Sarah Toole, 17, is ready. At her second Ft. Worth USTRC National Finals of Team Roping this April, she plans to take advantage of any opportunities she’s given.
“I try to go in there with confidence and knowing that I have a chance,” said the high school rodeo athlete. “I feel like I always have a chance. When I enter, I want to know that I can win it. That’s what I go in believing. Everybody has a chance and I have a chance to win as much as anybody else does.”
Toole also traveled to Texas for the 2021 USTRC NFTR as a Cinch Ladies Year-End Award contender, but she did so on the heel side. She wasn’t able to take the title, but she finished in the notable No. 2 spot, despite finding heeling to a bit more challenging.
“My heeling’s a little iffy,” she said candidly, “but we work at it.”
This year, Toole is entered in the #14.5, #13.5 and #12.5 for sure, and she thinks she may put her name in the hat in a few more, too.
“More than likely, I’ll rope in the #11.5, too. And last year they had the Junior Open. I don’t know if they’ve got that this year or not. I think they do. I might try to get in that, too, because that was a good roping. I’m roping with my dad and a few other guys and I feel like I’ve got a chance this year.”
In recent years, the Cinch Ladies Standings has been determined by a points system and points earned while competing at the Finals are worth double. Currently, Toole leads with a total of 52 points, while her nearest competitor, Shawnee Murphy, remains within an 8-point shot at 44 points.
The 5.5/4 switchender will be depending on her main mount, Twister, to finish out strong.
“We bought him off a guy and trained him,” Toole explained. “He’s just rock solid. He’s my money man. I know every time I take him, he puts me where I need to be. I score sharp on him and he runs and he does everything he’s supposed to do. He’s all there. He’s the real deal, so I’m pretty thankful for him.”
Though the family has made long hauls to South Dakota and Wyoming for the National High School Finals Rodeo (Toole and her partner are currently first in the team roping and goat tying), the US NFTR move to Fort Worth has been a welcome change.
“Texas is a pretty good drive,” she said. “It’s about 14 hours, but it’s always fun with your family. And since they moved to Fort Worth and put them in April, it’s a lot easier for us to go.”
On the heel side of the standings, 28-year-old Della Spurlock heads into the final run with 22 points and a single-point lead over Sally Ball’s 21 points. Spurlock is a 4-heeler from Baldwin, Georgia, who earned her top spot after winning second with her husband, Casey, at the South Georgia Super Qualifier over New Years—the same roping in which Toole earned enough points to take her lead, as well.
Spurlock has never roped at the Finals, but she’s hopeful to get there this year.
“I’ve only been roping for six years,” she said. “Me and my sisters all train and ride horses, but they’re barrel racers and I really wanted to rope, so I convinced my stepdad, who used to rope, to get some rope horses.”
A few years into training her horse and herself, Spurlock met Casey and they’re teaching his son to rope, as well.
“We have to watch him—he steals all of our horses,” exclaimed Spurlock, who rides a North American Spotted Halflinger that has caught favorable attention from pros like Junior Nogueira and Allen Bach at roping clinics.
2021–2022 USTRC CINCH Ladies Points Award
At Home Challenge Events: 10 points will be awarded to the winner; no other points will be awarded. Signature Events: Points will be awarded to those winning an aggregate check. First place = 10 points, second = 9 points, and so on. Signature Events will only award points to the number of places paid. Cinch NFTR: Points are doubled. First = 20, second = 18, and so on, as far down as the ropings are paid. The top points earners after the last run of the Cinch NFTR on May 1, 2022, will be crowned our Cinch Ladies Heading and Heeling Champions, each receiving a bonus check of $1,000 and one-year’s worth of Cinch clothing.
2021–2022 USTRC Cinch Ladies Leaderboard
(as of 2/24/22. Go to USTRC.com for current standings.)
Heading POINTS HOMETOWN
1. Sarah Toole 52 Rydal, Georgia
2. Shawnee Murphy 44 Melrose, Iowa
3. Jill Elwood 36 Lindsborg, Kansas
4. Jana Murphy 35 Melrose, Iowa
5. Madison Haley 31 Paris, Texas
6. Gracie Anna Green 29 Roanoke, Alabama
7. Tess Menegatti 27 Walsenburg, Colorado
8/9. Presley Spoonemore 25 Annona, Texas
8/9. Alli Tate 25 Vincent, Alabama
10. Shelby Hinkle 21 Wallace, Nebraska
1. Della Spurlock 22 Baldwin, Georgia
2. Sally Ball 21 Max Meadows, Virginia
3. Christine Talton 14 Pueblo, Colorado
4. Lorie Patterson 15 Konawa, Oklahoma
5. Bailey Watson 13 Tioga, Texas
6/7. Sammy Gilbert 10 Burnet, Texas
6/7. Autumn Pritchard 10 Litchfield, Nebraska
8/9/10. Denim Smith 9 Hannibal, Missouri
8/9/10. Kaitlyn Torres 9 Alice, Texas
8/9/10. Abigail Peterman 9 Gulfport, Mississippi