NRA Regular Season Has Concluded
By JOE KUSEK
September 14, 2023
On the surface, the ride wasn’t much.
Just 59 points in one of rodeo’s most physically demanding events.
Another score at another rodeo, soon to be forgotten.
Not this one.
The 59-point bareback ride by Parker Mothershead during the Labor Day weekend in Hamilton created a seismic shift in the all-around cowboy standings for the Northern Rodeo Association.
The score was good enough for Mothershead to place fifth and walk away with a $174 check.
That check rocketed the teenager celebrating his 18thbirthday to the top of the all-around standings heading into the NRA Finals presented by nuWest Builders in Kalispell.
The Finals, which showcase the top 10 in each event, is Oct. 26-28 at Majestic Valley Arena.
The event will crown year-end champions in nine events and two all-around titles.
With higher payouts this year, every qualifier has a mathematical opportunity to be called champion.
The Mountain Health Co-op Tour regular season concluded with rodeos in Hamilton and Helmville.
Mothershead, of Joliet, already punched his ticket to the NRA Finals in saddle bronc riding. He is the winningest cowboy of the summer with $9,506 earned in his specialty. It is the most won for an individual event.
“I entered the bareback riding to go for the all-around,” explained Mothershead. “I saw that if I just made one dollar in another event, I would be leading the all-around by $1,000.”
It was his very first bareback ride. Ever.
“Those were my very first bareback rides ever,” Mothershead said of entering Hamilton and Helmville. “And yes, I was pretty nervous. But I just knew I had to cowboy up and get through it.”
He will take a lead of $1,494 over two-event qualifier and fellow teenager Mitch Detton of Great Falls into the NRA Finals.
Detton qualified in tie-down roping and steer wrestling. Other two-event qualifiers for the Finals are Ben Ayre (steer wrestling, tie-down roping) and Coby King (steer wrestling, team roping).
“Honestly, it really hasn’t fully set in that I’m leading the all-around,” said Mothershead. “I think when I’m at the Finals everything will be all set and sink in.”
The all-around cowboy race wasn’t the only event to see changes at the top after Hamilton and Helmville.
The final regular season weekend produced new leaders for steer wrestling, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, team roping headers and team roping heelers.
Cole Detton, Mitch’s older brother, swept the steer wrestling at Hamilton and Helmville for $1,675 to leap over a host of others to the top spot. Detton won the year-end title in 2021. Detton earned $3,281 thought August and early September.
Jack McAllister swung a sizzling rope down the stretch, pocketing $3,514 through the last 11 rodeos to take the lead in tie-down roping. The money won included wins at Livingston ($1,308) and Hamilton ($1,206) for the timed event competitor from Hot Springs.
Like a predator stalking its prey, Shawn Bird of Cut Bank and Livingston’s Zachary Schweigert quietly climbed the team roping standings. The pair earned $1,070 at Boulder and their $1,134 win at Hamilton allowed them to pass Chad Turner of East Helena and Helena’s Gavin Beattie. Turner and Beattie had led the team roping standings since the Mountain Health Co-Op Tour opener in Conrad.
Celie Salmond shared fourth in Hamilton and placed third at Helmville to regain the breakaway roping standings lead. She also placed third in team roping with her father Mark in Hamilton. The reigning two-time all-around cowgirl from Choteau will be trying to become the first Northern Women’s Rodeo Association competitor to win three consecutive breakaway roping titles.
Jordan Larson of Charlo extended his lead in the bareback standings, going 91 points at Helmville.
Wolf Creek’s Payton Levine won the breakaway roping at Conrad to start her season. She ended her summer with a lightning-quick time of 1.8 seconds to win the finale at Helmville. The 1.8-second loop is the fastest of the summer.
The senior at Augusta High School earned $3,694, in August and September, the most of any competitor. She doubled her fun with checks in both breakaway roping and barrel racing at Superior, Livingston and Helmville.
The money won lifted her to second in the all-around cowgirl standings where she has a Salmond sister on each side. Celie Salmond leads while Molly is third. The Salmonds are the only two cowgirls to qualify in both events.