorgensen, 4.5; 8. Justin Shaffer 4.9; 9. Eli Lord, 5.1; 10. Aaron Vosler, 5.6. Average leaders: 1. (tie) Tucker Allen and Stetson Jorgensen, 8.3 seconds on two runs; 3. Clayton Hass, 8.8; 4. Blake Knowles, 9.1; 5. Justin Shaffer, 9.3; 6. Ringo Robinson, 9.4; 7. Aaron Vosler, 9.9; 8. Payden McIntyre, 10.4; 9. Dalton Massey, 11.1; 10. Zack Jongbloed, 17.1.

Team roping: First round leaders: 1. Cooper Bruce/Reed Lewis Boos, 5.3 seconds; 2. Dalton Turner/Garrett Smith, 4.7; 3. Tyler Wade/Trey Yates, 5.9; 4. Erich Rogers/Paden Bray, 6.0; 5. J.B. James Jr./Brock Hanson, 6.2; 6. Jaxson Tucker/Marty Yates, 7.1; 7. Garrett Tonozzi/T.J. Watts, 9.8; 8. Chad Masters/Joseph Harrison, 10.8; 9. Luke Meier/Colton Michael reed, 11.6; 10. Pedro Egurrola/J.C. Flake, 12.2. Second round leaders: 1. Aaron Macy/Jason Johe, 4.5 seconds; 2. Luke Brown/Hunter Koch, 4.7; 3. Tyler Wade/Trey Yates, 4.9; 4. Dalton Turner/Garrett Smith, 5.6; 5. Seth Driggers/Trent Vaught, 14.4; 6. Pedro Egurrola/J.C. Flake, 19.4; no other qualified runs. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Wade/Trey Yates, 10.8 seconds on two runs; 2. Dalton Turner/Garret Smith, 11.3; 3. Aaron Macy/Jason Johe, 17.1; 4. Pedro Egurrola/J.C. Flake, 31.6; 5. Luke Brown/Hunter Koch, 4.7 seconds on one run; 6. Cooper Bruce/Reed Lewis Boos, 5.3; 7. Erich Rogers/Paden Bray, 6.0; 8. J.B. James R./Brock Hanson, 6.2; 9. Jaxson Tucker/Marty Yates, 7.1; 10. Garrett Tonozzi/T.J. Watts, 9.8.

Saddle bronc riding leaders: 1. (tie) K’s Thomson, on Frontier Rodeo’s Bad Attitude, Mitch Pollock, on Frontier Rodeo’s Watch Levi, and Jake Finlay, on Frontier Rodeo’s Push Pop, 84 points; 4. Kole Ashbacher, 83; 5. Ben Andersen, 81.5; 6. Wyatt Hageman, 81; 7. Tegan Smith, 80.5; 8. Layton Green, 77.

Tie-down roping: First round leaders: 1. Paden Bray, 8.9 seconds; 2. Riley Pruitt, 9.2; 3. Tyler Prcin, 9.3; 4. Kincade Henry, 9.4; 5. (tie) Taylor Santos and John Douch, 10.3; 7. Trent McDonald, 10.6; 8. (tie) Colton Farquer and Cory Solomon, 10.8; 10. Owen Wahlert, 11.1. Second round leaders: 1. Zack Jongbloed, 8.4 seconds; 2. Tyler Prcin, 8.8; 3. Wyatt Muggli, 9.1; 4. Riley Pruitt, 9.9; 5. Taylor Santos, 10.0; 6. Paden Bray, 10.3; 7. Brody Stallard, 14.7; 8. Macon Murphy, 18.2; 9. Monty Lewis, 18.3; 10. Kincade Henry, 18.8. Average leaders: 1. Tyler Prcin, 18.1 seconds on two runs; 2. Riley Pruitt, 18.1; 3. Paden Bray, 19.2; 4. Zack Jongbloed, 19.6; 5. Taylor Santos, 20.3; 6. Brody Stallard, 26.9; 7. Kincade Henry, 28.2; 8. Monty Lewis, 30.4; 9. Bo Pickett, 32.5; 10. Wyatt Muggli, 35.2.

Barrel racing: First round leaders: 1. Jill Wilson, 17.41; 2. Jessica Routier, 17.42; 3. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 17.59; 4. Ericka Nelson, 17.71; 5. (tie) Ari-Anna Flynn and Skyla Peters, 17.73; 7. Deb Cox, 17.74; 8. Amanda Welsh, 17.75; 9. Jean Winters, 17.79; 10. Stephanie Fryar, 17.81. Second round leaders: 1. Jessica Routier, 17.19 seconds; 2. Michelle Darling, 17.25; 3. Ericka nelson, 17.35; 4. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 17.41; 5. Ari-Anna Flynn, 17.42; 6. Ivy Saebens, 17.45; 7. Stephanie Fryar, 17.48; 8. Skyla Peters, 17.57; 9. (tie) Donna Tippen and Amanda Welsh, 17.58. Average leaders: 1. Jessica Routier, 34.61 seconds on two runs; 2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, 35.00; 3. Ericka Nelson, 35.06; 4. Ari-Anna Flynn, 35.15; 5. Jill Wilson, 35.25; 6. Stephanie Fryar, 35.29; 7. Skyla Peters, 35.30; 8. Amanda Welsh, 35.33; 9. Jean Winters, 35.47; 10. Donna Tippen, 35.62.

Bull riding leaders: 1. Eli Vastbinder, 84.5 points on Frontier Rodeo’s Judgement Day; 2. Bubba Greig, 82; 3. Fulton Rutland, 78; 4. Braden Richardson, 77.5; no other qualified rides.


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