ELGIN — Ella Stahl has some bragging rights at the next family get-together.
The third-generation barrel racer joined her mother, Whitney, and grandmother, Debbie, as champions in barrel racing at the Elgin Stampede. Ella Stahl clocked in at 17.36 seconds to record the fastest time of the field in the barrel racing open competition at the Elgin Stampede on Thursday, July 8.
“I’ve been riding here since I was 5, but this is the first time I’ve ever won it,” Ella Stahl said. “It felt awesome.”
Ella Stahl, a grade schooler from Hermiston, narrowly beat out Colleen Kinsbury (17.43) to take the top spot amongst a field of approximately 30 cowgirls competing in the event. Stahl took the top time in the open competition, which consists of locals and professionals competing together. The barrel racing during the remainder of the Stampede consists of PRCA sanctioned professional barrel racers.
In front of a packed house in the stands of the Elgin Stampede fairgrounds, local fans cheered on the racers as they weaved in and out of the barrels. Ella Stahl amazed everyone, including herself, with her winning time.
“Was that really my time?” Stahl said as she described her mindset crossing the finish line and looking up at her time on the scoreboard.
Ella became the third Stahl to win the Elgin Stampede barrel racing competition. Debbie, Ella’s grandmother, first competed in the event around 2001 and is a five-time winner at the Elgin Stampede.
“I’ve won it, my daughter won it and now my granddaughter has won it to make three generations,” Debbie said.
Whitney, Ella’s mother, has competed regularly at the Stampede and first won the event in 2006. According to Debbie, the family relishes the opportunity to spend time together competing in a shared passion.
“It’s a great sport and it keeps her out of trouble,” Debbie told Ella with a laugh. “We love hauling and she loves the horses. It’s a great experience for us.”
Ella has competed in the Elgin Stampede regularly, but she enjoys taking road trips with her family to race in other states.
“We’ve gone as far as Utah,” she said. “I like going far and competing.”
For Debbie, returning to the Elgin Stampede is a relief after last year’s festivities being canceled due to COVID-19.
“We missed it a lot last year,” she said.
While Ella enjoys traveling, she was also relieved to be back in Elgin chasing cans.
“It was awesome having people cheering during the race,” she said.
Ella hopes that moving forward she can continue to win barrel races and keep improving her times. With such a stellar run at the 2021 Elgin Stampede, Ella continued her family’s legacy and played a part in bringing rodeo back to Elgin.