Pickton cowgirl gunning for National Finals title

Sadie Johnson rides her way to the top of the ranks in Texas high school rodeo

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

July 18, 2008 - Ropin' and ridin' her way to what's been called "the world's largest rodeo" is 16-year-old Sadie Johnson of Pickton, who will be traveling to Farmington, N.M., this weekend, to compete at the 60th Annual National High School Finals Rodeo.

The event, which will take place July 20-26, will feature more than 1,500 contestants from 41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia, all vying for more than $200,000 in prizes and $325,000 in college scholarships, as well as the chance to be named the National High School Rodeo National Champion.

Sadie, a soon-to-be 11th grader home-schooled through the A Beka Academy, is a member of several rodeo associations, competing in team roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, barrel racing and pole bending.

"Of course, I'm extremely proud of her," said Kathy Johnson, Sadie's mom. "It's nice to see all her practice is finally paying off."

The youngest of Tom Ray and Kathy Johnson's three children has won the title of Four States High School Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl for 2007 and 2008 and continues to work hard to gain as many titles as she can.

Sadie currently is in Shawnee, Okla., competing at the International Professional Youth Rodeo before she heads to New Mexico to compete in the National Finals.

"She works real hard at it," said Tom Ray, her proud father. "And the thing about it is, these are her accomplishments. We don't take a stick to her -- she takes it upon herself to practice every day and take care of her horses."

The family owns anywhere from 25 to 30 horses at any given time.

As a freshman, Sadie was the 2007 Texas High School Rodeo Association Region IV Breakaway Champion and qualified for state in breakaway roping, as well as goat tying. This past year, as a sophomore, she qualified for state in four events: breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending and cutting.

"She has paid her dues," said Tom, who described his daughter as hard-working and self-motivated. "I've seen that baby cry many times, but she just continued to pay her entry fees and work hard."

The Texas High School State Rodeo Finals gathers the top 100 cowboys and cowgirls from across the state to compete for the title of state champion in their event(s) and the honor to represent the Lone Star State at the Finals.

Sadie earned her position on the Texas state rodeo team in breakaway roping.

In order to qualify for Nationals, a contestant must first compete in two rounds of competition against the top 100 cowboys and cowgirls in their event. The times of the rounds are added together to determine who qualifies for the short round at the State Finals. The fastest 10 times of the 100 entered are taken to the short round, then these top 10 compete. All three rounds are then added together and the top four contestants move on to Nationals to represent Texas.

At State Finals, Sadie placed in the top six in the first round of breakaway with a time of 2.6 seconds. She had another 2.6 run in the second round, placing her 5th and giving her a time that was good enough to qualify her for the short round, sitting in the 3rd place spot. She placed 5th in the short round. After all three times were added together, she was tied for the third and fourth place position, allowing her to advance to Nationals.

Sadie hopes to win a scholarship and continue her rodeoing in college

"I think rodeoing will definitely be apart of her life from now on," said Kathy.

Sadie is the little sister of Tode and Rhandi Johnson.

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