By Jolee Jordan
Waco, Texas — Ari-Anna Flynn has big goals in the ranks of professional rodeo: she wants to equal or improve her family’s record for trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR).
Flynn comes from a top rodeo family; her dad Denny made 10 trips to the WNFR, winning three average titles and 14 go rounds, while mom Lynn qualified three separate times including 1979, the same year she collected the Rookie of the Year title.
Finishing the 2016 campaign ranked 55th in the WPRA World standings, the younger Flynn has a chance to jump start her 2017 season with a big win at the All American Pro Rodeo Series Finals, held each October with the Heart O’ Texas Fair in Waco at the Extraco Events Center.
Only the top 30 contestants in the All American standings who have competed in 30 All American rodeos during the year qualify for the series finals. The All American Pro Rodeo Series consists of rodeos with total purse money of less than $30,000.
The Finals is set up in three brackets of 10 competitors. Each bracket consists of two go rounds of preliminary action. With no averages paid, the top three money winners from the two rounds advance to the final night, Saturday, October 15. The final night is comprised of two rounds: the semi-finals and finals. Following the semi-finals, the field is cut to four based upon the fast times in that round and the slate is wiped clean for a one run shoot-out with the winner earning a huge $7,500 check.
For the first time in 2016, all money won in Waco counts to the 2017 WPRA World standings, giving contestants a big opportunity to earn a spot in big payday, limited entry rodeos in the winter.
After four years at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and two trips to the College National Finals, Flynn has embarked on her own pro rodeo career and picked up a big boost when she won the opening round of Bracket B at the All American Finals on Tuesday night, October 11.
Riding Sunny Two Socks, aka Hollywood, Flynn turned in a run of 16.06 for the victory along with a nice check worth $2,779.
Hollywood is a product of Flynn’s own training program. She’s been riding him since he was five.
“He was started late,” jokes Flynn, who makes her home in Charleston, Ark. The palomino son of Quick Little Lena out of the Sticks an Stones mare Ms Janes Stone is now nine years old. He was voted the Women’s AQHA Horse of the Year at the CNFR in 2015.
With her spot in the semi-finals virtually assured with the round win, Flynn left nothing to chance, finishing second in round two behind Jordan Moore. Flynn’s second round time of 16.21 was worth $2,084, giving her an event best $4,863 in earnings.
A sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County, Moore is studying psychology and taking advantage of having most of her classes online this Fall to take time to come to Texas to rodeo.
Currently leading the Great Lakes Circuit standings, Moore and her horse Ringo were solid in Waco, posting times of 16.37 and 16.18 to finish third and first, respectively. Her total earnings of $4,168 allowed her to advance as well.
With Flynn and Moore hogging much of the winnings, the third and final spot in the semi-finals went to another Arkansas cowgirl, Laura Kennedy. Riding Tall Boy, Kennedy won second on the opening night of Bracket B with her run of 16.14 seconds. The $2,084 paycheck was enough to keep Kennedy competing.
Preliminary competition wraps up with Bracket C on Thursday and Friday nights. There are two past champions on the schedule: Sherrylynn Johnson, who claimed the title here in 2011 and 2012 WPRA World Champion Mary Walker, who won the All American the same year as she won her World title and calls Waco her hometown rodeo.
Also in the field are 2015 Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo Champ Carmel Wright, newly crowned Badlands Circuit Champ Jana Griemsman and 2016’s top two rookies, Cayla Melby and Kristen Darnell. Melby is the WPRA Rookie of the Year and the regular season leader in the All American Series.
1.Ari-Anna Flynn, 16.06, $2,779
2.Laura Kennedy, Hopes Money Boy, 16.14, $2,084
3.Jordan Moore, CCR Ring of Fire, 16.37, $1,389
4.Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi, Steele Magnolias, 16.41, $695
1.Moore, 16.18, $2,779
2.Flynn, 16.21, $2,084
3.Jana Bean, Happy to Run Em, 16.25, $1,042
4.Mary Burger, Sadiesfamouslastwords, 16.25, $1,042
*Advance to Semi-Finals
Courtesy of WPRA