By Jolee Jordan
Kissimmee, Florida — With the high cost of diesel fuel, it’s a huge bonus for qualifiers to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) when they receive an envelope with $1,000 stipend at check-in on Wednesday afternoon before the season ending championship rodeo kicks off on Thursday.
For cowgirls Shelly Anzick and Teri Bangart, the huge purse available proved a bonus as well. Likely the two WPRA barrel racers who travelled the furthest from home to compete here in Florida—Anzick hails from Shepherd, Montana while Bangart calls Olympia, Washington home—the cowgirls made the most of the money offered during the first go round of competition.
The RNCFR is in its fourth year in Kissimmee. The championship of pro rodeo’s circuit system, designed with part time cowboys and cowgirls in mind, the RNCFR hosts two contestants from each of 13 circuits (12 in the US as well as Mexico). All competitors get two runs and the eight best in the average advance to Sunday’s Semi-Finals.
Anzick set a high bar in the opening performance on Thursday with her run of 15.45 seconds. She led the field by a good stretch as the second half of the round took their shots during Friday night’s performance.
The arena was decked out in red, white and blue during Friday night’s Wrangler National Patriot Night performance and the rodeo pays tribute to the military and first responders during the perf and also offers free admission to all active and retired servicemen and women, along with law enforcement personnel and first responders.
Columbia River Circuit champion Bangart was first to compete on Patriot Night and she and her good horse Peak definitely turned in a peak performance.
While Bangart has a pair of nice horses to ride, Peak got the call for the majority of Bangart’s winning runs not only last summer but during the 2018 winter campaign thus far. The cowgirl is ranked inside the top 40 of the current WPRA World standings highlighted by a third place finish in Tucson, Arizona.
Clearly a fan of the sunshine, the pair stopped the clock in the Sunshine State in 15.53 seconds, firing the warning shot of the fast runs to come on Friday night as eight of the thirteen contestants were able to beat sixteen seconds during the performance.
Reigning WPRA Rookie of the Year, Taci Bettis, was second best on Friday night, and third overall in the round, with her run of 15.62 seconds on Smash. Lori Todd and Carley Richardson scampered into the money on Friday as well, slotting behind Jessica Routier’s run from Thursday.
Anzick was able to withstand the charge on Friday, winning the opening round for a check worth more than $6,000. Already among the top 30 in the WPRA World standings, Anzick will move up considerably with the round win as all money won in Kissimmee counts towards the standings.
Anzick took to Facebook, noting an equipment failure on her opening run.
“Lucky for me Scooter does his job—we had our rein stuck in the chin strap and thankful he didn’t make a turn on the way home!”
Like all contestants at the RNCFR, Anzick spent time visiting local attractions to raise awareness of the rodeo. She was at Wild Florida on Friday. Meanwhile, Bettis went to Disney World.
Saturday is Family Day at the rodeo and the second round kicks off during Saturday’s matinee performance with the same cowgirls who competed on Friday night. Preliminary competition ends in Saturday night’s Wrangler Tough Enough to Wear Pink performance with Thursday’s competitors taking their final shots at advancing.
On Sunday, each of the semi-finalists makes one more run with no previous times carried forward. The four fastest, advance to the Finals, held immediately after the eight round. The Finals are sudden death and the winner of that round is named the National Champion.
For more information on the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), visit them on-line at www.rncfr.com and www.prorodeo.com. For continuing updates on the ladies barrel racing, stay tuned to www.wpra.com.
Name, Horse, Circuit, Time, Money Won
1. Shelly Anzick, Scooten ta Fame, Montana, 15.45, $6,254
2. Teri Bangart, RCA Three Bugs Honor, Columbia River, 15.53, $4,738
3. Taci Bettis, Bogie is a Smash, Texas, 15.62, $3,412
4. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, Badlands, 15.72, $2,274
5. Lori Todd, Dashin Red Warrior LT, Turquoise, 15.75, $1,327
6. Carley Richardson, Doda Flit, Prairie, 15.78, $948
2nd Perf, April 6, 2018
Teri Bangart, RCA Three Bugs Honor, Columbia River, 15.53
Taci Bettis, Bogie is a Smash, Texas, 15.62
Lori Todd, Wranglers Bedrock, Turquoise, 15.75
Carley Richardson, Doda Flit, Prairie, 15.78
Kathy Petska, Dinero Made Me Famous, California, 15.84
Nikki Hansen, Sky High Guy, Badlands, 15.86
Shali Lord, Freckles Ta Fame, Mountain States, 15.91
Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, Great Lakes, 15.95
Kellie Collier, Sierra Hall of Fame, Wilderness, 16.03
Kaley Bass, Wonders Cowboy Dan, Southeastern, 16.12
Ashley Day, Queen of Bullets, Montana, 20.70
Christina Mulford, Panamascharlieharly, First Frontier, 20.88
Paulina Rivera, Mexico, 21.76
Courtesy of WPRA