Celie Salmond’s roping is matching the weather.
By JOE KUSEK
June 29, 2021
Celie Salmond’s roping is matching the weather.
The Choteau cowgirl started her 2021 by winning the breakaway roping at Conrad, the first event of the season for the Northern Women’s Rodeo Association.
She followed with back-to-back victories at Gardiner and Wilsall on the same weekend. After hitting a cool spot in Big Timber, Salmond rebounded less than 24 hours later with a win at Polson.
For those keeping track, that’s five rodeos entered and four victories.
The four wins by an individual are the most for the Mountain Health Co-op NRA Tour.
“I guess I was a little surprised, I’m not going to lie,” Salmond said of her blistering start. “Everything has worked out. I drew good calves and used them.”
And she wouldn’t mind if that arena hot streak continues during the Fourth of July run.
“I hope it continues through the Fourth,” said Salmond.
She is scheduled to compete in Harlowton on July 2, rope in Ennis on July 3 and finish at her hometown rodeo in Choteau on July 4.
“Yeah, it can make a difference,” Salmond said of the pivotal weekend in rodeo. “Three rodeos in a weekend with pretty good money … that can set you up pretty good in the (NWRA) Finals or at least put you in a good position to qualify.”
Salmond has pocketed $2,720 for 9.9 seconds of work in the breakaway roping, an average of $274 per second on every successful loop thrown.
The money won has rocketed her to first place in the year-end standings. She also leads the all-around cowgirl standings after placing third in barrel racing at Gardiner and fifth at Conrad.
“The main goal this season is to win the breakaway roping title,” said Salmond.
She qualified for the 2020 NRA/NWRA Finals for the event, “But we had no Finals,” Salmond said of the COVID pandemic cancelling the organization’s premier event.
Salmond is no stranger to NRA/NWRA competition. She won three consecutive junior all-around titles (2007-09) along with the junior barrel racing crown in 2008. Salmond was also fourth among the adults in the 2018 all-around standings and has qualified for the Finals in barrel racing.
“I’ve never won the breakaway roping,” Salmond said.
Her mother Mary is the winningest cowgirl in NWRA history while father Mark is a talented team roper. Younger sister Molly is second to Celie in this year’s breakaway roping standings. While Celie came up empty at Big Timber, Molly won the event to keep the money in the family.
“We try to practice every other day,” said Salmond. “For the most part, we try to travel together.”
Salmond is competing aboard her horse Hot Shot, a 14-year-old gelding, for her roping.
“There is nothing special about him. He’s just a good cow horse,” she said. “He does get nervous. Keeping him calm is our main problem.”
A 2020 graduate of Montana State in elementary education, Salmond spent the past year teaching a combined first and second grade class in Augusta. She will return to teach first grade this fall.
“I really love Augusta,” said Salmond, who also began pursuit of her masters degree in agricultural education this past spring. “The kids are great. Most come from ranching and we talk about that a lot.”
Sometimes she was asked to do more outside the classroom.
“We’re a small school, we would get asked to scrimmage with the basketball and volleyball teams,” said Salmond who was a standout volleyball player at Choteau. “That was fun.”
She is back home this summer helping at the family ranch. But weekends are for rodeo.
“I’m going to try and hit as many NRA rodeos as I can this summer,” she said. “A lot of it is luck of the draw. We’ll take it one rodeo at a time and keep plugging away.
“I’m happy with the way things are going.”
With a big weekend at Wisall and Gardiner, Trevin Baumann of Hardin as jumped in the lead for the all-around cowboy standings. He won both the steer wrestling and tie-down roping at Wilsall and won the tie-down roping at Gardiner while placing second in steer wrestling. Baumann won the NRA all-around title in 2017 along with the steer wrestling …
… Sam Petersen of Helena and Crow Agency’s Tucker Zingg have been double winners in bareback riding. Zingg won Culbertson and Poplar while Petersen was a winner at Gardiner and Big Timber. Caleb Meeks won the saddle bronc competitions at Culbertson and Poplar.
… Barrel racer Bella Fossum of Billings has put the most miles on her truck this summer. She has cashed six checks, including a win at Conrad and a tie for first at Poplar to go along with second place finishes at Culbertson and Opheim.
… There have been eight different winners in bull riding at eight different rodeos.
… Team ropers Shayne Bishop and Chris Barthelmess have been consistent. The pair won Culbertson with a time of 6.2 seconds and recently tied for first at Opheim, with a time of, you guessed it, 6.2 seconds.