By Jolee Jordan
Kissimmee, Florida — Apparently, the windswept plains of Oklahoma make for a tough proving ground for barrel racers.
After the first half of the opening round of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), Oklahoma cowgirl Emily Miller led the way with her fast run of 15.46 seconds.
As the final half of the round kicked off during the Friday night performance in Kissimmee, Miller’s time soon faced an onslaught from the field, beginning with Turquoise Circuit Champion Lori Todd, who bested the time by eight one-hundredths of a second.
Todd’s lead was to be short-lived however, getting pushed hard by WPRA World leader Tiany Schuster who ran next, putting up 15.43 seconds to move Miller to third.
When another Oklahoma cowgirl took to the Silver Spurs Arena just a few runners later, Todd’s lead disappeared.
Tracy Nowlin punched her ticket to the RNCFR back in late October during the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo in Duncan, Oklahoma. She won the average there, besting year-end champion Miller by just eight one-hundredths of a second.
The Prairie Circuit came to represent in Central Florida. With Miller already in the money, Nowlin blasted down the alleyway aboard her great mare Dolly Jo. Making fast corners, Nowlin completed her effort in a smokin’ fast 15.28 seconds to win the round.
The RNCFR is pro rodeo’s National Championship, bringing two competitors from each of the 12 geographic circuits, along with the Mexican Rodeo Federation champs, to compete in a tournament style rodeo. All 26 contestants make two runs and the fastest eight from the two-head average advance to the final performance.
That round, held on Sunday, April 9, is comprised of two sudden death rounds for the championship. The semi-finals runs first and pares the field down to the four fastest for the final round, held later in the same perf. Contestants are competing for a tremendous purse and prize line along with bragging rights as the National Champ.
The fact that all monies won here in 2017 count towards WPRA World standings adds another layer of importance and pressure for the cowgirls competing. Last year’s champ, Ivy Conrado won more than $20,000 and Miller collected more than $15,000 in her first appearance here a year ago.
Nowlin won more than $6,200 for the win in the round, almost the same amount she won for her Prairie Circuit average win. She is making the most of her opportunity for a big payoff while also enjoying a nice weeklong family vacation with her son Ty. Ironically, Ty is partly responsible for Nowlin’s big showing here: she actually bought Dolly Jo off Facebook two years ago as a tie down roping horse for her son.
Deciding to give the mare a try around the cloverleaf, Nowlin discovered Dolly Jo absolutely loved running barrels and her career path quickly changed.
By the Royal Quick Dash stallion Royal Blue Chew Chew and out of Run Madison, Dolly Jo is 11 this year. She has Nowlin first in the 2017 Prairie Circuit standings in the early going and 46th—and moving up—in the WPRA World standings.
“Dolly Jo loves her job now and I’m very thankful God put her in our lives,” Nowlin noted in a Facebook post.
The Prairie Circuit barrel racing contingent added $8,500 to the circuit’s total as all competitors are also part of their respective circuit’s team, battling for a team title along with individual glory.
The second round kicks off during Saturday’s matinee performance with the same cowgirls who competed on Friday night. Preliminary competition ends in Saturday night’s Wrangler Tough Enough to Wear Pink performance.
For more information on the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), visit them on-line at www.rncfr.com and www.prorodeo.com. For continuing updates on the ladies barrel racing, stay tuned to www.wpra.com.
Name, Horse, Circuit, Time, Earnings
1. Tracy Nowlin, DJG Madison, Prairie, 15.28, $6,254
2. Lori Todd, Wranglers Bedrock, Turquoise, 15.38, $4,738
3. Tiany Schuster, Show Mance, Texas, 15.43, $3,412
4. Emily Miller, Namgis D 35, Prairie, 15.46, $2,274
5. Lisa Lockhart, Rosas Cantina CC, Montana, 15.48, $1,327
6. Amberleigh Moore, Cp Dark Moon, Columbia River, 15.51, $948
7. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, California, 15.52
8. Ari-Ann Flynn, Tobys Poco Misterio, Texas, 15.53
9. Carmel Wright, Fortunes Last Xtrem, Montana, 15.54
10. Jana Griemsman, Chase It With Brandy, Badlands, 15.55
Courtesy of WPRA