By Jolee Jordan
Denver, Colorado—Kellie Collier had never competed inside the historic Denver Coliseum prior to January 2017 but chances are she is already making plans to return in 2018.
Collier traveled from her home in Hereford, Texas to the Capital City to compete in the unsanctioned Colorado vs. the World tournament event which kicked off the 2017 edition of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo (NWSS), a tradition more than one hundred years in the making.
Her first attempt in the Coliseum was worth $10,000. She returned a few days later to compete for WPRA World Championship points during the PRCA/WPRA rodeo, one of pro rodeo’s most lucrative events with a committee purse of $35,250, hoping for similar results in her pursuit of a first trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) in 2017.
“I had never been here at all,” said Collier, who has earned a couple of associate’s degrees in her pursuit of eventually earning a degree in advertising. She has decided to take some time off from school. “Since I have Lolo, I decided to go this year.”
The NWSS allows 120 WPRA barrel racers a chance to compete, dividing them evenly into groups of 12 with two runs apiece. The fastest twelve on the two runs advance to the Championship Finals held on January 22, 2017.
Collier competed on Wednesday night and Thursday morning (Jan. 18-19) for her two preliminary runs and she carried a lot of confidence into the sometimes tricky pattern for the NWSS which is tipped within the arena to square up with the corner gate, allowing competitors to enter and exit on the run.
“It is a little tricky but I got to run at the Colorado vs. the World and Lolo got a feel for it so that helped a lot,” notes Collier. Her main mount Lolo is registered Streakin Easy April, a nine year old daughter of PESI stallion A Streak of Fling. Lolo came to Collier from Carlee Pierce, who ran the mare in her last appearance at the WNFR.
The pair’s first run was smooth at 15.49 seconds which landed her in the final money hole for the first go round. California circuit cowgirl Katie Pascoe won the opening go round aboard her good horse Naughty. Her time of 15.22 seconds was worth $3,556.
“For my first go my mind set was to make a clean run,” she noted, adding that she ran on the bottom of the ground for her first run. “She did great.”
Returning the following morning for round two with the first spot on the ground, Lolo and Collier stepped it up considerably. Their time of 15.23 seconds went to the top of the leaderboard for both the round and the average.
“I was excited for our second round on top of the ground, I thought she would get faster,” she says. “She worked her butt off.”
Coming into the short round, Collier held a slim lead over Idaho cowgirl Kali Parker but she was battling a little bit of nerves.
“I was more nervous than normal [in the short go],” she laughs. “I almost hit the third barrel but she took care of me.”
In fact, Collier and Lolo posted the fastest run of the rodeo at 15.20 seconds to win the short go and run away with the NWSS title. Her three-run total of 45.92 seconds clinched the title by more than three tenths over WPRA World leader Tiany Schuster and Hailey Kinsel. The Texas cowgirls tied for second at 46.31 seconds.
When the calculators stopped, Collier had pocketed $11,694 in official earnings along with the $10,000 from the unsanctioned event, allowing her to leave town with more than $21,000 in her Wranglers.
“I have to give all the credit to her [Lolo],” says Collier, who thanked her sponsors CSI Saddle Pads, MVP Supplements, BioMane and Top of Texas, a company her family owns. In fact, both her mom, Kathleen, and dad, Matt, were able to be present to watch their daughter’s first major rodeo win.
“Paxton Segelke and my mom have been with me all week, since Tuesday, and my dad and my boyfriend (Kamryn Boucher) flew in for the short go,” Collier says.
The celebration party was delayed while the group headed south to Pueblo to spend the night before going on to Texas for rodeos in Fort Worth and San Angelo. Lolo will get a few days rest at home.
“Last year, Fort Worth was really good to us and it was one of our first big ones [to do well]. We didn’t get into Denver last year so this is big,” she says.
Collier couldn’t say enough good things about her equine partner inside the arena.
“She makes my job easy,” she notes of Lolo. “She’s quirky; when I first got her, she was not very trusting. I had to earn it and it took a year. She’s really a loving and sweet horse if she trusts you.”
“She’s amazing and we have a special bond.”
For more updates, stay tuned to wpra.com and for more information on the National Western, visit them on-line at nationalwestern.com.
1. Katie Pascoe, JR Naughty Jet, 15.22, $3,556
2. Jordan Moore, CCR Ring of Fire, 15.31, $3,048
3. Kelly Yates, Fiestanozshezfamous, 15.35, $2,540
4. tie Cayla Small, Shameon U, 15.38, $1,947
Dena Kirkpatrick, Kates Always First, 15.38, $1,947
6. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 15.41, $1,355
7. Tammy Fischer, LK Sheza Hayday, 15.45, $1,016
8. Kali Parker, Tuneful, 15.46, $677
9. Amy Jo Farella, Streakin Jet Remedy, 15.48, $508
10. tie Sidney Forrest, So Epic, 15.49, $169
Kellie Collier, Streakin Easy April, 15.49, $169
1. Collier, 15.23, $3,556
2. tie Parker, 15.34, $2,794
Carley Richardson, Lotta Bunny Shades, 15.34, $2,794
4 tie Kathy Grimes, KG JusticeWeExpected, 15.41, $1,947
Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, 15.41, $1,947
6. Kara Posch, Six Bugs Runnin, 15.44, $1,355
7. Kinsel, 15.46, $847
CJ Vondette, Meradas Dual Stich, 15.46, $847
9. Jessie Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 15.48, $423
Taylor Langdon Vegas Firefighter, 15.48, $423
1. Collier, 15.20, $2,634
2. Schuster, 15.28, $1,976
3. Yates, 15.30, $1,317
4. Small, 15.40, $659
1. Collier, 45.92, $5,334
2. tie Schuster, 46.31, $4,191
Kinsel, 46.31, $4,191
4. Parker, 46.32, $3,302
5. Yates, 46.36, $2,540
6. Richardson, 46.51, $2,032
7. Small, 46.53, $1,524
8. Rose, 46.59, $1,016
9. Fischer, 46.73, $762
10. Forrest, 46.78, $508