By Jolee Jordan
San Antonio, Texas — In 2015, Alexa Lake missed out on her first San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Championship by a mere $338. The Texas cowgirl came out shootin’ for another chance at the title during Bracket III of the 2016 edition of the same rodeo on February 16-18.
Voted 10 times as the PRCA’s Indoor Rodeo of the Year, the San Antonio rodeo is one of the most lucrative of the season for the contestants and generously pays all their entry fees. Only 50 WPRA cowgirls make the cut to compete at the AT&T Center, pulled from current and previous years’ standings as well as the WPRA Tour standings.
Competing in five brackets of ten ladies each, everyone gets three go rounds. The goal is to win as much money as possible—every night is a new round with no averages paid out. The top four from each bracket advance to a two-run semi-final round with the top five money winners from each semi-final advancing to the final night, Saturday, February 27.
The Championship is based upon total earnings; because the biggest checks are written for the final round, often the winner is the cowgirl who is fastest on the final night. That cowgirl was Lake in 2015 but she was bested by the title by four-time WPRA World Champion Sherry Cervi, who placed second and had more money won coming into the final night.
Lake began her run for 2016 inauspiciously… with a downed barrel in the opening round of her bracket, a round that was won by the 2016 National Western Stock Show and Rodeo Champ Shelby Herrmann. Interestingly, Herrmann is attending Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas thanks in part to a scholarship she won competing in the horse show portion of the San Antonio Stock Show several years ago. Herrmann rode TC to the win in a time of 14.04 seconds.
Lake made her move in round two, stopping the clock in 14.26 seconds to take third. Two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) cowgirl Jana Bean took the victory lap in the round. Riding Rick and Terri Ford’s Ima Royal Design, aka Hammer. Bean was 14.05 seconds for the win.
With only Columbia River Circuit Champ Pam Capper placing on both the first nights, the path was still wide open with one round left to cash checks. Lake and Viper put on the after-burners on their final night, clocking the fastest time of the bracket, the only sub-fourteen at 13.96 seconds.
Lake rides Sure Down Dash, aka Viper, the 11-year old son of Down Home Dash. Viper has been with Lake for four years and carried the Richmond, Texas cowgirl to 21st in the WPRA World standings last season, much of that won in the lucrative winter run.
With her final round victory, Lake tied Sarah Rose McDonald for tops in bracket III, ensuring her two more runs when the semi-finals begin next week and a chance to keep her title hope alive in 2016. Both cowgirls earned $3,422
McDonald switched off her famous roan partner Bling for rounds two and three of bracket competition and picked up a pair of checks. Meanwhile, Badlands cowgirl Britta [O’Keefe] Thiel, a newlywed, rode Roger to a pair of checks worth $2,566 to land third and move on to the semi-finals as well.
For the final spot from bracket III, things came down to a tie breaker between round winners Herrmann and Bean. The first tie breaker goes to a round winner and then it drops to fastest time. With a 14.04 to Bean’s 14.05, the tie breaker and the spot in the semi-finals goes to Herrmann.
Bracket IV begins Friday ending on Saturday night with the final bracket scheduled for Sunday and Monday. Bracket IV will feature the reigning WPRA World Champ Callie duPerier, reigning Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo Champ Carmel Wright, and 2015 WNFR qualifier Cassidy Kruse. The final bracket will see 2006 WPRA World Champ Mary Burger, 2014 WPRA World Champ Fallon Taylor, two-time and reigning Reserve WPRA World Champ Lisa Lockhart, and five former WNFR qualifiers.
The semi-finals begin on Tuesday, February 23.
1. Shelby Herrmann, Tees Cee Dees, 14.04, $2,281
2. Britta Thiel, YHS Texs Roger, 14.21, $1,711
3. Pam Capper, Sheza Smooth Flight, 14.24, $1,141
4. Megan Swint, Bar Bee Stealing Sue, 14.26, $570
1. Jana Bean, Ima Royal Design, 14.05, $2,281
2. Sarah Rose McDonald,, 14.13, $1,711
3. Alexa Lake, Sure Down Dash, 14.26, $1,141
4. Capper, 14.31, $570
1. Lake, 13.96, $2,281
2. McDonald, 14.23, $1,711
3. Thiel, 14.24, $855
4. Swint, 14.24, $855
Total Money Winners
1/2. Lake, $3,422*
1/2. McDonald, $3,422*
3. Thiel, $2,566*
4/5. Herrmann, $2,281*
4/5. Bean, $2,281
6. Capper, $1,711
7. Swint, $1,426
Courtesy of WPRA