Leighton Berry Makes Impressive Comeback, Returns to NFR For Second Time
Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths
BY BRETT NIERENGARTEN @PRORODEOBRETT
Leighton Berry’s second NFR qualification did not come easy.
After a breakout year that ended with his NFR debut in 2020, Berry broke his back in Odessa, the first rodeo he entered in 2021. The injury required a spinal fusion surgery that had the potential to sideline him for an entire year.
Despite being told there was a chance he’d never ride bareback horses again, Berry knew that would never be the case. After a relentless rehab process, Berry returned at August’s Dodge City Round-Up in 2021, about seven months after his surgery.
In 2022, he was back at full strength and there weren’t any signs of rust. His 24 rides of 85 points or more and 12 Go-Round wins are both career highs and Berry will enter the NFR No. 8 in the PRCA World Standings.
Cinch Playoffs, $18,325
Berry picked one of the best times of the year to make his best ride of the season. He was 90 points on Calgary Stampede’s Xplosive Skies to win the inaugural Cinch Playoffs in Puyallup. All four of his rides at the event were marked 83.5 points or more.
Reno Rodeo, $13,631
Berry’s 256 points on three head was enough to make him the event champion by a half-point over R.C. Landingham. He finished second in two rounds and fifth in another to pull a check of at least $1,000 on all three of his rides.
HIGHEST MARKED RIDES
It’s worth noting that Berry’s actual highest marked ride of the season was his 90-point outing to win the Cinch Playoffs, however, he still had several other big scores worth mentioning.
San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, 89.5 Points
Berry won Rounds 2 and 3 of his bracket in San Antonio with 89.5 points on Full Baggage and 87.5 points on Yellowstone back-to-back nights. He would go on to make the Finals and bank $8,500 in San Antone.
Guymon Pioneer Days, 89.5 Points
Berry finished second in the one-header and made just over $2,500. Jess Pope, who finished the regular season No. 2, was 92.5 points to win the rodeo.
Weatherford Riggin’ Rally, 89 Points
In his hometown Riggin’ Rally, Berry had to do some extra work to qualify, but proved he belonged with 85 points to tie for second in Round 1 before going for 89 to tie for third in the Finals. He won $5,137 at the event, which was the third most behind Mason Clements and Cole Reiner.
Parker County Sheriffs Posse PRCA Rodeo, 85 Points
Berry did well in his hometown Riggin’ Rally and hometown rodeo, winning the June rodeo in Weatherford with 85 points. He shared the title with rookies Waylon Bourgeois and Rocker Steiner.
Walla Walla Frontier Days, 87 Points
With wins Puyallup and Walla Walla, Berry claimed two of the highest paying rodeo titles in Washington in 2022. He was 87 on Brookman’s Sos to split the win with R.C. Landingham. Fellow NFR qualifiers Cole Franks and Orin Larsen were third and fourth.
Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo, 88.5
On the final weekend of the PRCA season, Berry closed the regular season with authority by riding Night Fist to a first place check. He was 2.5 points clear of Ty Breuer.
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