For the third consecutive year, the women of professional rodeo converged in Lincoln Neb., Oct. 12-21 for the 2012 WPRA World Finals presented by the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau.
At this year’s event $90,000 in added money was up for grabs with an additional $15,000 paid out in bonus money through the WPRA’s Pro Elite Stallion Incentive program. By the end of the weekend eight World champions were newly crowned along with other 2012 WPRA World Finals champions.
In the team roping, Lydia Martin of Sulpher, La., captured the team roping heading title after winning the first and third rounds at the finals with times of 7.7 and 6.9 seconds, respectively. For the team roping heeling world title Ashley Mills of Live Oak, Fla., held off defending champion Lari Dee Guy. Mills also won the average in 57.3 seconds on four head.
Heading into the finals in the tie-down roping Kelsie Chace of Cherokee, Okla., was sitting first in the leader standings winning over $5,800 in earnings throughout the year. She maintained her lead to take home her first tie-down roping world title, but she didn’t stop there. Chace competed in the all three roping events to narrowly edge out reigning all-around champion Jackie Hobbs for the 2012 all-around title. Hobbs had won the title the last four years in a row.
Rounding out the roping events was Erin Johnson of Pueblo, Colo., taking home the 2012 break away roping title, a repeat win for Johnson who had previously clamped the 2011 world breakaway buckle to her belt.
Although the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in December will officially crown the new WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer, there was still plenty of barrel racing action at the WPRA World Finals. The event hosted a Card Holder race, permit race, junior race, futurity, derby, sidepots and open 4D format runs. The WPRA World Finals Card Holder and Permits Only events consisted of two long rounds, and a short round made up from the top 30 average times. The fastest three runs averaged together determined the 2012 WPRA World Finals Champion.
Six-time Wrangler NFR qualifier Tammy Fischer of Ledbetter, Texas, proved her mount ‘Traffic Guy’ had the endurance for the three races with a combined time of 48.96 seconds, capturing the Card holder race average win with $2,642.06. Kendra Dickson, who won the title in 2011, rode her horse Dr Te Hancock closely on Fischer’s heels with a time of 49.10 seconds, good enough for $2,264.63. Former NFR qualifier Jill Moody of Letcher, S.D., clocked three runs on her horse TM Firefrost Annie at 49.15 seconds, winning third in the average and $1,887.19.
The Permit Only race was open to WPRA members who have won less than $1,000 since purchasing their permit. This race gives a few lucky girls the chance to fill their permits in one weekend to become official card holders within the association. One of those lucky girls was Casey Davis aboard Cookie Bar Nibbles. The pair turned in a combined time of 48.80 putting Davis well over her permit amount at $1,586.81 for the average win alone. Karleen Weigel and her horse Ima John Red also filled their permit with the average win alone, clocking a time of 49.70 for $1,360.13. Kayce Warren narrowly bumped into third in the average with her horse Nicky Nick Bar at 49.73 seconds worth $1,133.44 in the average. Local superstar Deanna Jo Smith and her stallion Streakin Ali tied up fourth in the average, bringing home $982.31.
Defending her 2011 title, Sandra Hart of Centerville, S.D., captured the WPRA Futurity World title for the second time. Her horse LM A Classy Design racked up 123 points over the year. Hermosa, S.D.’s Hallie Melvin and French Gold Charger took the reserve honors with 112 points. According to WPRA rules all futurity horses must be 5-years-old and younger and must not have competed for money, prizes or points any time before Dec. 1 of the previous year.
In addition to her futurity horse, Hart competed in the Derby division on the 2011 futurity champion Hart Ta Fame where she finished second to Ashley Baur and her mount Love Man’s Darling who were crowned the derby division champions with 54 points on the season. The WPRA Derby rules require horses to be 7-years-old and younger, as long as they did not compete in futurities as a 4-year-old. If they competed in the futurity ranks as a 4-year-old, then the cutoff age for the horse is 6-years-old.
Other small races were held during the finals including a junior race, slot race and new this year, a Calgary Tour Race, sponsored by the Calgary Stampede. Open 4D runs and Better Barrel Races sidepots allowed locals and non WPRA members in on the action as well.
Currently leading the WPRA Barrel racing heading into the NFR in Las Vegas is Brittany Pozzi of Victoria, Texas, leading the pack with $170,961.00 in earnings. Lindsay Sears of Alberta, Canada, is jockeying in second with $136,320.65 won so far this year. Mary Walker, Carlee Pierce and Sherry Cervi round out the top five. The top 15 in the standings will make their way to Vegas this December in the hopes of winning the world title. ❖