By Jolee Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — There is definitely something to be said for momentum in the world of professional rodeo.
Kathy Grimes set out from her home in Medical Lake, Wash., for the winter run after earning a berth to April’s Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR); she earned that position after her second win in three years at the Ram Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo back in November.
Since heading east, the doctor of veterinary medicine has been on an impressive run. Competing in just five rodeos in the 2017 season, including the Circuit Finals as money earned there now counts towards WPRA World standings, Grimes has earned almost $22,000, an amazing average of over $4,300 per rodeo.
She also won a $5,000 bonus which doesn’t count towards the standings for taking home the Jerry Ann Taylor Best Dressed Award at the Fort Worth Stock Show, where she was the Reserve Champ.
“I’m sure excited about how this year is going,” she notes.
There was no better place for a cowgirl on a hot streak to land than at her first San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
One of the crown jewels of pro rodeo, the SASSR is a tournament style event limited to 50 competitors in each event. The 50 are divided into 5 brackets for preliminary competition. After three rounds, the top four money winners from each bracket advance to the semi-finals. Each round is sudden death with no averages paid out so going as fast as you can every run is the best strategy.
Riding her homegrown mare Issy—who was sporting purple glitter on her hip, Grimes landed into the money, just barely in the opening round of Bracket 4 held on Friday night, February 17. That round was won by Badlands Circuit standout Britta Thiel aboard her gelding Roger.
The Bracket 4 competitors finished in a flurry with two perfs on Saturday and Grimes and Issy turned on the heat, winning both rounds with identical times of 14.06 seconds. Though the clock looked the same, the runs didn’t with Issy stumbling on the third corner in the second round; the gritty mare ran wide as she recovered on the fly.
“Not the smoothest run but we got lucky enough to get the win this afternoon!” Grimes posted to Facebook after the run.
“So excited about getting the win tonight! We will come back for the semi-finals Feb. 23 & 24,” Grimes posted after the night perf win, which shot her bracket earnings to $5,132, best of the bunch.
“What a great rodeo,” said Grimes of San Antonio which has been voted the best in pro rodeo a dozen times. “All of the people were so nice and helpful- impressive place!”
Issy and Grimes will rest up in preparation for the semi-finals rounds which begin on February 21. Joining her in the next round are Thiel, Nellie Miller and four-time WPRA World Champ—and two-time San Antonio winner—Sherry Cervi.
Grimes is staying south at least through the RNCFR in Kissimmee, Fla., in April.
“I also qualified for Houston and Austin for the first time – so we have plenty to go to until we head for Florida,” Grimes says. “I am trying to take advantage of these big money winter rodeos as I still plan to go home after RNCFR to do the breeding and foaling until I head out again mid June.”
Grimes has her own breeding program, of which Issy is one of the big superstars-known as Nine-Oh Embryo Transfer Services. Beyond breeding season, Grimes is keeping her options open as far as a run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
“We will just keep trying to make good runs and see what happens and how far we can go!”
Speaking of momentum, there is nobody hotter than the only lady Grimes is trailing in the WPRA World standings, Tiany Schuster. After clinching the short go win and second in the average at San Angelo on Friday as Bracket 4 kicked off in San Antonio, Schuster’s season earnings ran out to more than $60,000, a new record for this point in the season by far. In fact, the figure is less than $20,000 from what it took to qualify for the WNFR in 2016’s record breaking season.
Schuster came across Texas for a pair of runs to start the final bracket in San Antonio on Sunday and did what she has been doing… she won first. Riding JR, Schuster’s 14.09 tied her for the win with Colorado cowgirl Sammi Bessert and the ageless Terrible Tommy Twist.
Schuster had to relinquish first for the bracket however to Bessert after the latter kept the hot hand on a tough Sunday night where several competitors—Schuster included—hit barrels. Bessert was second by just one one-hundredth of a second behind round winner Sabra O’Quinn of Florida and her gelding Nosey.
With the final four spots in the semi-finals up for grabs, the final round of preliminary competition was held on President’s Day, Monday night. Bessert was pretty safe in her advancement and cinched the deal with another check, this time for fourth in the round.
With $4,277 won, Bessert and Tommy took top honors. With another check, Schuster finished second in the bracket to also advance to the semi-finals. While O’Quinn did not place on Monday night, her two Sunday checks were enough to punch her ticket to the next round.
The come-from-behind cowgirl was Benette Little. After missing the money twice on Sunday, the former WNFR competitor pulled off the win on Monday with a smooth run of 14.12 seconds. Though she tied for fourth in the money won with Kelly Yates, Little moves on thanks to the ground rules which state that any go round winner will advance in the case of a tie for money won.
The first semi-final will consist of the Tuesday and Wednesday night performances. Though the round money increases, the concept is the same—the top money winners move on. Only five from each semi-final—with bracket money being added to semi-final money—will compete in the finals on Saturday night, February 25.
The WPRA would like to extend prayers for a speedy recovery to Mountain States Circuit Champion Kim Schulze who was injured when a horse kicked her on February 16, severely lacerating her liver; she is hospitalized, has undergone surgery, and is now recovering.
Schulze had secured a berth in the semi-finals in San Antonio but will be replaced by the next contestant from her bracket, Sydni Blanchard.
1. Britta Thiel, Yhs Texs Roger, 14.13, $2,281
2. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 14.19, $1,711
3. Sherry Cervi, Dash ta Diamonds, 14.22, $1,141
4. Kathy Grimes, KG Justiceweexpected, $570
1. Grimes, 14.06, $2,281
2. Kimmie Wall, TKW Bullys Famous Fox, 14.21, $1,711
3. Cervi, 14.23, $1,141
4. Thiel, 14.28, $570
1. Grimes, 14.06, $2,281
2. Miller, 14.15, $1,711
3. Cervi, 14.22, $1,141
4. Abby Penson, Pearl Snappin, 14.28, $570
Total Money Won
*Advance to Semi-Finals
1. tie Tiany Schuster, JSYK Im Famous, 14.09, $1,996
2. tie Sammi Bessert, Terrible Tommy Twist, 14.09, $1,996
3. Kelly Yates, Fiestanozshezfamous, 14.23, $1,141
4. Sabra O’Quinn, Bring It On Guys, 14.33, $570
1. O’Quinn, 14.11, $2,281
2. Bessert, 14.12, $1,711
3. Yates, 14.21, $1,141
4. Andrea Busby, Moonrada, 14.34, $570
1. Benette Little, Ms Carrie Lou, 14.12, $2,281
2. Brenda Mays, Judge My Fame, 14.18, $1,711
3. Schuster, 14.22, $1,141
4. Bessert, 14.26, $570
Total Money Won
*Advance to Semi-Finals
Amberleigh Moore, $6,843 (B3)
Sammi Bessert, $4,277 (B5)
Jana Bean, $3,422 (B3)
Nellie Miller, $3,422 (B4)
Nicole Riggle, $3,422 (B2)
Sabra O’Quinn, $2,851 (B5)
Britta Thiel, $2,851 (B4)
Katie Pascoe, $2,566 (B2)
Stevi Hillman, $2,281 (B1)
Sydni Blanchard, $1,711 (B1)
Taylor Langdon, $6,843 (B1)
Ivy Conrado, $5,703 (B2)
Kathy Grimes, $5,132 (B4)
Sherry Cervi, $3,422 (B4)
Cassidy Kruse, $3,136 (B2)
Tiany Schuster, $3,136 (B5)
Cally Thomas, $2,851 (B3)
Pam Capper, $2,281 (B3)
Benette Little, $2,281 (B5)
Kellie Collier, $1,711 (B1)
Courtesy of WPRA