Cheyenne, Wyoming—There are just a handful of rodeos on the pro rodeo schedule every year that take competitors back in time with their tremendous history and tradition. The Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo definitely makes that short list with 120 years of rodeo under its belt as the 2016 edition of the “Daddy of ‘Em All” kicked off on July 23.
With the heart of the Old West still beating in every corner of town, Frontier Days is a huge event in southern Wyoming, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic impact and bringing thousands of fans of the Western lifestyle to town from every corner of the globe.
The economic impact in the wallets of WPRA and PRCA competitors is quite significant as well. Frontier Days has a total purse of nearly $1 million, making it one of the top five rodeos in the country. Each event has $50,000 in added prize money.
In 2015, South Dakota barrel racer Lisa Lockhart capped an incredible July run with a four tenth of a second win over Sherry Cervi at Cheyenne, a win that put more than $18,000 in Lockhart’s Wranglers.
So far in 2016, it’s the same story, different year.
With three performances in the books, Lockhart is once again in the lead in Cheyenne. Lockhart has already won more than $55,000 this July, including a fifth place check from the opening round of Frontier Days last Tuesday.
Cheyenne takes unlimited entries to the first go round, held during slack on Tuesday, July 19 prior to the first performance. Out of 186 entries, the fastest 96 made the cut to return for a second round during one of the eight performances prior to the short go round on Sunday, July 31.
New Mexico cowgirl Sydni Blanchard took the opening round win with a run of 17.46 seconds while Lockhart posted a 17.71.
Running on Monday afternoon, Lockhart and her great buckskin partner Louie raced around the pattern inside the gigantic Frontier Park Arena in a nearly identical time of 17.72 seconds.
Her two-head average of 35.43 is nearly two-tenths ahead of the field at this point. Only the top 12 on two runs will make a return trip to Cheyenne for the finals on Sunday.
In the opening performance on Saturday, July 23, Wickenburg, Ariz., cowgirl Sharon Harrell took the top time with her run of 17.66 seconds. Harrell and her 10-year-old gelding Jet probably won’t come back on Sunday but may get out of Cheyenne with some cash in hand from the second round.
On Sunday, the red hot Kelly Kennedy-Joseph took the victory lap with a run of 17.60 seconds. Kennedy-Joseph comes from Berthoud, Colo., and is currently ninth in the Mountain States Circuit standings. A round win is worth more than $6,000 here and would move the cowgirl way up the ladder should the time hold through Saturday.
On Monday, Lockhart actually ran the third fastest time of the performance following behind Sarah Rose McDonald’s 17.64 and Jeni Cerise’s 17.66. McDonald moved to fourth in the average standings as the 2014 WPRA Rookie of the Year seeks her second trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR). Meanwhile, Cerise, another Mountain States Circuit cowgirl, and her horse Tee moved to seventh.
There are still five performances—sixty cowgirls—left before the short round positions are decided for Sunday. On Tuesday, WNFR cowgirls Jana Bean, Jackie Ganter and Nikki (Steffes) Hansen will compete while Wednesday will bring Kelly Yates, a former Frontier Days Champ, and Kristi Steffes, Hansen’s sister who is fresh off a win at the College National Finals Rodeo last month in Casper. WNFR cowgirls Shali Lord and Christine Laughlin will be back in Cheyenne as well.
The WPRA’s $3 million cowgirl Sherry Cervi will also run on Wednesday as she battles for a record-tying 19th qualification to the WNFR; she is 13th in the current WPRA World standings.
On Thursday, all eyes will be on Tillar Murray, who won second in the first round here. Ivy Conrado, who is ranked third, will also compete Thursday with former WNFR qualifier Rachel Myllymaki and Jill Welsh, who horse Custer is the reigning WPRA/AQHA Horse of the Year.
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- Sydni Blanchard, Famous Heartbreaker, 17.46, $6,212
- Tillar Murray, 17.56, $5,324
- Mary Burger, Sadiesfamouslastwords, 17.69, $4,437
- Mary Walker, Perculatin, 17.70, $3,845
- Lisa Lockhart, An Okie with Cash, 17.71, $2,662
- Kelly Tovar, BB French Fooledya, 17.71, $2,662
- Jana Griemsman, Chase It With Brandy, 17.73, $1,775
- Kelly Yates, 17.74, $1,183
- Jane Melby, Brookstone Jo, 17.78, $739
- Megan Swint, Bar Bee Stealing Sue, 17.78, $739
2nd Go (In Progress)
- Kelly Kennedy-Joseph, Dashers Hot Panajet, 17.60
- Sarah Rose McDonald, Fame Fling N Bling, 17.64
- Jeni Cerise, Kelly Chache Tee, 17.66
- Sharon Harrell, Bug Jet Can Dance, 17.66
- Molly Childers, Just My Choice, 17.72
- Lockhart, 17.72
- Cayla Melby, Shameon U, 17.75
- Kayla Jones, KG Jet O A Go Go, 17.78
- Jane Melby, Brookstone Jo, 17.89
- Brittany Pozzi-Tonozzi, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 17.99
Average (In Progress)
- Lockhart, 35.43
- Cayla Melby, 35.61
- Kennedy-Joseph, 35.61
- McDonald, 35.62
- Jane Melby, 35.67
- Jones, 35.86
- Cerise, 36.08
- Pozzi-Tonozzi, 36.14
- Tisa Kraft-Peek, 36.20
- Kaylee Burnett, 36.22
- Harrell, 36.24
- Childers, 36.30