Some 158 of the toughest high school breakaway ropers were after a National High School Finals Rodeo Championship, but when the dust had settled in Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Lazy E, Hooter Murphy from Keatchie, Louisiana, claimed the 2020 NHSFR Breakaway Roping World Title.
When Lincoln, Nebraska, was unable to hold the 2020 National High School Finals Rodeo, the Lazy E and National High School Rodeo Association stepped up and held the largest rodeo in the world, with over 1,400 contestants from all over the world.
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“Personally, I loved having the finals in Guthrie,” Murphy said. “I knew that it being indoor, everybody would have a fair chance. I think everyone was just thankful for the opportunity to go rodeo, and having it indoors was just the cherry on top.”
Murphy, a senior, was competing at her last NHSFR in three events—breakaway roping, barrel racing and pole bending.
“Coming into the finals, my main goal was to win the All-Around. My freshman year, I won the Rookie All-Around and ended up 11 in the barrels, and after that, I had not made a short-go until this year. I kept telling myself when things weren’t going my way, its gotta pay off somehow—just keep going, and it did, so I’m very thankful that it went well, and I can’t complain at all,” Murphy said.
Murphy was 2.4 in the first round and 3.08 in the second round, making her 5.48 seconds on two head, putting her sixth high call back in the short round. High call for the short round was 5.15 seconds on two head, and 20 back was 7.17 seconds on two head.
With only a two second split, anything could happen in the short round. Murphy was surrounded by some really tough girls from all over the country—along with three of her teammates from her home state of Louisiana.
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“I wouldn’t want anyone else to be coming back to the short go right there with me other than my friends from the same state. You just don’t see that very often. That’s pretty cool. I would be just as happy for them if they had won it because they deserve it just as much as I do. That’s the awesome thing about rodeo–there’s a bunch of people rodeoing, but it’s such a small world. It doesn’t matter if you miss your calf, hit a barrel, or get bucked off your bronc—everybody is there for each other, and that’s rodeo,” Murphy said.
“You know my dad and I talked about it, and I told myself before the short go, I just had to worry about me. I wasn’t going to worry about what anyone else did before me, after me, I was just gonna go out there and do what I knew how to do, and let it all work itself out,” Murphy stated. “When Josie Conner was a 1.88 right before me, I just I told myself, ‘don’t worry about it, just go make your own run.’ I had to be a 2.38 or faster to take over the lead, and thank gosh the announcer said it in the middle of my run and not before I rode in the box, because I probably would have fell off my horse right then and there!”
Once Murphy and her amazing equine partner, PistolPete, backed in the box, it was business as usual for the duo.
“I got in the corner and the last thing I told myself was to cowgirl up and do the best you can,” Murphy said. “I had a really good calf and I knew I got a good start on him. He kinda peeled off to the right just a little bit towards the stands, and when I thought I could catch him, I let him have it. There wasn’t a whole lot to it, and it couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Hooter made a 2.33-second run, making her 7.81 seconds on three—putting her first in the average with the top five cowgirls still left to rope.
“By the time the third girl went, I was like you know, is God really about to make this happen? I just had this feeling like, this is strange, there’s no way He’s gonna make me a national champion. The last girl didn’t have any luck and I knew right then, and my mind was just blown. I came back 6 and I honestly did not think that I would be the national champion,” Murphy said. “You know .05 of a second was how much room I had. I just stuck to my game plan and I told myself to do the same thing I had been doing all week. The best thing you can do is have a game plan and stick to it.”
Winning is nothing new to the Murphy family, as their rodeo roots run deep. Hooter is following in the footsteps of her family members who have had their own success in the NHSRA.
“My grandpa, Gary Murphy, won the bull doggin’ here at the 1960 NHSFR,” Murphy said. “Sixty years later, I won a national championship in the breakaway roping. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Ultimately, Murphy finished third in the all-around race, with Kylie Conner from Louisiana winning the title.
The road does not stop here for this cowgirl—Hooter will be attending Panola Junior College in the fall to continue her academic and rodeo career for the Ponies.
“I’d like to thank my sponsors—Resistol, Rattler Ropes, Bloomer Trailers, Cinch Jeans, O’Neal Gas, and obviously my parents, my friends, family, grandparents, and just everyone that’s supported me not only this year, but my whole life. There’s no doubt, I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have my friends, family, and sponsors supporting me—it just wouldn’t be possible.”
Breakaway Roping Average
1. (LA) Hooter Murphy, Keatchi, La., 7.81
2. (TX) Josie Conner, Iowa, La., 7.87
3. (LA) Kylie Conner, Welsh, La., 7.95
4. (NV) Grace Felton, Fernley, Nev., 8.17
5. (AR) Kenlie Raby, Mt. Vernon, Ark., 9.12
6. (NM) Evann Segura, Stanley, N.M., 9.69
7. (SC) Gracie Griffin, Pickens, S.C., 9.99
8. (MT) Haven Wolstein, Helena, Mont., 10.13
9. (CO) Amanda Terrell, LaSalle, Colo., 10.3
10. (NE) Jace Hurlburt, Arcadia, Neb., 10.73
11. (WY) Haiden Thompson, Yoder, Wyo., 11.08
12. (GA) Ashten Owens, Quitman, Ga., 5.15
13. (TN) Emma Kate Wilder, Millington, Tenn., 5.3
14. (KS) Taylor Jilek, Princeton, Kan., 5.34
15. (SD) Sawyer Gilbert, Buffalo, S.D., 5.95
16. (LA) Bailey Mudd, Lake Charles, La., 5.97
17. (GA) Sarah Toole, Rydal, Ga., 6.54
18. (WI) Jenna Hume, Orfordville, Wis., 6.78
19. (TN) Blaize Deere, Scotts Hill, Tenn., 6.9
20. (AL) Brianna Pugh, Walnut Hill, Fla., 7.17