By Jolee Jordan
Denver, Colorado — A year ago, the first WPRA barrel racer to compete during the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo (NWSS) held at the historic Denver Coliseum was New Mexico's Meghan Johnson. Johnson's time on opening day would hold up through 108 cowgirls who gave chase and she would go on to win the NWSS title on Championship Sunday following three go rounds of competition.
Texas barrel racer Shelby Herrmann chased Johnson a year ago aboard her tough gelding Doc, even winning the short go. She would finish as the Reserve Champ in Denver and pocket better than $11,000, a huge boost in a season where she landed in the top 25 of the WPRA World standings.
As the busy 2016 stock show season begins, Herrmann found her name in the first position in the first performance of the 110th National Western held during a matinee performance on Friday, January 15. Just as her fellow College National Finalist Johnson did in 2015, Herrmann took command of the scoreboard, setting a hot pace for the remaining barrel racers to follow.
Riding a new stick this season, Herrmann piloted her gelding Tees Cee Dees, aka TC, to the top of the leaderboard with a quick run of 15.30 seconds. The 12 year old son of Bully Bullion out of Erin to Win has been in Herrmann's stables since the Reno Rodeo in June of 2015.
Running again in the Friday night performance, Herrmann and TC again dominated the competition, posting a 15.35 second effort to take a huge lead for the championship in Denver during the National Western's 85th annual rodeo.
The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo takes 108 WPRA barrel racers, gathered from WPRA national standings, WPRA Tour standings and WPRA/PRCA Mountain States standings. Each contestant gets two full rounds of competition held during back-to-back performances. The top 12 on two runs will return on Sunday, January 24 for the short round.
During the second set of WPRA barrel racers held during a morning and matinee on Saturday, January 16, Dena Kirkpatrick led the way in the early performance, tying Herrmann's phenomenal run of 15.30 seconds. Kirkpatrick rides Kates Always First, the 11 year old mare who has been with Kirkpatrick throughout her career and carried her to a big with at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo in 2015.
In the matinee, it was Prairie Circuit Champion Kim Couch with the fast time. Riding Easy French Alibi, Couch posted a 15.38 second run, good enough for second in the second go round. Her two-run total of 30.95 was also good enough for second, three tenths behind Herrmann.
The leaderboard wasn't challenged in the third set, held during Saturday night's perf and Sunday's matinee. Jaime Hinton, the California cowgirl recently transplanted to Texas, rode OJS Tex Wood, aka The Goob, to a 15.71 in the first go, good enough for 8th in the first round while Kelly Bruner took top honors in the Sunday performance with a 15.72 second effort.
There are 72 WPRA barrel racers yet to run beginning Sunday evening with the 2015 WPRA Reserve World Champion Lisa Lockhart and 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo cowgirl Vickie Carter among the scheduled competitors.
Tuesday, January 19th is Military Night at the National Western and the group of barrel racers includes Wrangler NFR cowgirl Michele McLeod and daughter Katelyn as well as top 20 cowgirl Kimmie Wall. The Wednesday, January 20th set includes Wrangler NFR cowgirls Jana Bean, Trula Churchill, and Benette Little along with WPRA World Champ Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi.
For more information on the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, visit them on-line at www.nationalwestern.com and for continuing results, stay tuned to www.wpra.com.
1/2. Shelby Herrmann, Tees Cee Dees, 15.30
1/2. Dena Kirkpatrick, Kates Always First, 15.30
3. Ivy Conrado, 15.35
4. Carlee Pierce, 15.52
5. Kim Couch, Easy French Alibi, 15.57
6. Lisa Lockhart, 15.59
7. Megan Mariluch, Mr. JB FireFame,15.65
8. Mary Walker, Perculatin, 15.68
Kali Parker, 15.68
Lisa Thornton, 15.67
Rachel Dice, Tivitosatthegogobar, 15.72
Kelly Bruner, 15.72
Darby Fox, 31.65
Emily Cary, 31.71
Paige Conrado, 31.74
Lisa Mirabito, 31.99
Kim Schulze, 32.00
Fonda Galbreath, 32.32