By Jolee Jordan
Houston, Texas — Any time a couple can walk away from three days of work with better than $10,000 in their Wrangler Jeans, they have to call it a successful venture. That was the case for Wrangler National Finalists Isaac and Britany Diaz during the first Super Series of the 2016 edition of the hugely profitable RodeoHouston, part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The pair of top rodeo competitors were married in November of 2013 and have seven trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) combined including most recently one for Isaac, a saddle bronc rider in the PRCA, in 2015 and one for Britany in 2014.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to be in Vegas competing together. For Britany, her time spent in Houston can help her towards that goal as all money won at RodeoHouston counts for WPRA World standings.
RodeoHouston accepts just 40 WPRA contestants, dividing them in to Super Series sets of eight ladies each. Each Super Series is made up of eight competitors and consists of three go rounds. Each round is sudden death and pays out to four places. At the end of the Super Series, the top four money winners advance to the next round in the tournament style competition.
The top four in each Super Series move on to one of two semi-finals competitions to be held March 16-17. Once there, the four fastest from each semi-finals move on to the Super Series Championship on March 19 while the remaining six are given one more shot during the Wild Card round on March 18.
The eight from the two semi-finals and the fastest two from the Wild Card round will compete in the Championship, a two go run for the title and the huge $50,000 payday offered. Following the Championship Round of ten ladies, the four fastest come right back the same night for the Championship Shootout. All rounds are sudden death with no times carrying forward.
Diaz finished the 2015 season 32nd in the WPRA World standings after her superstar mare Rootie went down with an injury mid-season. Rootie is registered Dasher Dude and is 16 this season. In her last trip to Las Vegas, her fellow barrel racers voted Rootie the Horse with the Most Heart.
Rootie has been off since that injury, a long arduous eight months back to the winner circle and Diaz chose RodeoHouston as the first runs in her comeback tour.
She immediately felt the impact of being back in the saddle of her great equine partner, splitting the opening round win with RodeoHouston rookie Katelyn McLeod. The cowgirls banked $2,500 each for their runs of 14.52 seconds.
Diaz cemented her spot in the semi-finals with a second place finish 24 hours later, just behind 2009 RodeoHouston Champ—and 2006 WPRA World Champ—Mary Burger. Burger posted the fastest time of Super Series I with her 14.10 second effort. Diaz earned $4,500 in two runs while Burger, who had placed third in the opening round aboard Sadiesfamouslastwords, aka Moe, won $4,000 in the first two nights.
Neither cowgirl landed in the money in the third round but still finished 1-2 in the money for Super Series I.
For Diaz, she became a part of RodeoHouston history as half of the first husband-wife duo to win a Super Series in Houston. Husband, Isaac, is also moving on to the semi-finals after winning $6,250 including a round win in the final go on March 3 for an 86 point ride on Smoke Ring from Salt River Rodeo Company.
With the top two spots solid going in to the final night of the Super Series, other cowgirls needed big runs to make their way into the top four and a pair of them got it.
Former WNFR qualifier Layna Kight came up with the final round win of the Super Series aboard Eyesa So Famous, known around the barn as Cooper. She had placed fourth on opening night and her earnings of $3,750 clinched her spot as third place in the set.
McLeod needed a win as well and got just enough, taking third aboard Apt to Be Special, aka Toby. As one of the top rookies of 2015, McLeod earned her spot in her first RodeoHouston in 2016 and will be among the semi-finalists here. Her mom, Michele, will be looking to join her beginning with the first round of Super Series II on March 4.
Among the other scheduled competitors are 2012 WPRA World Champion Mary Walker and 2015 WNFR qualifiers Jana Bean, Vickie Carter, and Sarah Rose McDonald. Rounding out the field of eight are Meghan Johnson, Brittany Kelly and Tillar Murray.
For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com and stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates.
Super Series I Results
1. Britany Diaz, Dasher Dude, 14.52, $2,500
2. Katelyn McLeod, Apt to Be Special, 14.52, $2,500
3. Mary Burger, Sadiesfamouslastwords, 14.72, $1,000
4. Layna Kight, Eyesa So Famous, 15.12, $750
1. Burger, 14.10, $3,000
2. Diaz, 14.18, $2,000
3. Jill Welsh, French First Watch, $1,000
4. Callie duPerier, 14.59, $750
1. Kight, 14.17, $3,000
2. Welsh, 14.27, $2,000
3. McLeod, 14.36, $1,000
4. Sherrylynn Johnson, Leading Tradition, 14.53, $750
Total Money Won
Johnson and duPerier, $750
Courtesy of WPRA