Hillman and Lemon Drop Turn in Blistering Fast Time on Night No. 2

Photo by Ric Andersen

SALT LAKE CITY – The event of the night on Thursday night at the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo was definitely the ladies barrel racing.

Stevi Hillman came out on top of a very tough barrel race that included four Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers and a current WPRA rookie. Hillman of Granbury, Texas, jockeyed her palomino Lemon Drop to the top of the leaderboard stopping the clock in a blistering fast time of 17.111 seconds to knock defending gold medalist Wenda Johnson to No. 2 on the leaderboard. Johnson finished in a time of 17.183 seconds.

Hillman will be looking for her first gold medal on Monday and while Johnson will have to wait to see if she will earn a wildcard spot based off her time tonight, she is definitely in the best position to earn that spot.

“She is just amazing,” said Hillman of her horse Lemon Drop. She is only a 6-year-old and she has done amazing things and I am blessed to have her.

“This rodeo pays really good and I am thankful for the invite and this crowd is awesome.”

Reigning World Champion Jordon Briggs finished the night third fastest in a time of 17.277 and will also have a good shot at returning to Salt Lake City on Monday. Prior to her run she watched her daughter, Bexley, compete in the mutton busting and win a trophy bigger than her. Rodeo is truly a family sport.

The Gold Standard in Rodeo features a total of 288 competitors, who will take their shot at a share of the $562,500 in prize money and a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal that will be awarded on Monday, July 25. There will be 32 competitors in each of the following events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, women’s breakaway roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

Last year Dalton Rudman of Wellington, Utah, won a silver medal after turning in a 90.5-point ride in the semifinal round, since only one bull rider rode in the gold medal round. He returned in 2022 and posted yet another 90.5 point ride this time on D&H Cattle’s Alakazam. He will look to improve on his silver medal finish from last year and stand atop the medal podium this year. He will no doubt have the hometown crowd behind him.

Joe Nelson of Alexander, North Dakota, was the first one in 2022 to break the 4-second mark in the steer wrestling at the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo stopping the clock in 3.62 seconds. Nelson advances to the Gold Medal Round on Monday and will hope to keep it fast in search of his first gold medal. Tristan Martin of Sulphur, Texas, was the only other sub-4-second run on Thursday night stopping the clock in 3.81 seconds. He is in good position to return as one of the wildcard contestants.

The full field of 32 competitors is divided into four groups of eight each and compete in one of the first four performances (July 20-23). The one (1) highest score/fastest time from each discipline of each performance will advance to the Gold Medal Round along with the three (3) highest scores/fastest times overall, from all four combined Semi-Final performances that have not yet advanced. In addition, the #1 ranked athlete in each discipline (for team roping it is highest ranked team after pairing) of the final audited standings of the WCRA Days of ’47 Rodeo Leaderboard will be automatically qualified for the Gold Medal Round making a total of eight (8) contestants in each discipline to compete in the Gold Medal Round. Scores/times from the Semi-Final performances will NOT carry forward to the Gold Medal Round (only to break ties). The 8 competitors in each event in the Gold Medal Round will compete in a sudden-death format with the winner collecting a Gold Medal and $25,000 cash.

George Gillespie of Darby, Montana, landed atop the leaderboard in the bareback riding with a 76-point ride on Legend Rode’s Critical Smile. He will be looking to improve on that score on Monday night.

Andrew Ward and Buddy Hawkins set the tone in the team roping on night No. 2 and held on for the top spot through the next seven teams. Ward of Edmond, Oklahoma and Buddy Hawkins of Stephenville, Texas, stopped the clock in 4.79 seconds. Brady Tryan and Jake Long were hot on their heels with a time of 4.89 seconds. Ward and Hawkins punched their ticket for Monday, while Tryan and Long will have to see if their time will earn them a wildcard spot.

Brandon Lansford from Cotulla, Texas, added $1,600 to his pockets after landing atop the leaderboard on night No. 2 in the saddle bronc riding. Lansford rode Macza’s Get Smart for 89.5 points and punched his ticket to Monday where he will be looking to add $25,000 more to his bank account.

It was a rough night in the tie-down roping with only three qualified times. No one did it better than Trenton Smith from Bigfoot, Texas, with an 8.55 second run. He will be looking to land atop the medal podium come Monday.

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank, is taking place at the $17.5 million state-of-the-art Days of ’47 Arena at the Utah State Fairpark, custom designed and built for rodeo. The venue—an outdoor arena located in the heart of Salt Lake City—features over 10,000 stadium-style seats.

Last night the Utah fans watched eight-time and ProRodeo Hall of Famer Speed Williams rope with this son, Gabe, in the team roping. Unfortunately they came up short with a no time. Tonight, his daughter Hali Williams competed in the breakaway roping and is definitely following in her father’s footsteps. She won the performance in a time of 2.33 seconds and will be looking for her first medal on Monday night. Her father, Speed, competed just north of Salt Lake City in Farmington, Utah, in 2002 in the Olympic Command Performance rodeo that ran at the same time as the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Speed and his partner at the time Rich Skelton, roped their way to a silver medal during that event. Hali will be looking to add to the family collection with her own medal.

For only the seventh time in the history of rodeo, riders will have an opportunity to compete for Gold, Silver or Bronze Medals. The first two times were in conjunction with the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary (1988) and Salt Lake City (2002), when rodeo was part of the Cultural Olympiad and the other four times being the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo 2017-2021. 2022 marks an official name change of the event to Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo. This will be the third time for breakaway ropers as their event was added to the roster in 2019. The medals that will be awarded at the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo will be produced by OC Tanner, the same company that made the Olympic medals for the champions of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Tickets are still available at For more information on the event visit

For those unable to attend in person the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo is being live streamed on RidePass PlutoTV-Channel 720 nightly at 7:30 p.m. MT. CBS will air the Gold Medal Round of the Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo on July 31 at 11 a.m. MT.

Action at the Utah Day of ’47 Rodeo continues July 22 at 7:30 p.m. MT.

Results: – Performance 1 – July 20, 2022

Bareback riding: 1. George Gillespie, Darby, MT, 76 points on Legend Rodeo’s Critical Smile, $1,600; 2. Darien Johnson, Garland, ID, 71.5 on Bar T Rodeo’s Maddam Sparrow, $1,200; 3. Weston Hamilton, Tellico Plains, TN, 57 on Bar T Rodeo’s Higher Standards, $800; 4. Zack Brown, Red Bluff, CA, Macza’s Black Magic, 44, $400.

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Dean Arthur Thompson, George Gillespie, RC Landingham

Steer wrestling: 1. Joe Nelson, Alexander, ND, 3.62 seconds, $1,600; 2. Tristan Martin, Sulphur, TX, 3.81, $1,200; 3. Tanner Brunner, Ramona, CA, 4.22, $800; 4. Bridger Anderson, Carrington, ND, 4.53, $400.

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Riley Duvall, Joe Nelson, Sam Powers

Team roping: 1. Andrew Ward, Edmond, OK/Buddy Hawkins, Stephenville, TX, 4.79 seconds, $1,600 each; 2. Brady Tryan, Huntley, MT/Jake Long, Coffeyville, KS, 4.89, $1,200; 3. Brandon Beers, Powell Butte, OR/Daniel Braman, 10.28, $800; no other qualified times

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill, Andrew Ward/Buddy Hawkins

Saddle bronc riding: 1. Brandon Lansford, Cotulla, TX, 89.5 points on Macza’s Get Smart, $1,600; 2. Kyle Hapney, Harrold, SD, 83.5 on Bar T Rodeo’s Hell Boy, $1,200; 3. Jack Smithson, Springfield, TX, 78 on Bar T Rodeo’s Son of Sadie, $800; 4. Ian McGivney, Kaycee, WY, 74.5 on Bar T Rodeo’s Pinto Pass, $400.

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Chase Brooks, Brandon Lansford, Kody Rinehart

Tie-down roping: 1. Trenton Smith, Bigfoot, TX, 8.55 seconds, $1,600; 2. Brody Baugh, Menard, TX, 13.77, $1,200; 3. Clint Arave, Blackfoot, ID, 16.39, $800; no other qualified runs

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Ace Slone, Trenton Smith, Riley Webb

Breakaway roping: 1. Hali Williams, Comanche, TX, 2.33 seconds, $1,600; 2 Taylor Engesser, Spearfish, SD, 2.51, $1,200; 3. Ashlee Carley, Seguin, TX, 6.04, $800; 4. Josey Murphy, Keachi, LA, 7.44, $400

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Jackie Crawford, Hali Williams, Josie Conner

Barrel racing: 1. Stevi Hillman, Granbury, TX, 17.111 seconds, $1,600; 2. Wenda Johnson, Pawhuska, OK, 17.183, $1,200; 3. Jordon Briggs, Tolar, TX, 17.277, $800; 4. Laura Mote, Llano, TX, 17.496, $400.

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Tiffani Sonnier, Stevi Hillman, Jana Guthrie

Bull riding: 1. Dalton Rudman, Wellington, UT, 90.5 points on D&H Cattle’s Alakazam, $1,600; no other qualified rides.

Gold Medal Round current qualifiers: Deklan Garland, Dalton Rudman, Rafael Jose De Britto Vinagre

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