Moody wins NFR titleLAS VEGAS — Jill Moody was not satisfied with her 10th and final go-round of the barrel racing competition at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Saturday night. The Letcher native completed her run in 13.85 seconds, which was her third-worst time of the 10-day competition. But it ended up being good enough.
By: Travis Mester, The Daily Republic
LAS VEGAS — Jill Moody was not satisfied with her 10th and final go-round of the barrel racing competition at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on Saturday night.
The Letcher native completed her run in 13.85 seconds, which was her third-worst time of the 10-day competition.
But it ended up being good enough.
Moody took home her second career NFR average title and was named the reserve world champion in the event.
“I was actually a little disappointed in my run,” Moody said Sunday afternoon. “I knew what needed to happen for me to win, and Sherry (Cervi) was very capable of posting a time to beat me.”
Moody led the average standings by just two-hundredths of a second over Cervi entering the final run.
After finishing her run, Moody had to watch Cervi, who had clinched the world championship in the event after Friday’s ninth go-round, take to the course with a chance to snatch the average title for herself.
But Cervi knocked over the third barrel during her run and finished in 18.86 seconds.
“After the ninth round, it was really close,” Moody said. “I needed to outrun her in the 10th round and having to go first, it made it a bit nervous having to watch her once I was done.”
But in the end, it was Moody that outlasted a field that she called the toughest barrel racing competition she has ever seen. On her way to the championship, Moody and her horse, Dolly, broke the 25-year-old NFR barrel racing average record. Charmayne James’ mark of 138.93 was set in 1986. Moody finished her 10 rounds with a score of 138.26 on her way to a $44,910 payout for the average title.
“You can’t go into a competition with that caliber or horses and just make 10 clean runs and expect to win,” Moody said. “This year, these girls were really, really tight all the way through.
“I had eight good runs and one mediocre run and one kind of crappy run. But, the numbers added up.”
Moody, 45, also rode Dolly to the average championship at the NFR in 2008.
Then, Dolly came down with pneumonia and was forced to miss the 2009 season.
“You always wonder, when your horse has an illness or an injury of any type, how they’ll come back,” Moody said of Dolly, a 10-year-old gray mare. “She came back as strong, or stronger, than ever.”
Moody said she knew what needed to happen for her to clinch the title entering Cervi’s final run. Apparently, her faithful fans also were aware.
“My mom and dad were standing in the stands and cheering so my sister had to pull them down,” Moody said. “It is inappropriate to cheer when someone knocks over a barrel, but I think they were pretty excited.”
Lisa Lockhard, an Oelrichs native, placed third in the barrel racing competition with an average score of 144.09.
Other South Dakota competitors at the NFR included Agar native Joe Gunderson, who took seventh in the average standings in the bareback riding competition.
Todd Suhn, a Hermosa native, placed sixth in the steer wrestling competition.
Belvidere’s Jeff Willert and Quinn’s J.J. Elshere each competed in the saddle bronc competition.
Elshere took fourth in the saddle bronc average standins, while Willert placed 10th.