By Jolee Jordan
Reno, Nevada — Pro rodeo fans are plenty familiar with the name Melby when it comes to tough barrel racing.
Lately, that name has been associated with Cayla Melby, the rookie barrel racer who claimed a Reserve Championship in the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association in 2015, finished second at the Clovis Rodeo—a stop on the Wrangler Gold Tour—back in April, and is ranked 22nd in the WPRA World standings.
But Cayla’s mom, Jane, issued a small reminder that she shouldn’t be forgotten by fans either. Though unranked in the standings, the two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier (WNFR) kicked off the summer run in a big way at the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo. Running on opening day of the 97th annual edition of the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West, Melby took the lead in the opening go round as well as the two run average.
The Reno Rodeo accepts 96 WPRA barrel racers and each lady gets two rounds of competition. The first round comes each morning during the slack while the second round follows each night in the rodeo performance. Twelve ladies a day compete for a chance to return to Reno for Championship Night on Saturday, June 25. The winner will earn a pair of the coveted Reno Rodeo Silver Spurs as well as a chunk of the huge purse which exceeds $65,000 for the barrel racers.
Reno is also a Gold Tour stop on the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour; points earned here will help competitors qualify for a spot on the Wrangler Champions Challenge Tour, presented by Justin Boots.
Melby competed alongside her daughter on Friday in Reno and both cowgirls fared well during the slack. Jane was aboard the six year old gelding Brookstone Jo, aka Brooks while Cayla rode Gator who is registered Shameon U. Jane’s time of 17.41 seconds continues to lead the way following the first three days of rodeo while Cayla’s 17.47 is now third behind Sherry Cervi’s 17.44.
The elder Melby was fast in round two as well, posting a 17.13 second effort to sit second in that round. California circuit cowgirl Kris Gadbois also ran on Friday; she is winning round two aboard her gelding Snoop with a time of 17.04 seconds.
Melby and Gadbois are sitting 1-2 in the average with Melby holding a commanding two-tenth lead thus far into the rodeo. Melby’s two-run total is 34.54 while Gadbois sits at 34.74.
Defending champion Jill Welsh competed on Saturday. After posting a solid 17.55 second run during slack, Welsh seem to have a shot at a repeat but a downed barrel in round two will keep her from the finals.
Emerging from Saturday’s group was Idaho cowgirl Darby Fox. Riding for circuit as well as world points, Fox and Fancy, registered name Easy French Alibi, ran a very fast course on Saturday night, stopping the clock at 17.17 for third in round two. The time moved her to sixth in the average.
Another former champ here, Cervi, ran on Sunday. After putting up her fast time in round one, she also fell victim to the penalty blues during her performance run on Sunday night.
Coming up huge on Sunday was Texas Circuit Champ Kelly Tovar. Currently ranked 16th in the WPRA World standings, Tovar rode Edwin to super consistent runs of 17.49 and 17.50 to move to third in the average with 34.99 seconds.
The Reno Rodeo continues on Monday, June 20 with a tough group of ladies which includes WNFR cowgirls Vickie Carter, Michele McLeod, Brenda Mays, Sarah Rose McDonald and Taylor Jacob as well as current top 20 ladies Kimmie Wall and Tiany Schuster.
For more information on the Reno Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.renorodeo.com and stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates. All performances of the Reno Rodeo can be viewed live on The Wrangler Network.
1. Jane Melby, Brookstone Jo, 17.41
2. Sherry Cervi, Dash ta Diamonds, 17.44
3. Cayla Melby, Shameon U, 17.47
4. Kelly Tovar, BB French Fooledya, 17.49
5. Tyra Kane, 17.54
6. Jill Welsh, French First Watch, 17.55
1. Kris Gadbois, CRCS Regaldash, 17.04
2. Jane Melby, 17.13
3. Darby Fox, Easy French Alibi, 17.17
4. Julie Martin, 17.36
5. Tovar, 17.50
6. Nicole Laurence, 17.51
1. Jane Melby, 34.54
2. Gadbois, 34.74
3. Tovar, 34.99
4. Laurence, 35.40
5. Katrina Dugo, KD Sambrita, 35.42
6. Fox, 35.47
7. Nancy Hunter, Flit N Fizz, 35.50
8. Susanna Jacobi, 35.54
9. Tyra Kane, 35.96
10. Kimberly Sanford, 36.44
11. Meghan Johnson, 36.57
12. Kassi Ventaracci, 37.37
Courtesy of WPRA