STANFIELD — Josie Goodrich grew up in the sport of rodeo.

Her dad, Brad, is a six-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo in tie-down roping, and a past tie-down champion at the Pendleton Round-Up and Farm-City Pro Rodeo.

Her younger brother, Gator, is a roping prodigy, and her mom, Jodi, is a barrel racer.

Josie, a 2020 Hermiston High School graduate, competed when she was younger, and her freshman year of high school, but she chose to put school first the past two years.

Last summer, with just one year left to compete, Josie got a new horse named Keeper. Together, they have dominated the high school scene.

They teamed to win the Oregon High School Rodeo Association barrel racing title June 18-20 in Prineville, and earn a trip to the High School National Finals Rodeo next month.

“He’s helped me fall in love with the sport again,” Josie said of Keeper. “He’s 15 years old — he’s a little older, but he is finished, which is nice. The key in this event is consistency. He wants to do it. He has speed and strength. He’s a very smooth ride.”

The Goodriches bought Keeper from Sue Gibbs of Heppner, who trained and competed on him.

“Sue trained him and did a nice job,” Josie said.

The NHSFR will be held July 17-23 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Athletes from 43 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia and Mexico are scheduled to compete for titles, prizes and college scholarships.

It’s the first trip to nationals for Josie, who will be joined in Oklahoma by her brother Gator (tie-down) and Alyson Terry (pole bending), who are incoming sophomores at Hermiston High School.

“I am nervous because I feel I can do pretty good,” Josie said. “I have confidence in my horse. I’m excited because it is my first time.”

State competition

The high school rodeo season, which typically has 12 dates, was limited to nine this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state finals in Prineville, were held with strict distancing protocols. The girls competed in their events early in the day, while the boys competed in the afternoon. Participants were limited to parents only, and were asked to leave the facility after their events.

Goodrich led the state barrel racing standings heading into state. There, she was fourth in the first round with a time of 17.017 seconds around the three barrels. She then turned in a run of 16.765 seconds to finish second in the second round to earn a spot in the short go, which featured the top 10 athletes in each event.

On her final run, Goodrich and Keeper clocked a 16.960 to finish first. They also finished atop the leaderboard for the state title.

It was the first time Josie had won a rodeo title of any significance since she was 8 years old.

“I had one last year and I wanted to go out with a bang,” said Josie, who brought home a custom championship saddle and $5,775 in scholarship money. “When I first started this year, it was for fun. Then I thought, this could go somewhere.”

Josie was back on the rodeo trail this week, competing at the Kickin’ Corona Rodeo in Ogden, Utah. She also is competing in Pocatello, Idaho, trying to earn a spot for the Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Championship in December.

Josie will attend Washington State University in the fall, where she will study criminal justice law enforcement administration. She also will compete as an independent on the college rodeo circuit.

Tie-down roping

Gator, who won the ribbon roping title at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo last summer, placed fourth at state to earn a trip to nationals.

Gator had an edge in the point standings heading into state, and while things got off to a good start, they took a turn for the worse on the second calf.

Riding Ruby in the first two rounds at state, Gator turned in a run of 10.5 seconds in the first round.

His second run did not go as well, as his rope got caught up in the calf’s tail. When he untangled the rope, the loop came loose from the head, giving him no time for the run.

On his final run in the short go, Gator put his trust in Goldilocks, a 20-year-old quarter horse with a championship resumé. They posted a time of 11 seconds to finish second and wrap up fourth place.

“I was leading all year, and one calf took me out of that,” Gator said. “I’ll see what I can do at nationals.”

Gator is one of a handful of freshmen headed to nationals. He rather likes the role of underdog.

“I’m the No. 4 guy from Oregon and I’m a freshman,” Gator said. “I have nothing to lose. I’m more nervous when I’m on top. You have to try and keep your lead.”

Gator is fortunate to learn from one of the best in his own backyard.

“He’s tough, but that’s how you get better,” Gator said of his dad.

Gator will ride Goldilocks at nationals. The horse has helped the likes of Trevor Brazile and Tuf Cooper earn a pile of cash.

“She’s a good one,” Gator said.

Pole Bending

Terry also was leading her event going into state. She had two bad rounds to open state, but she still had enough points to earn a spot in the short go.

She picked up four points in the short go and finished fifth — three points behind the fourth-place finisher. Terry secured a spot at nationals when the fourth-place participant opted to skip nationals.

“I didn’t make any clean runs,” Terry said. “I didn’t think I would make it to the top 10. I was really lucky.”

Terry, who competes with her 7-year-old quarter horse, Annie, is excited for nationals.

“It will be very competitive,” she said. “My horse is young and still has a lot to learn.”

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