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This time, Kailee Webb and her horse “Flying for Perks” were up to the task.
Not having to wait so long to make her second barrel racing turn, Webb was nearly perfect on her second run during Tuesday’s slack at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) at the Casper Events Center.
Webb, this past season’s regional barrel racing champion, attacked the cloverleaf pattern with a purpose, charging at the first barrel just as hard as the opening round the day before. But, this time, “Perks” was much better, circling the barrel tighter and not overshooting. The pair was nearly flawless as the Isabel, S.D., sophomore stopped the clock in an impressive 14.05 seconds, good enough to place third in the second round of the CNFR competition.
Her two-run total is 29.3 seconds, putting her 15th in the average. Just the top 12 individuals in each event move on to Saturday’s short go. And, with one more run to go, Webb is in great shape, University of Wyoming Coach George Howard said.
“She’s in a good position right now,” he said. “One more good run Friday and she will move into the top four or five.”
Webb’s performance helped boost the Cowgirls in the team standings. UW is 13th with 62 team points, compared to leader Blue Mountain Community College’s (Pendleton, Ore.) 260 points. Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) champion Gillette College currently is second with 235 points.
The UW men, with 80 points, are tied for 20th place with four other teams. Feather River College (Quincy, Calif.) is running away with the team title with 465 points, while runner-up Southern Arkansas University (Magnolia, Ark.) has 230.
UW and Casper College, tied with the Cowboys in the standings, are the highest placing teams among the CRMR clubs.
Competitors flip-flop in order from the opening slack round to the second day, meaning that Webb was the 11th barrel racer up Tuesday morning, and not one of the last riders as compared to Monday morning. Having the chance to compete right away may have been a factor for Webb, who wanted to make amends right away.
Barrel racing is the first event during slack beginning at 7 a.m., meaning that Webb was up at 3 a.m. to get “Perks” ready for his early morning run.
“He worked better for me, but I expected him to be. He was more familiar with the arena the second time through, and more comfortable,” Webb said.
Howard noticed that as well.
“She rode her horse a lot better on her second run. She was not so flustered this time around and, when she got her horse around the corner, she just let him loose, and he smoked it,” he said. “It was a picture-perfect run.”
All seven UW qualifiers have now completed two rounds of competition. Each will be among the contestants competing in one of the four nightly performances and, possibly, Saturday’s championship round.
Webb’s last chance to qualify for the short go comes Friday night. The long wait can work or be a disadvantage, Webb said.
“It will be a long wait, but a good one for us. My horse needs the rest, and we get to hang out,” Webb said, adding that she is not dwelling too much on qualifying for the short go. “I try not to look too much into it. I’ll just go out there for another good run and see what happens.”
Three of Webb’s teammates also finished up their goat tying competition late Tuesday morning.
Amelia Anderson, a sophomore from Forsythe, Mont., had the best showing among her Cowgirl goat tying teammates, posting a 6.5 second time to split eighth place with four other competitors. But her opening round time of 9.9 seconds may keep her from qualifying for the short go; she has a two-round time of 16.4 seconds.
After two runs, Josee Vogel, of Pavillion, has the best shot among her two teammates of qualifying for the short go. She remained in contention with a time of 6.7 seconds on her second run, splitting 15th place. Vogel is 18th overall in the average.
“If she can get a short six time on her last run, it might be enough to help her” reach the short go, Howard said.
Freshman Karlee Peterson, of Sturgis, S.D., hurt her chances when she stumbled and tripped on her way to an 8.9 second time. Her first day time of 7.5 seconds left her with an overall time of 16.4 on two runs.
Both UW men’s team members put themselves out of contention with a pair of missed opportunities.
Bareback rider Jaden Clark, a Wellfleet, Neb., junior, marked out, leaving him with a no-score on his second ride. A rider must have his heels up on the horse’s shoulders coming out of the chute, but Clark missed out on the right side. Earlier in the week, he split eighth place.
And Purdum, Neb., senior steer wrestler Dillon Simonson missed the inside horn on his second run for a no-time. He posted a 7.1 second time in the opening round.
The seventh UW qualifier, bull rider Jacob Smith, of LaSalle, Colo., does not compete again until Friday. He placed second in the opening round Sunday and was tossed on his second bull Monday morning. No rider has covered two bulls, leaving Smith in good shape.
No UW team member competed in Tuesday night’s performance. Clark and Vogel are scheduled to compete Wednesday night.