By Jolee Jordan
Houston, Texas — She wore green for money and she got it. Just like she’s been doing since she was a teenager.
Already the WPRA’s biggest superstar, Sherry Cervi only added to her legend on Wednesday night, March 9, during the final round of Super Series III of the 2016 edition of RodeoHouston.
When Cervi passed through the electric eyes inside NRG Stadium, she was passing herself in the history books.
Cervi came to Houston in 2016 just $7,234 away from becoming the WPRA’s first $3 million cowgirl. She wasted no time in erasing that deficit and it was the perfect setting for her incredible milestone. After winning the first two rounds collecting $6,000 total, she needed to place first or second in the final round of Super Series III, so she decided to turn in her fastest time thus far of 14.29 seconds to win the round for another $3,000.
"It is unbelievable and the fact I did it here in Houston is awesome," said an emotional Cervi about crossing the $3 million mark in career earnings moments after winning the third round of Super Series III. "It couldn't have been at a better place and I'm so happy it was on Stingray. I definitely wouldn't be here without her and all the great horses I have ridden in the past. Fortunately, Stingray loves Houston!"
Cervi was just 19-years old when she collected her first RodeoHouston title in 1995, also the first year she laid claim to the moniker WPRA World Champion. She added back-to-back titles in Houston in 2000-2001.
Though RodeoHouston made the switch from the Astrodome to Reliant Center (now NRG Stadium), from a two-go and short round format to today’s tournament style rodeo, and Cervi traded from Troubles to Hawk to Stingray, Cervi has just kept winning in Houston for two decades. She won both the RodeoHouston title and WPRA World titles again in 2010, setting a record at the time for earnings at a regular season rodeo and becoming the first WPRA barrel racer to win this rodeo on three different horses.
The WPRA’s biggest payday for years, Cervi’s dominance in Houston is a big part of the huge tracks she has made in career earnings, winning nearly $120,000 at Houston in just her four championship years alone.
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Now, just six years after she passed $2 million in earnings, she has lapped $3 million. No other lady in WPRA history has gotten to $2 million and just six have won $1 million.
So although it has been a slow winter for the WPRA’s four-time World Champ (she is 65th prior to RodeoHouston), there was little doubt what Cervi could accomplish in Houston.
Back aboard Stingray, registered MP Meter My Hay, for the first time since the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), she dominated her Super Series, winning first in all three go rounds to max her earnings at $9,000 and put the suspense of when she’d hit $3 million to bed early.
Cervi posted times of 14.53, 14.38 and 14.29 seconds on her rout of the set. She easily advances to the Semi-Finals again, giving herself a shot at a fifth title at RodeoHouston and putting her on the road to $4 million.
RodeoHouston is a tournament style event with the 40 invited competitors divided into brackets or Super Series of eight contestants each. At the conclusion of each Super Series, the top four money winners move on to the Semi-Finals.
Once in the Semi-Finals, all advancement is based on fast times; the top four from each Semi-Finals advance to the Championship while the rest are given one more shot in the Wild Card Round. The Championship will be held March 19 with the eight semi-finalists and two Wild Card winners participating in a two-round run for $50,000.
Pam Capper had a great run at Houston as well, finishing second behind Cervi every night to earn $5,500. Capper and her mare Jesse will also advance to the Semi-Finals, continuing their hot winter following a big win at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo a couple weeks back. The pair is 11th in the current WPRA World standings.
Filling the final two spots into the semi-finals are Carmel Wright and Taylor Jacob. Wright has been solid all winter and picked up two checks in the Super Series to earn $2,500 with her mare Tweety. Meanwhile, Jacob relied upon a borrowed horse and won $1,750 to edge out 2015 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jackie Ganter for the final position to advance. Jacob was aboard Tink, registered This Firewater Rocks, owned by Pam Knight. Both Wright and Jacob are already inside the WPRA’s top 30.
Super Series IV begins March 10 and all eyes will surely be on Nancy Hunter as the three-time and reigning RodeoHouston champion. Can she make it a four in a row? She will face off against California Circuit stand out Rachel Dice, top 30 cowgirls Alexa Lake and Kimmie Wall, and WNFR cowgirls Brenda Mays, Carley Richardson, and Christina Richman.
The Super Series wrap up with Super Series V beginning on March 13. Among the scheduled competitors are 2015 RodeoHouston Finalists Lisa Lockhart and Kaley Bass, 2014 WPRA World Champion Fallon Taylor (also the 1997 RodeoHouston Champ), WPRA World No. 1 Ivy Conrado, 2015 Pikes Peak or Bust Champ Jessica Dunbar and current top 15 competitors Shelby Herrmann and Megan Swint.
Also on the docket is two-time WPRA World Champ Lindsay Sears. Sears has won two RodeoHouston titles, in 2008 and again in 2012. She is one of five former RodeoHouston Champs competing in 2016. Cervi and Mary Burger have already advanced to the Semi-Finals.
For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com and stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates.
Super Series III
1. Sherry Cervi, MP Meter My Hay, 14.53, $3,000
2. Pam Capper, Sheza Smooth Flight, 14.58, $2,000
3. Taylor Jacob, This Firewater Rocks, 14.79, $1,000
4. Jackie Ganter, Guys French Jet, 14.80, $750
1. Cervi, 14.38, $3,000
2. Capper, 14.44, $2,000
3. Carmel Wright, SweetHeart Special, 14.60, $1,000
4. Ganter, 14.77, $750
1. Cervi, 14.29, $3,000
2. Capper, 14.47, $1,500
3. Wright, 14.47, $1,500
4. Jacob, 14.50, $750
Total Money Won