They are representing four generations of rodeo competitors, a span of almost 100 years.

By JOE KUSEK

August 26, 2021

Every time J Billingsley and his daughters Brooklyn and Bailey enter the arena, they are doing more than roping and racing.


They are representing four generations of rodeo competitors, a span of almost 100 years.


And they are representing it well.


Continuing a plan that began last summer, the Glasgow family can be found all over the Mountain Health Co-op Tour standings.


J Billingsley, has used three second-place finishes in August to leap-frog to the top of the tie-down roping standings with only two weekends remaining in the regular season.


The veteran roper, he turns 50 in September, has earned 50 percent of 2021 earnings in the month of August.


“It’s been a fun month,” said Billingsley of the second-place finishes at Townsend, Darby and Deer Lodge.


Brooklyn Billingsley, starting her freshman year at Glasgow High School, leads the junior barrel racing and all-around standings. She is also fourth in breakaway roping.


Bailey Billingsley, a sixth grader, is fourth in the junior all-around, fifth in breakaway roping and 11th in barrel racing.


Blaire Billingsley, a fourth grader, will be roping next, according to her father.


“They are the reason I’m out there,” said the elder Billingsley of his children. Billingsley first joined the Northern Rodeo Association in 1986 as an eighth-grader.


The girls are also fifth-generation family members living on the family ranch 10 miles west of Glasgow.


The girls are following the hoof prints set in arena dirt by their father, grandfather Jack and great-grandfather Jim.


“We’re all ropers,” said J.


Jack Billingsley finished third in the 1965 tie-down roping standings, while J’s best finish was fifth in 1996.


The plan to go NRA-heavy started in 2020.


“Last year, the goal was to make the NRA Finals,” said Billingsley.


Bailey qualified during the last rodeo and her father qualified eighth. “I’m the weakest link,” joked J.


“We were jacked … and they cancelled the Finals.”


The trio, with plenty of support and help from wife and mother LeeAnne, made it a goal again for 2021.


“I figure I’ve got one more year in me,” Billingsley said. “My mind knows what I want to do but my body can’t keep up.”


Billingsley opened the season with a second-place finish at Conrad. He added wins at Culbertson and Choteau and another second place at Opheim, along with a third place at Scobey.


“I am having a good year,” he said. “It’s good to be able to make the top 10. I just try to make good solid runs every time out.”


With a competitive fire that still burns hot, “Oh yeah. When I back in the box, I throw it all out there,” Billingsley said, he can also count on his horse Rio.


The sorrel gelding is 23 years old.


“He’s a special one,” said the owner who estimates he has run Rio in the practice pen just three or four times in the past few years. “Rio doesn’t make a mistake. He stands like a statue in the box. When you nod your head, you better be ready. It’s game on.”


Bailey Billingsley also rides Rio for breakaway roping.


“I’ve told people when Rio is done, I’m done,” J Billlingsley said.


Along with his own success, Billingsley’s real joy comes from watching his daughters create their own rodeo memories.


“I try to help the girls climb the ladder,” he said. “It’s been wonderful.


“I’m kind of past being a nervous parent. They’ve done it for so long, they know what to do. I don’t get too worried.”


And the daughters don’t get much time to be mad about sub-par performances.


“Working two events back to back, barrel racing to breakaway roping, there is no time to pout,” added Billingsley. “And I have my moments too.”


Billingsley’s chest stuck out a little more at Havre this summer. Brooklyn posted a time of 3.3 seconds in breakaway roping and Bailey followed with a 2.9, her first time with a throw in the two-second range. They would finish second and third.


“That was the highlight of the summer for me,” said the proud father.


The family will close out its Mountain Health Co-op Tour at Wibaux this weekend. Other rodeo commitments have them in other places during the Labor Day weekend.


“It’s been a super successful year for us,” said Billingsley.



NOTES

There were no changes in the standings leaders after Deer Lodge last weekend.


The Tour continues at Boulder (Aug. 27-28) and Wibaux (Aug. 28) this week.


Teenagers Brice Patterson and Sam Petersen continued their successful ways.


Patterson, of Bozeman won the steer wrestling and was second in bareback riding. Petersen, of Helena tied for second in steer wrestling and was third in bareback riding. Petersen won the national high school all-around title in July.


Andrew Evjene of Two Dot won his sixth saddle bronc title.



DEATHS

The NRA extends its condolences to the family of Phil Luman who died on Aug. 12 from Acute Myeloid Leukemia.


Luman was 75.


The long-time educator, roping with Glen Hough, formed one the most dominant team roping pairs in NRA history.


The two won five consecutive year-end championships (1972-76) and again in 1980 and 1981.


Luman also won a year-end title in 1994 with Ben Ayre.


Luman was also second in 1979 and 1983 before team roping headers and heelers were awarded separate championships.

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