By Jolee Jordan
Waco, Texas—The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) has been celebrating its 70th year of promoting women in the sport throughout the year; the many years of hard work toward the betterment of the ladies of pro rodeo was fully on display at the 2018 WPRA World Finals held in Waco, Texas on October 18-21, 2018 where cowgirls competed for their share of $100,000 in cash and bonus money along with an incredible prize line from the many WPRA sponsors.
The WPRA World Finals is the season culminating event for all of the WPRA programs except the barrel racing, whose championships are decided at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in December.
During a fast and furious four days of action inside the two arenas at the Extraco Events Center, WPRA World titles were decided in the four roping disciplines along with the WPRA’s youth programs . . . the one for jockeys, the WPRA Juniors, and for horses, the WPRA Futurity and Derby.
The WPRA offered a number of side pots as well such as the Gold Card and Divisional Circuit side pots and bonus money for those riding horses registered in the Pro Elite Sire Incentive Program (PESI), the WPRA’s one-of-a-kind stallion incentive program rewarding the owners and breeders of professional rodeo horses.
The star of the weekend was once again Stephenville, Texas cowgirl Jackie Crawford. Crawford picked up her 18th career WPRA World title in the Roping Division thanks to a huge two day storm through the field of elite ropers. All roping events were four go rounds, two held on Friday, October 19 and two more on Saturday, October 20.
Crawford won first and second in the team roping average after four rounds while heading for Jessica Remsburg and heeling for Kelsie Chace. She and Remsburg were 27.50 on four head while she and Chace were 33.8 on four steers.
Crawford captured yet another tie down roping average championship with 49.9 on four calves and was second in the breakaway roping behind Loni Lester by seven tenths of a second.
In fact, Crawford placed in nearly every round, of every one of her four events (including the All Around barrel race), throughout the weekend, earning nearly $9,000.
She clinched the 18th World championship with season earnings of $12,058, more than $3,000 ahead of her team roping partner Chace.
Chace had no reason to be blue, however, as she picked up her fifth and sixth career WPRA World titles in 2018. The Cherokee, Oklahoma cowgirl won titles in the breakaway roping and tie down roping after finishing third in the WPRA World Finals average in both events.
Chace won $28,953 in 2018 in the breakaway roping, more than $10,000 ahead of Crawford who ended as the Reserve Champ.
For as wide as her lead was in the breakaway, it was every bit as tight in the tie down roping. In fact, Chace held off fellow WPRA World Champion Tie Down Roper Kari Nixon for the year end title by just $85.40 after Nixon won second in the average in Waco.
The team roping championship race was far less dramatic. The titles were decided before a single steer was roped in Waco. Lari Dee Guy earned her second world championship as a header after a phenomenal season—she earned $32,653 spinning steers in 2018.
On the back end, Arkansas cowgirl Whitney DeSalvo earned the repeat with her own spectacular season. DeSalvo earned $30,077 for the year.
Thanks to the WPRA’s new partnership with RFD-TV’s The American, the WPRA World Finals breakaway roping was a qualifier for the Semi-Finals to the huge, million dollar rodeo to be held March 2-3, 2019. Loni Lester capitalized on the side pot opportunity and earned a spot into the Semi-Finals alongside DeSalvo, who was second in the side pot carry over.
Young cowgirls have a big piece of the WPRA history in the last seventy years from the youngest world champion in history, Ann Lewis who won posthumously in 1968, to a teenaged Charmayne James, who stormed into the record books with her first of eleven titles at age 14.
Since the ranks of professional rodeo were closed to competitors under 18 some decades ago, the WPRA instituted the WPRA Juniors program in 2007 to reward the future of the sport and offer a World title to up-and-coming stars.
Texas cowgirl Patton Ann Lynch captured the 2018 WPRA Junior World Championship. Lynch captured her first world title finishing fourth in the average at the WPRA World Finals aboard her horse Firen To Be A Hero.
On the equine side of the partnership, the young horses of the sport were honored in the WPRA Futurity and Derby Divisions. The Futurity is open to all horses five years old and younger who are participating in their first year of competition. The Derby is for those in their second and third years of competition.
The Futurity World title went to South Dakota in the trailer of Hilary Van Gerpen. Van Gerpen won the title aboard PC Judge CashNLace. The five year old filly is by the now-deceased PESI stallion Judge Cash and out of PC Driftin Lace. PC Judge CashNLace earned 540 points in 2018 to clinch the championship.
2018 WPRA World Finals average champion KB Angel ta Fame and her WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer jockey Kay Blandford finished third in the year end standings. KB Angel ta Fame is out of Blandford’s World Champion mare, Talents Dark Angel.
Van Gerpen also took home the 2D year end title in the Futurity with PC A Gallant Judge, also by Judge Cash. PC A Gallant Judge’s dam is PC Gallant Oaks. The five year old gelding earned 145 points in the 2D at WPRA futurity events this year.
The Derby Championship was collected by Whatcha Lookn At ridden by Kalie Anderson of Carrington, North Dakota. The seven year old mare is by Hasta Be Fast and out of I Love Crafty. She earned 195 points at WPRA sanctioned derbies.
Although the WPRA World Championship in barrel racing won’t be determined until December, the WPRA World Finals Card Holder Race is one of the most exciting and toughest races of the year. The added money of $15,000 draws large contestant numbers along with the promise that all monies won count towards 2019 WPRA World standings and that the top two in the average are given positions at the 2019 RodeoHouston.
Former WPRA Rookie of the Year Jackie Ganter capitalized on the opportunity to jumpstart the new season by clinching the average title and stuffing $8,510 in her Wranglers. Ganter rode her latest superstar mount, Howes a Tycoon.
The Reserve title went to Carly Taylor and her mare Diva Deniro. Taylor also punched her ticket to RodeoHouston. Over the last three years the winner of the card holder race has qualified for the Wrangler NFR the following year and Ganter is hoping to keep that streak alive.
In the Permit Finals, Nisa Berry rode her Derby horse VF Look Im Back to win dual average titles. In the Permit only race, she claimed the three head average with a time of 45.024 while her two head Derby time of 30.013 won the championship.
For complete WPRA World Finals Results, visit www.wpra.com.
WPRA World Champions
All Around: Jackie Crawford
Tie Down and Breakaway Roping: Kelsie Chace
Team Roping, Heading: Lari Dee Guy
Team Roping Heeling: Whitney DeSalvo
Juniors: Patton Ann Lynch
Futurity: PC Judge CashNLace, Hilary Van Gerpen
Futurity 2D: PC A Gallant Judge, Hilary Van Gerpen
Derby: Whatcha Lookn At, Kalie Anderson
WPRA World Finals Average Champions
Cardholders Race: Jackie Ganter, Howes a Tycoon, 44.66 on three runs
Permit Members Race: Nisa Berry, VF Look Im Back, 45.024 on three runs
Juniors: Paige Jones, High Cotton Lane, 30.014 on two runs
Gold Card Holders Side Pot: Debbie Bloxom, Shake the Flame
Derby: Nisa Berry, VF Look Im Back, 30.013 on two runs
Futurity: Kay Blandford, KB Angel ta Fame, 29.777 on two runs
Team Roping: Jackie Crawford and Jessica Remsburg, 27.5 on four head
Tie Down Roping: Jackie Crawford, 49.9 on four head
Breakaway: Loni Lester, 9.7 on four head