By Jolee Jolee Lautaret
Reno, Nevada — The Reno Rodeo is one of the toughest competitions in the WPRA, so tough that it’s been the 1990’s since any barrel racer has been able to repeat as champion. That was WPRA World Champion Kristie Peterson and the incomparable Bozo, by the way, who won three straight from 1997-1999.
Just to show how tough this rodeo continues to be, take note that there will not be a repeat champion in 2015. Reigning champion Christine Laughlin failed to qualify for the Championship Round following her two rounds of competition on Wednesday, June 23. In fact, only one cowgirl left in the draw has won a title here in the past so the odds are the winner could be a first-timer.
Each of the 96 barrel racers entered competed in a pair of runs; the first round came during the morning slack with the second coming in the night’s performance. The top 12 in the average on two runs will advance to the Championship Round on Saturday night for one more run before the coveted Silver Spurs will be awarded to the winner on three runs.
All competitors are still chasing Arizona cowgirl Jill Welsh as the rodeo winds to its conclusion. Welsh smoked the competition on her first run with a 16.88 second run that is leading by three plus tenths of a second.
Welsh’s lead in the average is also better than three tenths with the added twist that second ranked barrel racer Kaley Bass won’t be returning on Saturday night for the Championship Round. The Florida cowgirl is expecting her first child in August and has made her final run before the baby’s arrival. She will end her summer run with her 16.94 in the second round here last Saturday. Welsh is six-tenths faster than third ranked Kassidy Dennison.
A pair of cowgirls who competed in the Championship Round here a year ago made their moves to return on Wednesday. Carley Richardson and Pam Capper both moved into the top 12 with Richardson landing 10th and Capper 11th. Capper’s 17.13 was the fastest of the set, moving her to fifth in the second go round.
Also in the Wednesday night perf, Laughlin and Jaime Hinton posted times of 17.16 and 17.19, respectively, to set themselves up for second go round checks.
On Thursday night, Cassidy Kruse continued her quest for a first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with an incredible run of 16.93, good enough to take the lead in the second go round. Kruse made her way into the average standings as well with a 34.68 seconds. She is currently eighth in Reno and 10th in the WPRA World standings.
Just 12 more barrel racers will compete for a chance in the Championship Round on Saturday night. Among the competitors on the docket for Friday are 2012 WPRA World Champion Mary Walker, former Reno Rodeo Champ Timi Lickley and WPRA World standings leader Nancy Hunter who hasn’t been lower than fifth here in three years.
1. Jill Welsh, French First Watch, 16.88 seconds
2. Sherrylynn Johnson, Leading Tradition, 17.20
3. Kassidy Dennison, Sierra Hall of Fame, 17.31
4. Kaley Bass, Wonders Cowboy Dan, 17.33
5. Barbara Merrill, Famous Jayda, 17.35
6. Callie DuPerier, Rare Dillion, 17.36
7. Calyssa Thomas, TRcashenbadger, 17.36
8. Ruth Haislip, Famous Scarlett, 17.39
9. Christina Richman, Xtrared, 17.42
10. Danna Whitford, 17.47
1. Cassidy Kruse, JKR Assured Win, 16.93 seconds
2. Bass, 16.94
3. Sarah McDonald, Fame Fling N Bling, 16.98
4. Welsh, 17.04
5. Pam Capper, Sheza Smooth Flight, 17.13
6. Christine Laughlin, Guys Six Pack to Go, 17.16
7. Katelyn McLeod, Kellies Chick, 17.16
8. Jaime Hinton, OJS Tex Wood, 17.19
9. Richman, 17.19
10. Dennison, 17.23
1. Welsh, 33.92 seconds on two head
2. Bass, 34.27
3. Dennison, 34.54
4. Richman, 34.61
5. McDonald, 34.62
6. Thomas, 34.64
7. Kruse, 34.68
8. Duperier, 34.67
9. Haislip, 34.73
10. Richardson, Doda Flit, 34.76
11. Capper, 34.79
12. Johnson, 34.82
13. Merrill, 34.82
Courtesy of WPRA