NFR 2023 Story

NFR 2023 Story

Hillman Brought the Heat on Night No. 2 at the Wrangler NFR

By Ann Bleiker

Photos by Kenneth Springer

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The WPRA barrel racers put on a show during the second round of the 2023 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Teton Ridge. From top to bottom it was a race to the finish and eight-time NFR qualifier Stevi Hillman took the victory lap on Saturday night.

Stevi Hillman
Photo by Kenneth Springer

Hillman was aboard Sand in My Socks “Sandi” and they stopped the clock in 13.62 seconds narrowly edging NFR rookie Summer Kosel with a 13.63-second run. Hillman of Granbury, Texas was 10th out on the ground which seemed to suit the duo just fine.

            “That round was really tough, and I didn’t leg lift last night and it cost me some money,” stated Hillman of Granbury, Texas. “Tonight, I just focused on riding square and that mare took care of me.

            “It is just so fun to run with that kind of competition and I am grateful to be here (in the winner’s circle.”

Stevi Hillman
Photo by Kenneth Springer

Hillman added $30,706 to her bank account and is currently ninth in the world. This is the second year Sandi has run down the alleyway at the Thomas and Mack and the experience is paying off.

            “A whole year having her on the road with me and just getting to know her more I feel like she has grown up a little more on the ground and overall,” said Hillman. “We have bonded more, and we know more about each other. Very blessed to be bringing the same horse here this year.”

Summer Kosel
Photo by Kenneth Springer

Kosel picked up her first NFR check worth $24,268 and she also brought the style with her silver pants as she is also in contention for the 2023 Jerry Ann Taylor Best Dressed Award presented by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

            Randy Spraggins is handling the dirt at the Thomas and Mack and this year he won the WPRA Outstanding Individual Award. His knowledge of dirt was on full display tonight with the Top 15 horses bringing the heat and clocking top to bottom on the ground.

            “The ground was tight and good. All the horses from what I could see and hear handled it great and it was just really fun,” said Hillman.

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi
Photo by Kenneth Springer

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi is the one all the ladies are chasing, and she had another solid time near the bottom of the ground. The Lampasas, Texas, cowgirl stopped the clock in a time of 13.71 seconds to finish in a tie for fifth. She now leads the average race with a total time of 27.46 seconds on two runs. She leads the world with $311,269 and definitely has her eyes set on not only a third gold buckle but also the highest single-year earnings record. That is currently held by reigning world champion Hailey Kinsel who set that record in 2018 with $350,700.

            Pozzi Tonozzi also has a chance to become just the fourth WPRA cowgirl in the 75-year history of the WPRA to win over $1 million in NFR earnings alone. She is only $30,441 away from doing that so a win in the third round will push her into more rare air in the barrel racing world.

            Third round action gets underway, Sunday, December 10 at 5:45 p.m. PT LIVE on the Cowboy Channel.


Rd. 2 results: 1. Stevi Hillman, Granbury, Texas, 13.62 seconds, $30,706; 2. Summer Kosel, Glenham, S.D., 13.63, $24,268; 3. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD, 13.67, $18,325; 4. Emily Beisel, 13.70, $12,877; 5. (tie) Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, Texas and Jessica Routier, Buffalo, SD, 13.71, $6,438.

Average leaders: 1. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Lampasas, Texas, 27.46 seconds on two runs; 2. Kassie Mowry, 27.64; 3. (tie) Jessica Routier and Paige Jones, 27.76; 5. Lisa Lockhart, 27.83; 6. Jordon Briggs, 27.86.

431 South Cascade
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

(719) 447-4627
(719) 447-4631 (fax)

431 South Cascade
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

(719) 447-4627   |   (719) 447-4631 (fax)


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