I’m not sure I can say anything that hasn’t been said. Not sure I can add any profound wisdom. But I’m so thankful for those that keep me protected. I’m incredibly humbled that I can simply write my rodeo column while others commit so much more toward the safety and well-being of our community.

I have no idea what Kittitas County Deputy Ryan Thompson went through that night. I have no idea what Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez went through that night. All I know is I’m forever thankful for their unconditional service. I hope my prayers of peace for not only those two, but their families and friends are heard. It’s not a big deal that I write about who won a go-round last week or who earned a buckle. But it is a big deal that I’m free to do so because those two and the countless others in this community protect my home, my family and my neighbors.

Thank you.

With the National Circuit Finals wrapped up on Sunday, it was yet another week where big money counted toward the world standings. We’ll get to last weekend’s specific numbers in a moment, but this is by far the most money we’ve seen accrued at this point in the season and it’s not even the end of March. Every event leader (not counting steer roping) has at least $66,000 won so far. Two event leaders are at more than $100,000. Biggest change this year is the fact that chunks of Houston and American paydays count toward the PRCA’s world standings. But that shouldn’t take away from other major paydays we’ve already discussed plenty this winter. The PRCA and individual committees need to make sure they’re doing all they can to line a contestant’s pockets with cash.

Nothing makes sense about rodeoing. Contestants travel thousands of miles and pay thousands of dollars just to get to the dance. Nothing is guaranteed after that. In life it doesn’t make sense to drive all night to an airport, take a last-minute flight to middle of nowhere, and see what plays out. In rodeo that’s called Wednesday. What a sport. What a lifestyle.

Back to the circuit finals. Lisa Lockhart doubled her season earnings in one weekend. The South Dakota barrel racer placed in both rounds and won the two-head average. From there she split third in the semifinal round before winning the final round for a $26,154 paycheck. New team roping partners Clay Smith and Jake Long put together an equally lucrative weekend, winning the first round, placing in the average and semifinals before winning the short round. Their result? $25,207.

Local ropers Brady and Riley Minor didn’t win five-digit money, but they still earned a couple of checks. They placed in the first round and were in the sixth and final hole for a small average payout. They moved on to the semifinals where they earned third-place money and left Kissimmee, Fla., with $5,976 to push their season total to $52,200, good for fourth in the world standings.

Event winners at Rodeo Austin will pocket $10,000-plus this weekend, which just adds to the overwhelming pot of money already dished out this season.

Let’s go even more local and discuss what’s in store within our county borders. The CWU rodeo team hosts its annual stop on the collegiate schedule in mid-April, while a high school rodeo stop — yes, that’s right, it’s finally back in Ellensburg — takes place the final weekend of April. That’s followed by the Clem Kayser Memorial (breakaway and calf roping) the first Saturday in May, with Bares and Broncs set for mid-May. Looks like a great slate of events with an easy drive.

Be safe and be a good person. Take care of the people who take care of you.

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