Jody Sarchett Ropes Down Memory Lane

July 17, 2020

As her mother maneuvered the family truck and horse trailer toward the rodeo arena in Harlowton, Jody Sarchett sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window as the memories started flooding back.


It had been two decades since Sarchett roped at one of the Fourth of July mainstay rodeos for the Northern Rodeo Association and Northern Women’s Rodeo Association.


During the late 1980’s and the entire 1990s, Harlowton fans, along with NRA/NWRA fans across the state watched Sarchett (then Jody Petersen) transform from a talented Three Forks schoolgirl to a young woman whose horsemanship and roping skills earned her scholarships to Vernon Regional Junior College and Tarleton State, two powerhouse collegiate rodeo programs in Texas.


Sarchett had won junior all-around, barrel racing and breakaway roping titles in the NRA/NWRA junior events in the late 1980’s and added consecutive breakaway roping titles (1996-97) along with the NWRA all-around title in 1997.


“I love the NRA,” said Sarchett, who lives in Cave Creek, Ariz., with her husband Nick and 11-year-old son Ryker. “To be competitive enough in the NRA to get a college scholarship, I owe that to the NRA.


“If you can be competitive in the NRA, you can be competitive anywhere. I owe the NRA for my success.”


Sarchett was in Harlowton to compete in the breakaway roping, while Ryker was competing in the junior breakaway roping. Sarchett and her family were back in Three Forks, visiting her mother Nancy and father Carl. Nancy Petersen, an accomplished saddle maker, is also a former NRA/NWRA competitor and owns Three Forks Saddlery with her husband.


As Sarchett walked around the grounds, she was able to renew many past acquaintances.


“Oh my gosh, I had so much fun in Harlowton,” she said. “There were so many people that I knew.”


Those former competitors were there with their own children. “I told those parents they needed to be out there with me,” Sarchett finished with a laugh.


It was a good rodeo for mother and son with Jody winning the women’s breakaway roping in 2.9 seconds while Ryker won the junior event with a time of 2.8 seconds.


Both rode Ryker’s horse Stella, a nine-year-old black mare raised and trained by the family.


“He was so excited to win Harlowton,” said Sarchett of her son who has been competing since the age of five. “He told everybody he beat me. But the score for juniors was four feet shorter, I had to remind him of that.


“I get very nervous for him. It’s exciting to see him do well.”


The two also competed at Ennis during the Fourth of July weekend but did not place. Sarchett had a time of 2.8 seconds but broke the barrier for a 10-second penalty.


Harlowton and Ennis were just two of some of the NRA/NWRA rodeos the two had hoped to enter in July but the COVID-19 pandemic has altered their schedule.


“The goal was to compete up here for maybe a month or so of rodeos and maybe come back in August,” Sarchett said. “I looked forward to competing in as many as I could this summer.”


The return to the NRA/NWRA is also part of her return to breakaway roping. “It’s been about 20 years,” she said.

Sarchett has fed her competitive fire over the years by team roping, pocketing $61,500 at an event in 2012.


“My husband encouraged me to get back into breakaway roping,” she said. Nick Sarchett is a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier in team roping.


Using a horse borrowed from her mother, Sarchett began fine-tuning her breakaway roping skills in January at the family’s five-acre place in Arizona. Some early practice sessions went well, others, not so well.


“Yes, I struggled at times,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if this was going to work. In breakaway roping, you have to get your horse to work just right with you and I had to get my body reflexes back.”


Sarchett also noticed a major change in the event since she last flashed a rope.


“I was the oldest one. I was shocked,” she said with another good laugh. “That didn’t dawn on me when I went back, that I would be the oldest one out there.”


Along with roping with her son and visiting family, Sarchett has been taking care of her job back in Arizona. She is the executive vice-president of sales for the Arizona Division of the Marsh and McLennan Agency. Sarchett, who earned her degree in finance at Tarleton State is also on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix and involved with Chicanos Por La Causa an organization that is an advocate for underserved individuals and communities.


Should her money won this summer qualify for the NRA/NWRA Finals in Kalispell this October, she will definitely be making a return trip to her home state.


“Of course. It’s an easy plane ride away,” said Sarchett. “I’m already looking forward to next year.”


Last week


Jade Gardner of Winnett ran his tie-down roping win streak to three straight at Malta. Gardner pocketed $1,080 with a time of 10.1 seconds. Gardner, who also won at Harlowton and Ennis during the Fourth of July run, has earned the most money for a single event this season.


Caleb Meeks of Geraldine, J2 Bridges of Dillon and Charlo’s Abby Knight became two-time winners for the summer.


Meeks used an 84-point ride to win the saddle bronc competition while Knight went 15.54 seconds to win the barrel racing. Bridges, a former champion, was 77 points to win the bareback competition.


The season continues Thursday with the annual Daniels County Fair Rodeo in Scobey and heads to Eureka on, July 24 and 25.

By JOE KUSEK