Who says you can’t have the weekend of your life two weekends in a row?
Sierra Lyons is definitely going to try.
The Northwest College sophomore from Lander captured the barrel racing crown at the University of Montana rodeo last Saturday with runs so good her coach Del Nose exclaimed “‘Holy buckets.’ I went wild.”
Her time of 35.31 seconds was .11 better than second place and left her in fourth in the regional all-around.
This weekend Lyons is going to participate not only in regular-season-ending Big Sky Region rodeo hosted by the University of Great Falls, but in graduation exercises in Powell.
This means her new event will be long-distance driving. With reinforcements from parents at the wheel and friends handling her horses, Lyons plans to compete in Great Falls on Friday, drive to Powell on Saturday morning, and be back in Great Falls to compete later Saturday.
It is 305 miles from Powell to Great Falls.
“I will get in a little snoozing,” she said.
Neither Lyons nor the rest of the Northwest rodeo team has been caught dozing lately.
The men took an enormous step towards clinching the 2016-2017 Big Sky team title with victory at Montana. That was the Trappers’ fifth straight rodeo triumph, an impressive rarity.
“This team is very special,” Nose said. “These guys are the real deal.”
With only the Great Falls rodeo remaining, the Trappers have a 646.5-point lead in the fall-spring standings over Montana Western.
For Northwest to lose, Nose said, “We’ve got to fall on our faces and they’ve got to have a heck of a rodeo.”
Not likely based on recent performances and with cowboys highly motivated to finish in the top three in the region for College Finals Rodeo qualifying.
The top two teams in the Big Sky also go to Casper for the June 11-17 championships.
Last week the points were piled up by Bubba Boots, first place with partner Matt Williams in team-roping, second in the all-around and fifth in tie-down roping; Caleb McMillan, first in tie-down, third in the all-around and fourth in bulls; Wes Mann, third in saddle bronc; and Jake Davis, second-place tie in bulls.
Even more importantly for qualifying, Northwest competitors rank highly, with Boots leading the all-around, steer wrestling and team roping with Williams; McMillan third in the all-around and first in tie-down; Mann and Emilio Reyna third in team roping and Davis third in bulls.
“They can’t even catch me,” McMillan said of his lead in tie-down roping.
This spring-semester surge by the Trappers makes up for an average autumn.
“We’re going pretty good,” McMillan said. “We didn’t really have our stuff together in the fall. We’re getting the hang of it. Five in a row. It’s pretty cool to watch.”
In tune with the men’s streak, Lyons’ partnership with her 13-year-old horse Juno has been an arrow pointed up on a graph chart.
When Lyons was a junior in high school the horse she was grooming for college competition broke its leg. Juno was her sister Shana’s horse and she gave it to Sierra as a gift.
“We clicked from there,” Lyons said.
She’s not asking for much now. Just a repeat of last week’s rodeo in Great Falls.
“I can’t wait for this weekend,” Lyons said.
Hundreds of miles of driving may take up most of her time, but the 35-or-so seconds on Juno may be the most important time spent.
(Lew Freedman can be reached at email@example.com.)