Photos by Kenneth Springer
At this time last year, Mary Walker hobbled to her seat in the Thomas & Mack Center on a crutch. She was rehabbing from a string of major injuries sustained when Perculatin fell on her at a Crosby, Texas barrel race in June 2011. She was putting one foot in front of the other, learning to live without her son, Reagon, whose life was tragically taken in an automobile accident in April of the same year.
In a year and a half, the Ennis, Texas cowgirl went from wheelchair to Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion barrel racer, and while Reagon wasn’t here in the flesh, he was by no means absent from the Thomas & Mack Arena.
“I want to thank my son, Reagon,” said a tearful Walker. “A lot of emotions are going on, especially yesterday. I really was upset with the fact that Reagon wasn’t here with me to celebrate, but I know he is in spirit.”
With angel wings aboard, Perculatin, fondly referred to as “Latte,” carried Walker to a new WPRA Wrangler National Finals Rodeo earnings record of $146,941.10. The 2012 AQHA/WPRA Barrel Horse of the Year also helped Walker clinch the Ram Truck Top Gun Award for the highest earnings in a single event at the NFR, and he paraded the Jerry Ann Taylor Best Dressed Cowgirl around the cloverleaf for 10 nights under the bright lights of Vegas.
Earning the coveted title of Wrangler NFR average champion, Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore., was the only cowgirl to leave all 30 barrels standing over the course of 10 go rounds, and was awarded $46,820.91 for her flawless patterns on the ever-consistent Judge Buy Cash (“Jethro”). Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas, won tonight’s round in 13.57 seconds on her arena-record holding horse, Rare Dillion (“Dillion”). In doing so, she edged out Brittany Pozzi for WPRA Reserve World Champion barrel racing honors. The newest Million Dollar Cowgirl, Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D., finished second in tonight’s round with a time of 13.76 seconds on An Oakie With Cash (“Louie”).
A string of NFR first-timers rounded out the top six, finishing their inaugural NFR run on a high. 2011 WPRA Rookie of the Year Lee Ann Rust, Stephenville, Texas, finished third with her personal best NFR time of 13.87 on her beloved SS Streakers R Us (“Harley”) – on her 55th birthday, no less. Her total NFR earnings of $42,256.61 was just icing on the cake. Round five winner, Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla., and Wonders Cowboy Dan were fourth with a 13.96, followed by Nikki Steffes, Vale, S.D. on Tell Em Belle with a 13.97. Walker and Latte were sixth with a 14.01.
The 2012 Wrangler NFR barrel racing was indeed one for record books. Don’t miss the February issue of Barrel Horse News to read in-depth coverage of all the great stories that have come out of the 2012 Wrangler NFR.
Barrel Racing Results – 10th Go Round:
1. Carlee Pierce 13.57 $18,257.21
2. Lisa Lockhart 13.76 $14,429.09
3. Lee Ann Rust 13.87 $10,895.43
4. Kaley Bass 13.96 $7,656.25
5. Nikki Steffes 13.97 $4,711.54
6. Mary Walker 14.01 $2,944.71
Wrangler NFR Barrel Racing Average Standings:
(Through 10th Go Round)
1. Brenda Mays, Terrebonne, Ore. 141.79/10 (no change*)$46,820.91
2. Mary Walker, Ennis, Texas 143.52/10 (no change)$37,986.78
3. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, S.D. 143.96/10 (no change)$30,036.06
4. Kaley Bass, Kissimmee, Fla. 144.69/10 (no change)$22,085.34
5. Nikki Steffes, Vale, S.D. 147.19/10 (no change)$15,901.44
6. Christina Richman, Glendora, Calif. 156.32/10 (no change)$11,484.38
7. Christy Loflin, Franktown, Colo. 158.41/10 (+1) $7,950.72
8. Lindsay Sears, Nanton, Alberta 158.97/10 (+1) $4,417.07
9. Benette Barrington-Little, Ardmore, Okla. 160.45/10 (+1)
10. Trula Churchill, Valentine, Neb. 161.46/10 (-3)
11. Lee Ann Rust, Stephenville, Texas 164.59/10 (no change)
12. Brittany Pozzi, Victoria, Texas 170.32/10 (no change)
13. Kelli Tolbert, Hooper, Utah 178.56/10 (no change)
14. Carlee Pierce, Stephenville, Texas 178.92/10 (no change)
15. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz. 135.78/9 (no change)
*Indicates shift in average placing from previous round.
WPRA World Championship Standings:
(Through 10th Go Round)
1. Mary Walker (G) Ennis, Texas $274,233.28
2. Carlee Pierce Stephenville, Texas $204,321.83
3. Brittany Pozzi Victoria, Texas $194,224.22
4. Lindsay Sears Nanton, Alberta $190,061.63
5. Lisa Lockhart Oelrichs, South Dakota $180,335.91
6. Kaley Bass Kissimmee, Florida $154,304.56
7. Brenda Mays Terrebonne, Oregon $137,748.48
8. Sherry Cervi Marana, Arizona $130,263.05
9. Nikki Steffes Vale, South Dakota $110,279.25
10. Kelli Tolbert Hooper, Utah $109,324.15
11. Lee Ann Rust Stephenville, Texas $103,843.82
12. Benette Barrington-Little Ardmore, Oklahoma $92,638.43
13. Trula Churchill Valentine, Nebraska $84,629.46
14. Christy Loflin Franktown, Colorado $75,301.16
15. Christina Richman Glendora, California $73,697.71