By Jolee Jordan
Lone Star Standout — Kinsel Keeps on Winning
San Antonio, Texas—There really is something special about Hailey Kinsel and her golden mare Sister.
It’s not just that they make fun to watch, fast and exciting barrel runs. It’s not only how much they’ve won and how short a time span it’s been to accomplish such major resume stuffing titles.
It’s more than what they’re doing inside rodeo arenas . . . it’s the way they do it. The incredible Sister, with her lighting fast feet and her grit, has horse lovers simply drooling. Always with humility and grace, Kinsel is appreciative of her wins; she seems able to find a way to shine a spotlight on things important to her which are apart from her wins.
The sum total is that this is a team that everyone wants to cheer on to more and more victories.
Case in point was the 2019 edition of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, where Kinsel and Sister won for the second consecutive time and in a huge way. Following the win, Kinsel’s thoughts and words were on a friend lost tragically the week before and she dedicated the victory to Cody Lawrence and his friends and family.
Lawrence was a South Texas roper and a friend of Kinsel’s who passed on Friday, February 15 at the age of 27. Kinsel happened to begin her 2019 San Antonio journey that night, competing in the fourth of five brackets in the tournament style rodeo. She won the round that night, and another the next day, to march into the semi-finals in her title defense. She competed in the second semi-final set on Thursday and Friday, February 21-22.
Amber Moore came into the set of semi-finalists ranked fifth by money won but quickly erased any doubt that the 2017 San Antonio champion would be back in the finals for the third straight year. Her gritty mare Paige was perfect posting a 14.02 as the third out on the ground.
With the $5,000 go round win, Moore moved up to second behind Kinsel, who won third on the night and virtually assured her spot into the final go. Kathy Grimes, the reserve champ here the year Moore won it, was 14.07 as the final runner of the night to win second in the go.
With one round left to clinch a finals berth, the ladies on the inside were Kinsel ($9,500), Moore ($8,750), Grimes ($6,875), Shali Lord ($6,500) and Jana Bean ($4,500). The remaining five were all one round victory away from being as high as third, leaving the field wide open for the second go after which the final cut of the rodeo happens.
On Friday night, the reigning San Antonio champ Kinsel roared through the pattern in 13.83 seconds, the second fastest run of the rodeo thus far. She cruised to her third round win during the 2019 rodeo and ended with $14,500 in earnings already.
Ericka Nelson and her great gelding Friday sprinted to their best run of the rodeo just when she needed it the most. Her time of 13.97 seconds took second in the round and allowed the Florida cowgirl to advance to the finals with $8,000 won.
Moore finished fourth in the round and second in the group with $10,250 total earnings to move into the finals along with Grimes and Lord.
Moore, Kinsel and Jessie Telford were the only three of the ten finalists who were in this spot a year ago and only Grimes had made this round in any other year. On the other end of the spectrum, Dona Kay Rule and Jimmie Smith made it through the five previous rounds and two qualification cuts during their very first San Antonio rodeo experiences.
Smith entered San Antonio with the highest WPRA World standings ranking at number two while Telford was the lowest at 194th. With first place prize money at $15,000 on the final night, the final run was as pressure packed as any previous round here, offering a big standings boost to whoever claimed the final victory lap.
Moore had the chance to draw first blood after drawing the number one position on the final night. The winner of the Championship round the last two years sprinted toward a third straight win but an unfortunate tip of the second barrel cost her the round win, though her time of 13.87 seconds was very fast.
Telford and Cool Whip posted a solid 14.11 in the second position followed by Smith and her mare Lena. Though the first two corners were quite fast, a little too much real estate around the third cost the precious tenths on the clock and the pair were 14.29 seconds.
As the next in the line-up, Nelson and Friday also ran into penalty troubles, tipping over the second barrel on a run that would have been 14.42 seconds.
With Telford still clinging to the lead, new crowd favorite and San Antonio rookie Dona Kay Rule and her horse Valor rolled down the alley. After another smooth and flawless run, the scoreboard showed 14.10, putting the Prairie Circuit Finals champ to the lead as the field hit the halfway mark.
The lead was short-lived, as it turned out, as Mountain States champ Shali Lord and the tough stud horse she calls Can Man shaved time around each turn, stopping the clock at 14.04 seconds.
Reigning Canadian champ Callahan Crossley was the next barrel racer, riding the ageless Brownie who carried not only Callahan but both of her older sisters to the College National Finals Rodeo. The dynamic duo were 14.31 seconds in their first San Antonio finals, solid but out of the money.
Elsie’s mom was next—former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo cowgirl Nikki Hansen. Hansen and her gelding Sky finished up with 14.34 seconds.
Lord held the lead at 14.04 as Kinsel worked her way up the alley. Just another high pressure situation for the reigning WPRA World Champ and no one has handled those moments better in the last few years than the pair from Cotulla, Texas.
Despite a little room on the first barrel, born perhaps of a slight slip, and a lost stirrup, Sister was fast enough on the final two turns, stopping the clock at 14.02 seconds, to steal the lead from Lord.
The final lady with a chance to dethrone the hometown favorite was Kathy Grimes. Her mare Issy had won a pair of rounds already and her quick pass around the pattern came close again. At 14.07, she slid into third behind Kinsel and Lord while Rule earned the final check of the night with her 14.10.
For the second straight year, Kinsel was crowned the champion in the rodeo just an hour up the road from her home, earning the huge $5,000 gas card and gorgeous buckle given to the winners. Sister also earned a repeat title, taking the Animal Athlete Award for the WPRA barrel racing.
En route to becoming the first repeat winner of San Antonio since the change to a tournament format—and first since Mandy Terry in 1994-1995 in any format—Kinsel added $29,500 to her season earnings. She more than doubled her 2019 total and now has more than $50,000 won for the year in just about a half dozen rodeos entered.
“The super loud crowd, one stirrup, and an honest horse made this run so memorable!” Kinsel posted to social media following the win.
“The win is memorable too, but came from much more than just the runs,” Kinsel continued. She thanked fellow competitor Carley Cervi for the fortuitous trade which allowed her to compete in both San Antonio and the finals in Fort Worth. Then she turned to mom, Leslie, with whom trained Sister to be the champion she has become.
“Thank you to my mom who came down with us each night at San Antonio to help with the yellow devil dragon beast post-run, so that I could enjoy a victory lap without worrying about my horse.”
Kinsel also thanked the rodeo and its connections for the good ground conditions as well as her huge cheering section.
“Thank you to my family and dear friends that came out to support, as well as the many people who cheered without knowing me, just because I’m from Cotulla,” she wrote.
Kinsel took time to talk about her friend Lawrence and her equine partner.
“Of course, Sister, for your big heart and try. I’m most thankful to our rodeo family’s newest guardian angel, Cody, for riding along with us.”
As she did a year ago, Kinsel won four of the six rounds in which she competed, taking a second and a third in the other two. But, because she won the heavily stacked final round, she won more than $4,000 more here than she did a year ago.
This is Kinsel’s second big stock show win of 2019; she claimed the win at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo just a few weeks ago.
Lord moved her total for the season to nearly $28,000, which should put her near the top five of the new standings.
“Thankful for a great run in the short round winning 2nd for $12,000 and a total of $18,500 at San Antonio!” she posted on her Facebook page. “Can Man is a blessing and tries so hard! Thank you to his team and our great sponsors!”
Five ladies earned more than $10,000 while in the Alamo City: Kinsel, Lord, Grimes, Rule and Moore.
For more information on the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.sarodeo.com.
- Amber Moore, CP Dark Moon, 14.02, $5,000
- Kathy Grimes, KG Justiceweexpected, 14.07, $4,000
- Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 14.13, $2,500
- Shali Lord, Freckles ta Fame, 14.17, $1,500
- Kinsel, 13.83, $5,000
- Ericka Nelson, Goodfrenchmanfriday, 13.97, $4,000
- Jackie Ganter, Howes a Tycoon, 14.00, $2,500
- Moore, 14.03, $1,500
Total Money Won
*Hailey Kinsel, $14,500
*Amber Moore, $10,250
*Ericka Nelson, $8,000
*Kathy Grimes, $6,875
*Shali Lord, $6,500
Jackie Ganter, $5,000
Jana Bean, $4,500
Ivy Conrado, $3,250
Emily Miller, $2,500
Katelyn Scott, $2,500
*Advance to Finals
Finals Qualifiers with Total Winnings
Hailey Kinsel, $14,500
Amber Moore, $10,250
Dona Kay Rule, $9,750
Callahan Crossley, $9,250
Jessie Telford, $8,750
Ericka Nelson, $8,000
Jimmie Smith, $7,750
Kathy Grimes, $6,875
Shali Lord, $6,500
Nikki Hansen, $6,500
- Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 14.02, $15,000
- Lord, Freckles ta Fame, 14.04, $12,000
- Grimes, KG Justiceweexpected, 14.07, $7,500
- Rule, High Valor, 14.10, $4,500
- Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 14.11
- Smith, Lena On the Rocks, 14.29
- Crossley, Brownie Bi Bogie, 14.31
- Hansen, Sky High Guy, 14.34
- Moore, CP Dark Moon, 18.87
- Nelson, Goodfrenchmanfriday, 19.42
Total Earnings (Finalists)
Hailey Kinsel, $29,500
Shali Lord, $18,500
Kathy Grimes, $14,375
Dona Kay Rule, $14,250
Amber Moore, $10,250
Callahan Crossley, $9,250
Jessie Telford, $8,750
Ericka Nelson, $8,000
Jimmie Smith, $7,750
Nikki Hansen, $6,500
Rule Rules the Roost in Semifinal 1 in San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas—Dona Kay most assuredly rules.
Dona Kay Rule has burst into the national spotlight in 2019 after a solid and determined season a year ago that culminated with a huge $8,000-plus clean sweep of the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo.
Now, she’s qualified for some of the biggest venues of the winter including the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo (SASSR) and she’s not letting the opportunity go to waste.
The cowgirl who hails from Oklahoma is quickly becoming a crowd favorite but for folks behind the scenes who’ve known the humble mother and grandmother, business owner and talented trainer for years, they’ve been fans for some time. That’s because of the way Rule handles herself and her horses, with quiet assurance and always a smile.
Though she’s ridden and competed as a roper and barrel racer for many years, Rule never made it a priority to hit the road; she was running National Saddlery with her husband John and raising her family. She trained good ones and sent them down the road with new owners to help supplement the family income.
But the time finally came for the former WPRA Pioneer Award winner to step into the sun . . . with kids raised and the business now in another’s hands, Rule is taking on the best in the WPRA aboard horses she trained. And she is winning, including finishing as the leader of the first semi-finals group in San Antonio.
Rule made her first appearance at the SASSR this season. The rodeo is a tournament style event; 50 contestants began the journey here just over a week ago, competing in one of five brackets. After three rounds per bracket, only four cowgirls are left standing, moving on to one of two, two-night semi-finals beginning Tuesday night, February 19.
Rule earned her semi-final spot with a clutch performance in the final round of Bracket 5. After earning just one fourth place check in the first two rounds, Rule and her gelding Valor broke through for the third go win to move on to the next round.
But the pressure mounts with each round—only those with the most money will stick around for more chances to cash in. Five cowgirls from each semi-finals—by virtue of the most money earned in three bracket rounds and two semi-finals—advance to the Finals, setting up a ten player final night for the championship.
Every round in San Antonio is sudden death, no averages are paid and the only thing that matters is going as fast as possible each and every time down the alley.
The opening round of Semi-Final 1 was won by Nikki Hansen. Hansen was the final qualifier from Bracket 4, earning $1,500 in her first three runs around AT&T Center. She and her gelding Sky kicked it up a notch for the next round, however, stopping the clock at 14.07 for the win.
Semi-Final rounds pay double what bracket rounds do so the $5,000 first place check was a huge boost to Hansen’s hopes to keep playing here in the Alamo City.
Already ranked 15th in the WPRA World standings, Rule was right on Hansen’s heels in the first go, winning second thanks to her 14.10 seconds run.
Actually, circuit champions swept the money holes in round one with Hansen (Badlands), Rule (Prairie), Callahan Crossley (Columbia River) and Lacinda Rose (Great Lakes) picking up checks.
At the halfway point, Crossley was the leading money earner with $7,750 won through four rounds. Rule sat just $250 behind her while Hansen had jumped to third with $6,500 won. Rose was fourth with $5,125 won while Kelly Bruner, the high money earner coming into the semi-finals, sat fifth with $5,000 won.
The sudden death format has a way of squeezing big performances out of cowboys and cowgirls and that certainly happened on Wednesday night.
2018 Wrangler National Finalist Jessie Telford and 2018 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith took the wringing and found the extra gear they needed during the second night of Semi-Finals 1.
Neither cowgirl was inside the top five in money won as the night began with Smith running third on the ground. Riding her fantastic palomino mare Lena, she stopped the clock in a quick time of 13.97 seconds, one of only a handful of sub-fourteens posted this year.
Telford won third at this rodeo in 2018, a huge boost that helped her earn a first trip to Las Vegas for the Wrangler NFR. She did it by winning a couple of rounds, including one in semi-finals competition.
History could be repeating . . . she won a round already during Bracket 3 and picked up a semi-finals win with her time of 13.88 on Wednesday night.
“The confidence this horse gives me, as a jockey is next to none,” she wrote of the homegrown gelding she calls Cool Whip. “We won the round tonight, and are headed to the short round Saturday night.”
Telford has been plenty busy while in Texas; after competing in San Antonio, she headed north to the NRCHA World Show in Fort Worth where her daughters are showing and her husband Jake is competing in the World’s Greatest Horseman.
Telford’s big win moved her to $8,750 in earnings while Smith’s second place finish jumped her to $7,750. The cowgirls ended the set third and fourth, respectively, advancing to the semi-finals.
Rule was third on the night with Crossley right behind her for another check.
Rule won the group with $9,750 in earnings, switching to $500 ahead of Crossley, who has placed in every payoff in which she’s competed while in San Antonio.
Hansen once again took the final qualifying position. Her $6,500 in earnings held off Rose and Bruner, who failed to cash in on Wednesday.
The last cut to the field prior to the Finals happens at the conclusion of Semi-Final 2 on Friday night, February 22. The set begins on Thursday and features a tough group of ladies led by the last two winners here in San Antonio: Hailey Kinsel and Amber Moore.
Kinsel easily advanced from her bracket after winning two rounds and finishing second in another. She’s won $7,000, more than any other barrel racer through bracket competition.
Moore also won a round, the middle round of Bracket 5, along with picking up a third place check to enter the semi-finals with $3,750. She comes in $500 ahead of Ivy Conrado, who’s been in the Finals here in each of the last three years.
Former Wrangler NFR competitor and current Mountain States Circuit champ Shali Lord is second entering Semi-Final 2 with $5,000 won, just ahead of Jana Bean’s $4,500.
Ericka Nelson ($4,000), Kathy Grimes ($2,875), and Emily Miller, Jackie Ganter, and Katelyn Scott ($2,500 each) round out the set.
Interestingly, seven of the ten ladies have already made a victory lap around AT&T Center in 2019 for winning a go round.
The Final round will be just one more run with the winner taking home a huge check worth $15,000. Once the payout from the final round is figured in, the San Antonio Championship will be awarded to the cowgirl with the most money won throughout the six runs. The winner earns bragging rights, a gorgeous buckle and an impressive line of prizes. The top Animal Athletes are also named.
- Nikki Hansen, Sky High Guy, 14.07, $5,000
- Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 14.10, $4,000
- Callahan Crossley, Brownie Bi Bogie, 14.12, $2,500
- Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, 14.14, $1,500
- Jessie Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 13.88, $5,000
- Jimmie Smith, Lena on the Rocks, 13.97, $4,000
- Rule, 14.06, $2,500
- Crossley, 14.11, $1,500
Total Money Won
*Dona Kay Rule, $9,750
*Callahan Crossley, $9,250
*Jessie Telford, $8,750
*Jimmie Smith, $7,750
*Nikki Hansen, $6,500
Lacinda Rose, $5,125
Kelly Bruner, $5,000
Tillar Murray, $4,500
KL Spratt, $4,000
Christine Laughlin, $2,750
*Advance to Finals
Kinsel Dominates Bracket Competition in San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas—As Mother Nature gave indication of being bi-polar over the weekend—or it was just “Texas weather” according to the locals—the final two brackets competed in San Antonio, going from nearly 90 degree temps on Friday to closer to 50 on Sunday.
Despite the ups-and-downs in weather, the competition remained reliably hot inside AT&T Center during the 2019 edition of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo with top performances by the ladies of the WPRA.
One of the huge winter stock show rodeos that bring lucrative purses to ProRodeo competitors, San Antonio is a tournament style rodeo. The rodeo is divided into brackets of 10 contestants each and each bracket holds three rounds of preliminary competition. At the end of the third round, the top four money winners from the three rounds (no average money is figured or paid) advance to the Semi-Finals.
Total payout is nearly $200,000 for the ladies of the WPRA, making San Antonio one of the richest rodeos of the season. Famous for its hospitality, it is a ProRodeo Hall of Fame committee and has been named the Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year many times over by the PRCA.
Bracket competition wound up over the weekend, setting the stage for the Semi-Finals beginning on Tuesday night, February 19.
Each of the two, ten-contestant semi-finals is comprised of two more rounds, paying more than the preliminary rounds and contestants again vie for round money to add to their bracket earnings. The five highest money winners from each semi-finals will move on to the finals, February 23.
The key to success here is grabbing as much cash as you can . . . not only does a high bracket earnings total advance a competitor to the semi-finals, it makes the path to the finals a bit easier as well. And, because the champion here is crowned on total money won, being the last cowgirl standing on Saturday night depends largely on a big performance in earlier rounds.
Two cowgirls who know well how to play this game are the last two champions here, Amber Moore and Hailey Kinsel. Both competed over the weekend and were left with a chance to earn a second title as the final week of the SASSR begins.
The fourth bracket featured the return of 2018 SASSR Champion Hailey Kinsel to AT&T Center and the cowgirl who is practically a local here did not disappoint (her home in Cotulla is just over an hour away). The reigning WPRA World Champ picked up the opening round win on Friday night, February 15th, by more than two tenths of a second.
Her 13.93 aboard the super fast mare Sister was the only run under fourteen seconds during the round.
Callahan Crossley and the ageless Brownie finished second at 14.20 seconds. Crossley is the reigning Canadian Champion and her partner Brownie Bi Bogie is 21 this year.
The group returned on Saturday for a pair of rounds held during the matinee and evening performances.
In round two, Emily Miller stole the show as the only cowgirl in the 13’s. Miller had tipped a pair of barrels in round one to be very fast and corrected the mistake for the round win on Saturday afternoon aboard her gelding Chongo. Miller’s time of 13.88 seconds earned her $2,500.
Kinsel was right on her heels at 14.01 while Crossley won third with a time identical to her first round time of 14.20 seconds.
A few hours later, Kinsel was right back to the top of the board on Saturday night with the bracket’s best time of 13.84 seconds. She easily clinched the bracket win with total earnings nearly maxed out at $7,000 and took to social media to dedicate the win to a lost friend.
“Yesterday and today I have been reminded of what a strong, loving South/Central Texas rodeo family I was blessed with growing up,” Kinsel posted on Facebook. “Not only at the rodeo in San Antonio, but through the loss of our dear friend Cody Lawrence.” A fellow rodeo competitor, Lawrence tragically passed away on February 15 at the age of 27.
“Cody was a wonderful, beautiful person with the biggest heart. He made everyone he talked to feel like somebody, including me since I can’t remember when. He will be dearly missed here on earth by all of us while he’s at the biggest roping of all on the best horse, but we’ll get there someday too and be greeted by that same big smile,” she continued. “To that special rodeo family, this round win was for you.”
“We will be back in San Antonio for the semi finals next week. Until then, hug your loved ones tight and please keep Cody’s family and friends in your prayers.”
Crossley and Brownie found another gear, stopping the clock at 13.94 seconds for another second place finish. She finished with earnings of $5,450, moving on to the next round.
Miller had an equipment malfunction in round three that resulted in a no time but her round two victory proved enough to keep the Oklahoma cowgirl in contention for a title. She advanced with $2,500 in earnings.
Nikki Hansen rounded out the Bracket 4 semi-finalist with three solid runs aboard her gelding Sky. She picked up two fourth place checks in rounds one and three to secure her spot with $1,500 won.
All Tied Up
The first round of the final bracket on Sunday afternoon was almost more about survival than anything else. Of the ten cowgirls, six suffered barrel penalties. With so many ladies having troubles, the final two to run, Michelle Darling and Dona Kay Rule, knew they just needed to go clean for a check and they did.
Jimmie Smith was the first to run and posted a smoking fast run of 14.09 seconds to earn the round win and take the inside route towards the semi-finals.
On Sunday night, former San Antonio champion Amber Moore and Paige found their groove, taking the win with a flawless run of 14.01 seconds. Ivy Conrado and JLo came thundering back after a hit barrel in round one cost them a check; their time of 14.19 was good enough for second. Smith was in the money again, this time winning third.
“My first day San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo was unforgettable! Thank you Lena for all your try,” Smith posted to Facebook after competing in her first San Antonio rodeo performances.
With six different ladies earning money in the opening rounds on Sunday, the field was still wide open for the four positions into the semi-finals. It all came down to the final run of preliminary action, held on Monday, February 18.
Lisa Lockhart began the night with zero in earnings after running into penalty issues on the Sunday runs. She righted the ship with her mare Rosa, running a smooth 14.12 seconds as the first gal to run down the alley.
Lockhart’s time held on all the way to the final lady to compete, Prairie Circuit Finals champion Dona Kay Rule. Rule had grabbed a fourth place check on Sunday afternoon but really needed to add some cash to the total to move on and she did with a round winning spin through the pattern in 14.07 seconds.
Though they failed to place on the final night, Moore and Smith finished as co-champions of the bracket with $3,750 each. Rule’s big win allowed her to tie with Ivy Conrado for third and fourth with matching earnings of $3,250.
Next Up: Semi-Finals
The first of two semi-finals gets underway on Tuesday night, February 19. All cowgirls in this round will get two more runs to add to their total earnings. The second semi-final begins on Thursday night, February 21 and the field will be finalized on Friday, February 22.
- Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 13.93, $2,500
- Callahan Crossley, Brownie Bi Bogie, 14.20, $2,000
- Tracy Nowlin, DJG Madison, 14.27, $1,250
- Nikki Hansen, Sky High Guy, 14.33, $750
- Emily Miller, Namgis D33, 13.88, $2,500
- Kinsel, 14.01, $2,000
- Crossley, 14.20, $1,250
- Cheyenne Allan, RS Mollys Honor, 14.21, $750
- Kinsel, 13.84, $2,500
- Crossley, 13.94, $2,000
- Leia Pluemer, Famous French Bug, 14.11, $1,250
- Hansen, 14.20
Total Money Won
*Advance to Semi-Finals
- Jimmie Smith, Lena on the Rocks, 14.09, $2,500
- Michelle Darling, Morning Traffic, 14.30, $2,000
- Amber Moore, CP Dark Moon, 14.31, $1,250
- Dona Kay Rule, High Valor, 14.42, $750
- Moore, 14.01, $2,500
- Ivy Conrado, KN Fabs Gift of Fame, 14.19, $2,000
- Smith, 14.22, $1,250
- Kellie Collier, Koolspeed Ta Kash, 14.23, $750
- Rule, 14.07, $2,500
- Lisa Lockhart, Rosas Cantina CC, 14.12, $2,000
- Conrado, 14.14, $1,250
- Darling, 14.34, $750
Total Money Won
*Amber Moore, $3,750
*Jimmie Smith, $3,750
*Dona Kay Rule, $3,250
*Ivy Conrado, $3,250
Lisa Lockhart, $2,000
Michelle Darling, $2,750
Kellie Collier, $750
San Angelo, Texas—The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo (SASSR) hit the midway point of preliminary competition during the Valentine’s Day week as the third of five preliminary brackets completed competition.
San Antonio is one of a series of incredibly lucrative stock shows during the winter for professional cowboys and cowgirls. A hot run through the stops—from Denver to San Angelo to Fort Worth then San Antonio, Houston and Austin—can easily launch a competitor into the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) at season’s end and even help them realize gold buckle dreams.
A multiple-time PRCA Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year winner, San Antonio is a favorite among competitors for its huge purse, lack of entry fees, and great hospitality. Limited to just 50 contestants in each event, San Antonio runs in tournament style, beginning with five brackets of ten contestants each in preliminary competition. Following three rounds of sudden death competition, the top four money earners from each bracket advance to a two round semi-finals.
Only money carries forward—no times or averages—and advancement to the final round is based on earnings from both bracket competition and the two semi-final rounds. The final round is comprised of the top five money winners from each semi-finals for a total of ten competitors.
The final round will be held on February 23 and is the most lucrative go round of the rodeo, paying $15,000 to the winner. Following the payoff from the final round, the championship is awarded to the cowgirl who has won the most money throughout the rodeo.
Eight cowgirls are already waiting for their semi-final runs and four more joined the elite group as Bracket 3 contested on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday came to a close.
Odessa, Texas cowgirl Katelyn Scott drew blood first, picking up the opening go round win aboard her horse Beans. Scott’s time of 14.29 seconds was one tenth better than WPRA sophomore KL Spratt.
A year ago, Idaho cowgirl Jessie Telford made a big splash in the Alamo City, finishing third for more than $15,000 in earnings. The money proved to be the springboard for her first trip to the Wrangler NFR.
While many other cowgirls have had a busy winter on the stock show circuit, Telford has been taking a break from rodeoing, doing family stuff and enjoying a well earned vacation. But with San Antonio coming up, it was time for Telford to hit the road once again.
“Feeling a little late to the party .... but finally loaded down and headed South!” Telford posted on her Facebook prior to her trip. “San Antonio, Tucson, The American and Houston....pretty crazy to realize I was able to run at the finals, before ever running at Houston. Thank you so much to all my amazing sponsors for getting us ready to take on 2019!”
After seemingly knocking the rust off in round one on Tuesday, Telford and her home grown gelding turned up the heat in round two. They were the first in Bracket 3 to break the fourteen second barrier, stopping the clock in 13.99 seconds for the round win.
“Cool Whip got it done last night in San Antonio!” Telford posted following the win.
Jana Bean and Chick bounced back from penalty blues in the first round to sprint to second with a run of 14.09. Teri Bangart and Cheyenne Wimberley—third and fourth respectively in round one—switched positions in the next go to be the only two gals in the money on the first two nights.
With advancement still very much up in the air, the ten cowgirls were hoping for a sweet surprise on Valentine’s Day in the form of a big win on the final night of Bracket 3.
Bean slammed the door shut with a strong performance, taking the victory lap with her run of 13.97 seconds. The win ran her bracket earnings to $4,500, best of the group to lead the way into the semi-finals.
“Chick making two nice runs to help us get back to the semi finals at San Antonio!” Bean went on social media following the win. “Thank you to everyone who has helped and encouraged me! And always to Breck Bean and Jim Breck Bean for your endless support! Thank you Jesus for your continued blessings!”
Spratt took another second place finish in round three, while Telford placed again, this time third in the round. The two cowgirls moved on to the semi-finals, Spratt second with $4,000 won and Telford third with $3,750.
Spratt secured her spot while wearing an outfit designed to honor friends and former Sam Houston State Rodeo teammates, Bailee and Will Byler, who tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in the hours following their wedding last fall.
“O.K. and I ran in San Antonio tonight in red boots for Bailee and a Revamped Rodeo shirt that I made with steer wrestlers on it for Will!” Spratt noted on Facebook; a social media campaign spread around the SHSU campus for students to wear red shoes—a favorite of Bailee’s—on Valentine’s Day. “We won second tonight and advanced to the semi finals!” She included the hashtags #happyvalentinesday, #redforbaileebyler, and #Godisstillgood.
The fourth and final spot to the next round went to round one winner Scott. The $2,500 payday from the victory was just enough to hold off Bangart and Wimberley, who pocketed $2,000 apiece.
The final two brackets will contest over the weekend with Bracket 4 on Friday night and during two Saturday performances. Bracket 5 kicks off during a pair of perfs on Sunday and finishes out on Monday night.
Bracket 4 is led by reigning San Antonio Champ and WPRA World Champ Hailey Kinsel. Kinsel set the arena record here a year ago en route to her title, posting a lightning fast run of 13.60 seconds during the semi-finals. She is fresh off the win at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
The 2017 San Antonio Champ Amberleigh Moore—who also won the final round here in 2018—leads Bracket 5 along with 2018 Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith and 2018 WPRA Reserve World Champ Jessica Routier.
For more information on the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.sarodeo.com. Stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates from the 2019 edition.
1. Katelyn Scott, Shiney Gold Bid, 14.29, $2,500
2. KL Spratt, KK Cash Colours, 14.39, $2,000
3. Teri Bangart, RCA Three Bugs Honor, 14.40, $1,250
4. Cheyenne Wimberley, Streakin Images, 14.42, $750
1. Jesse Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 13.99, $2,500
2. Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, 14.09, $2,000
3. Wimberley, 14.10, $1,250
4. Bangart, 14.13, $750
1. Bean, 13.97, $2,500
2. Spratt, 14.02, $2,000
3. Telford, 14.06, $1,250
4. Tiany Schuster, 14.11, $750
*Advance to Semi-Finals
San Angelo, Texas—Though not established in its current form until 1950, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo can trace its roots back years earlier when the small south Texas town hosted one of the first Texas Agricultural Fairs. Other similar fairs followed in the years to come but none took hold until a plan was made to make a home for the event.
What became the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo (SASSR) gained a foundation with the opening of the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum in 1949. The following February, the first SASSR was held in the Coliseum with events continuing there until 2003 when the new AT&T Center opened.
Today, the SASSR is a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, a multiple-time PRCA Indoor Rodeo of the Year winner and a very lucrative stop for rodeo athletes in the midst of the busy winter run of rodeos.
Unlike other stock show rodeos like Fort Worth, San Angelo and Denver, San Antonio runs under a tournament style format, limiting entries to just 50 contestants per event. Entries are based on both 2018 and 2019 WPRA World standings as well as 2018 WPRA Tour standings.
The 50 competitors are divided into five brackets. Each bracket has three rounds and there are no averages paid. The top four money earners from each bracket advance to the semi-finals, where they get two more rounds to earn as much money as possible.
Following the final round of the semi-finals, the top 5 from each group advance to the Finals held February 23. The final round pays $15,000 to the winner and the San Antonio Championship is awarded to the contestant who earns the most money across the six runs of the rodeo.
The rodeo got underway on Thursday, February 7 with the first bracket.
Nineteen years ago, Kelly Bruner scored what was likely the biggest win of her professional rodeo career at the time, winning the 2000 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. She came back to the Alamo City three years later to win the Finals at the same event.
In 2018 Bruner—always a top hand though never far from home due to running her own small animal veterinary practice—competed in San Antonio again, the first time the Millsap, Texas cowgirl had run under the tournament style format established in 2009. She won a go round in her bracket and advanced all the way to the finals, a win that was one more brick in her golden path to her first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Though much of her money in 2018 came aboard her tough gelding Suzy, Bruner turned to her youngster, Hollywood, during her first Wrangler NFR run and the young gun came to the plate in a big way. The now six-year old mare has worked her way into a starring role for Bruner after setting a new Ram Texas Circuit Finals arena record back in early January.
In San Antonio, Hollywood got the call again, responding in a huge way with a pair of round wins. Bruner took the opening round of Bracket One with a time of 13.80 seconds, the only run under 14 during the night. She won the third round with an even faster 13.76. Only a tipped barrel in round two on Friday prevented the pair from completing the clean sweep.
“Hollywood carried the day at San Antonio. What a blessing she is!” Bruner stated simply on Facebook.
Bruner cruised to the bracket win with $5,000 in earnings. She’ll be joined in the semi-finals by Tillar Murray, who won round two aboard Commander with a smooth run of 14.06 seconds. Murray placed in every payoff to amass $4,500 in earnings.
The final qualification holes went to Ericka Nelson and Jackie Ganter. Nelson and the always consistent Friday won two seconds in the opening rounds while Ganter bounced back from a tipped barrel in round one to win two thirds. Nelson pocketed $4,000 while Ganter won $2,500.
Only a few hours separated the end of Bracket One and the start of Bracket Two on Saturday.
Former Wrangler NFR cowgirl and current Mountain States Circuit Champion Shali Lord quickly took command of the bracket with a win in round one. Riding Can Man, Lord picked up the victory lap with a run of 14.12 seconds.
In what played out as a theme throughout the bracket, the round was incredibly competitive with only seven one-hundredths of a second separating the top four cowgirls. Behind Lord was newlywed Carley Cervi at 14.15, Lacinda Rose—another circuit champ, this one hailing from the Great Lakes—at 14.16 and Christine Laughlin at 14.19.
It was a big night for Rose—with her family of four kids split between famous Texas Stock Shows, her husband Adam won Fort Worth on Saturday night with partner Jett Hillman while she placed in San Antonio.
“Adam won Fort Worth tonight!” she noted on social media. “And Real Deal and I won 3rd in the first round at San Antonio.” Overall, it was a nearly $10,000 night for the family.
Lord stayed solid through the next two rounds, picking up two more checks for third in each round to top the bracket at $5,000.
The round two win went to Kathy Grimes and her mare Izzy. The duo won the round with a run of 13.91 seconds. Rose, Lord and Sabra O’Quinn—the Southeastern Circuit Finals champ—also picked up checks.
After a heartbreaking downed barrel cost her the round one win, Sissy Winn stormed back in round three on Monday night, taking the win with a run of 13.95 seconds. Behind her smoking run, the field stayed jam packed with Laughlin in second at 14.14, Lord third at 14.15, and Rose and Grimes tied up at 14.19.
Rose came away as the second high money winner in the bracket, earning $3,625 for her three checks. Grimes was third at $2,875 and the final qualifying position went to Laughlin. The Colorado cowgirl won $2,750.
Bracket Three will dominate the week in San Antonio with a perf each day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The competitors scheduled to compete include Wrangler NFR cowgirls Kylie Weast, Jana Bean, Tiany Schuster, Cheyenne Wimberley, Carman Pozzobon and Jessie Telford, who finished third here a year ago. Also in the field is WPRA World Champion Fallon Taylor.
Also in the mix are KL Spratt, a top rookie from 2018, perennial top thirty cowgirl Katelyn Scott and Teri Bangart, the Columbia River Circuit champion who just missed the Wrangler NFR in 2018.
- Kelly Bruner, French Zone, 13.80, $2,500
- Ericka Nelson, Goodfrenchmanfriday, 14.20, $2,000
- Tillar Murray, Royal Star Commander, 14.21, $1,250
- Carmel Wright, Fortunes Last Xreme, 14.22, $750
- Murray, 14.06, $2,500
- Nelson, 14.09, $2,000
- Jackie Ganter, Howes A Tycoon, 14.14, $1,250
- Stevi Hillman, Luv My Fame, 14.22, $750
- Bruner, 13.76, $2,500
- Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Ima Famous Babe, 13.92, $2,000
- Ganter, 14.14, $1,250
- Murray, 14.50, $750
Total Money Won
Pozzi Tonozzi, $2,000
*Advance to Semi-Finals
- Shali Lord, Freckles ta Fame, 14.12, $2,500
- Carley Cervi, Famous Whitch, 14.15, $2,000
- Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, 14.16, $1,250
- Christine Laughlin, Jess Undeniable, 14.19, $750
- Kathy Grimes, KG Justiceweexpected, 13.91, $2,500
- Rose, 14.08, $2,000
- Lord, 14.19, $1,250
- Sabra O’Quinn, Bring It On Guys, 14.27, $750
- Sissy Winn, Flashy Red Flame, 13.95, $2,500
- Laughlin, 14.14, $2,000
- Lord, 14.15, $1,250
- Rose, 14.19, $375
- Grimes, 14.19, $375
Total Money Won
*Advance to Semi-Finals