One thing is certain: Sawyer Gilbert is a force to be reckoned with. The 19-year-old World Champion Breakaway Roper from Buffalo, South Dakota has already proven herself at the highest level of rodeo.
The kicker? She’s only getting started.
With breakaway roping being introduced to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the first time in 2020, the coveted World Championship title has only been captured by two ladies: Jackie Crawford in 2020 and Gilbert in 2021.
“It was my dream before it was even possible,” Gilbert said.
With breakaway roping growing in popularity, more opportunities are becoming available to women at the professional level.
“Breakaway roping is coming along,” Gilbert said. “It’s going to get better. It’s going to get bigger.”
Gilbert won her first gold buckle by being the only cowgirl to rope all ten calves in Las Vegas. She attributes her consistency and success to her preparation and mental game.
Though Gilbert is grateful for mentors like Lari Dee Guy, Jackie Crawford, and JJ Hampton, she says she has never really had a “hero” in the traditional sense.
“I never had a hero, she said. “My hero was always myself 20 years from now. I always thought that was weird. I remember in elementary school we had to write a paper about our hero, and I wrote it about me when I was 21.”
“There were lots of people who told me I was too selfish,” she continued. “I don’t think that’s me being selfish. I just think that’s me owning my own skill and living up to that.”
Learn more about the fierce competitor behind the gold buckle in this week’s episode of Breaking the Barrier, hosted by Rebel Sjeklocha.