photo

Nellie Miller


PHOTO COURTESY
Photo

By Jolee Jordan

NFR Déjà Vu at RodeoHouston for Miller
NFR

 

Houston, Texas—One year ago, Nellie Miller stood inside NRG Stadium accepting her first RodeoHouston Championship saddle and all the loot that goes along with winning one of pro rodeo’s most elite events.

She came to that title by the slimmest of margins, winning a dual with eventual 2018 WPRA World Champ Hailey Kinsel by just two one-hundredths of a second in the final round. That win, worth $58,750, paved the way for Miller’s third appearance at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR), qualifying with a minimal number of rodeos attended.

One year later, Miller and her outstanding mare Sister came to the final night of the 2019 RodeoHouston having slid under the radar a bit—winning third in their Super Series, the preliminary competition in the tournament style rodeo and third in her Semi-Finals to advance to the Championship Round.

But Miller contends that Sister gets better the more runs she makes in an arena—a fact that had to make her fellow competitors nervous with the fifth and possibly sixth runs looming on the final night of the rodeo. And she’d already proven her prowess on the challenging setup here in Houston. With a small pattern set inside a football field sized arena, all placed extremely close to the gate, many horses have difficulty finding the barrels, often sailing past the first corner. But Sister, the 2017 WPRA/AQHA Horse of the Year, is a master of hunting barrels.

Wild Card

Before the drama of the Championship Round can unfold, the field was completed with two entrants from the Wild Card Round. All Semi-Finalists who don’t advance as the top four runners from their Semi-Finals rounds get one final shot to move ahead in the sudden death rodeo.

The Wild Card round lived up to its name on Friday night. Jessi Fish was first to run, getting down the alley in a hurry. Riding the buckskin she calls Showoff, Fish stopped the clock in a quick 14.35, setting a high bar for the eleven cowgirls to follow.

2018 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith was the very next cowgirl, riding her palomino mare Lena. Despite a good stumble at the first, the pair was able to put 14.61 seconds on the board for second place.

With such a big gap between the two, and the stacked field of talent left to compete, it seemed likely that Smith’s spot would be bumped out of qualifying but each runner came up short as ten more ladies took their shots. Tammy Fischer came closest with her run of 14.71 seconds but in the end, both Fish and Smith moved to the next round.

Championship Round

On the final night, Nellie Miller led the field, the only past winner here to advance to the Championships. She was joined by two-time World Champ Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi along with former Wrangler NFR qualifiers Carley Cervi, Tracy Nowlin, Stevi Hillman, and Shali Lord. The line-up also included a group of ladies hoping a big night would propel them to their first Wrangler NFR trips led by Smith, the highest ranked cowgirl in the current standings at third, along with Teri Bangart, Kaylee Gallino, and Fish.

Though the money is good throughout the rodeo, the final night is where it gets real. $50,000 goes to the final round winner, while everyone who competes will get another $1,250 just for making it to the Championship. It’s two runs for the title, with the ten lady field pared to just four after the first run. The final round is sudden death again, where the biggest checks are paid.

The reigning champ drew top of the ground, kicking off the Championship Round. The homegrown and trained blue roan mare nailed all three turns, cutting off the timer in a very fast 14.29 seconds. The time ties Miller’s best during the 2019 rodeo and gave her a great chance to be among the top four to return for the Championship Shoot-Out.

Pozzi Tonozzi and her speedy left Mona were second in the draw and put up a respectable 14.50 for second.

Running third, Fish and Showoff put the pressure on, posting a smooth run of 14.53 seconds. She was bumped to fourth, however, with the next run. Bangart and her gelding Peak had been having a great RodeoHouston with more than $8,000 won; they slid into third on the final night with a time of 14.51 seconds.

Another Houston rookie who had been dominant in the preliminary rounds was Kaylee Gallino. The South Dakota cowgirl ran out of luck in the Championship, however, as she and her great horse Bob tipped a barrel on a run of 14.79 seconds.

Reigning Mountain States Circuit champ Shali Lord looks poised for another Wrangler NFR run in 2019. After earning second in San Antonio last month, Lord had a good run through Houston but it ended with a good run of 14.57, which was just four one-hundredths behind the fourth spot when she ran.

Stevi Hillman came into the final round at NRG Stadium on a high. Riding Truck, her equine partner that carried her to three Wrangler NFR appearances, Hillman had run the fastest time of the rodeo at 14.20 during her Super Series. Competing on her anniversary, Hillman was smooth and fast again, this time putting a 14.49 on the board to move into second place, bumping Fish out of the Shoot-Out.

Bangart fell out next as Carley Cervi continued her streak of Championship Shoot-Out appearances. Cervi and her super tough grey horse Radio tied Hillman up at 14.49 seconds, leaving Pozzi Tonozzi on the bubble with two more ladies yet to compete.

But after Tracy Nowlin ran out in 14.82 seconds and Jimmie Smith was 14.77 seconds, the final four was set with the two-time World Champ in fourth, just one one-hundredth behind Hillman and Cervi. The reigning champion Miller was impressive, advancing by outrunning the field by two tenths.

The rodeo rolls on, finishing the Championship Round in the bull riding before launching back to the top of the perf order for the Shoot-Out. The result is a delay of about an hour before the ladies cinched up again for one last run down the NRG Stadium alleyway.

As the Championship Round winner, Miller and Sister got to lead off again. The gritty mare threw down one more time, running strong and turning sharp. She brushed the third and it tipped but Miller never looked back instead looking up to see 14.26 seconds on the scoreboard.

Earning the big $50,000 check for the three challengers would mean knocking the defending champ out of the top spot, a big task considering the run that the pair had just laid down.

Cervi had the first shot, running in her fourth consecutive Shoot-Out in Houston and the third on Radio, the fifteen year old ageless wonder. But a tipped first can ended their hopes of claiming a first title here. Proving his consistency, Radio posted a second straight time of 14.49 but the barrel down put her to 19.49 seconds.

Hillman was next in the order, riding the comeback kid Truck, who hadn’t been to a pro rodeo since last September due to injuries. Unfortunately, the penalty blues caught up to the team in the final go round and they eased out with a total time of 26.63 seconds.

Only Pozzi Tonozzi stood in the path to a repeat title for Miller, the 2017 WPRA World Champion. Mona was smooth and solid but a bad slip on the third corner slowed their time to 15.10 seconds, good enough for the reserve championship.

“I’m just glad to be here,” the ever humble Miller told Boyd Polhamus on the arena floor minutes later. “It’s amazing . . . I can’t believe I get to come here every year and do this.”

“My horse loves it,” she said.

Miller collected $56,000 for the rodeo, a huge boost to her position in the standings. Coming in with just over $10,000 won in four rodeos, Miller moves to $66,000 won, likely moving to number one in the WPRA World standings.

“The more runs she makes, the better she runs,” Miller continued to tell the crowd in Houston. “She’d had a few days off and was feeling fresh.”

When asked about the tipped third barrel, Miller laughed, noting that often they don’t stand up for her.

“We got a little close but luckily it stayed up,” she said.

Interestingly, Miller also won RodeoHouston’s Super Shoot-Out—an unsanctioned team competition, a one-day event held with the rodeo each year—in both the last two years, adding another $50,000 in earnings from NRG Stadium to the $104,750 she has won inside WPRA-sanctioned competition.

Pozzi Tonozzi earned $28,000 during RodeoHouston. Already ranked 11th, she more than doubled her season earnings and now has more than $50,000 toward her 13th possible Wrangler NFR qualification.

Ironically, Cervi finished third for the fourth straight year at RodeoHouston. She got engaged here last year and returned as a married woman in 2019, winning $17,875 this time around, pushing her four-year total here to $67,375. She should slip inside the top 20 when the new standings arrive.

Hillman took fourth, earning $12,250 while in Houston. She has now earned more than $23,000 in 2019.

For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com.

Complete Results

Wild Card Round

Name, Horse, Time, Earnings, Total Earnings for Event

  1. Jessi Fish, Guys Night in Vegas, 14.35, $3,000, $6,750
  2. Jimmie Smith, Lena on the Rocks, 14.61, $2,000, $3,750
  3. Tammy Fischer, LK Sheza Hayday, 14.71, $1,000, $3,750
  4. Lisa Lockhart, CFour Tibbie Stinson, 14.73, $625, $6,625
  5. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 14.73, $625, $5,625
  6. Tiany Schuster, Version Six, 14.78, $500, $6,250
  7. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 14.79, $500, $4,500
  8. Carmel Wright, Fortunes Last Xtreme, 14.87, $500, $5,250
  9. Ericka Nelson, 14.92, $500, $5,250
  10. Tillar Murray, Dirty Dan Stinson, 15.04, $500, $4,500
  11. Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, 19.56, $500, $3,000
  12. Jackie Ganter, Howes A Tycoon, 26.89, $500, $2,250

*Fish and Smith advance to Championship Round

Championship Round

  1. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 14.29
  2. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 14.49
  3. Carley Cervi, Doda Flit, 14.49
  4. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 14.50
  5. Teri Bangart, RCA Three Bugs Honor, 14.51, $1,250
  6. Jessi Fish, Guys Night in Vegas, 14.53, $1,250
  7. Shali Lord, Freckles ta Fame, 14.57, $1,250
  8. Jimmie Smith, Lena on the Rocks, 14.77, $1,250
  9. Tracy Nowlin, DJG Madison, 14.82, $1,250
  10. Kaylee Gallino, JC Truly Bob, 19.79, $1,250

Championship Shoot-Out

  1. Miller, 14.26, $50,000
  2. Pozzi Tonozzi, 15.10, $20,000
  3. Cervi, 19.49, $10,000
  4. Hillman, 26.63, $5,500

Total Earnings

Nellie Miller, $56,000

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $28,000

Carley Cervi, $17,875

Stevi Hillman, $12,250

Kaylee Gallino, $10,250

Teri Bangart, $10,000

Tracy Nowlin, $8,250

Jessi Fish, $8,000

Lisa Lockhart, $6,625

Tiany Schuster, $6,250

Jessica Routier, $5,625

Shali Lord, $5,250

Carmel Wright, $5,250

Ericka Nelson, $5,250

Jimmie Smith, $5,000

Hailey Kinsel, $4,500

Tillar Murray, $4,500

Tammy Fischer, $3,750

Lacinda Rose, $3,000

Jackie Ganter, $2,250

 

NFR RodeoHouston Heads Into Final Weekend
NFR

 

Houston, Texas—It’s been nearly three weeks since the 2019 edition of RodeoHouston began and just under 48 hours remain before the big checks will be written and one lucky cowgirl will start to think about possibly making a trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) come December.

With $50,000 to the final round winner—and somewhere in the neighborhood of $80,000 the mark to be inside the top 15 for the Wrangler NFR—Saturday is a big day for the ten ladies who will compete on Houston’s final day.

Forty cowgirls started in the field here, competing in the tournament style rodeo as they’ve made their way through the rounds. Following the three runs in Super Series competition, each run becomes sudden death—run fast or go home is the theme and the level of competition steps up accordingly as each round pushes contestants that much closer to the title and the huge $50,000 payday.

 

photo

NFR
Kaylee Gallino
Photo Courtesy RodeoHouston
NFR

 

Semi-Final 1

Bob truly does love Houston. In her first trip ever to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, South Dakota cowgirl Kaylee Gallino and her aged gelding Bob are having a blast. The duo claimed the victory in their Super Series—Super Series I which opened the rodeo back on February 25-27 by earning $6,000 for a pair of round wins.

The duo waited two weeks for their next chance to run in NRG Stadium and they picked up right where they left off, winning the first Semi-Finals to advance automatically to the Championship Round on Saturday, March 16.

Turning in their fastest run yet in Houston, Gallino and Bob won the round with a time of 14.32 seconds, edging out Tracy Nowlin and Dolly Jo who stopped the clock at 14.34 seconds.

Gallino now has $9,000 in RodeoHouston earnings while Nowlin moves to the Championship Round for the second consecutive year. She has won $7,000 in four runs.

In one of the tightest rounds of RodeoHouston 2019, reigning champion Nellie Miller took third with a run of 14.42 seconds while Stevi Hillman claimed the last spot into the Championship Round with her 14.51. Hillman was last in the Championship Round here in 2017.

Former Houston champ Tammy Fischer finished in the crying hole with her run of 14.58 seconds and will take one more chance through Friday night’s Wild Card Round along with the rest of the Semi-Finalists from Wednesday night.

Semi-Final 2

After watching the second night of Semi-Finals action, the only logical conclusion is that NRG Stadium is teenager-friendly. After 15-year old Bob took first in Semi-Final 1, it was another 15 year old gelding atop the leaderboard in Semi-Final 2.

Radio has carried his rider Carley Cervi to a pair of Wrangler NFR appearances in 2015-2016 and helped her finish inside the top 20 in 2018. A big chunk of Cervi’s winnings each season have come from RodeoHouston where the pair have placed third in each of the last three seasons.

After finishing second in Super Series IV, Cervi and Radio kicked it up a notch, running their fastest run of the rodeo thus far at 14.32 seconds for the round win and an automatic invite to another Championship Round. The newlywed has now won $7,875 during her 2019 Houston run.

Two-time World Champion Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi took second place to also advance into the final round with a run of 14.44 seconds. Paired up with two wins in her Super Series, Pozzi Tonozzi has now won $8,000.

The final two money positions and qualification spots into the Championship Round went to Shali Lord and Teri Bangart. Lord rode the outstanding stallion Can Man and stopped the clock at 14.60 seconds.

Bangart came into the Semi-Finals having won more money than any other barrel racer here in Houston. She and her great horse Peak added to their total in Semi-Final 2 with a time of 14.65 seconds for fourth. She has won $8,750.

Wild Card Round

The final chance to qualify for the Championship Round happens Friday night during the Wild Card round. The field includes the WPRA World No. 1 Hailey Kinsel, along with Lisa Lockhart, Tiany Schuster, Jessica Routier, Ericka Nelson, Carmel Wright, Tillar Murray, Jessi Fish, Tammy Fischer, Lacinda Rose, Jimmie Smith, and Jackie Ganter.

For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com. Stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates from the 2019 edition.

Results (In Progress)

Semi-Final 1

  1. Kaylee Gallino, JC Truly Bob, 14.32, $3,000
  2. Tracy Nowlin, DJG Madison, 14.34, $2,000
  3. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 14.42, $1,000
  4. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 14.51, $750
  5. Tammy Fischer, LK Sheza Hayday, 14.58
  6. Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, 14.63
  7. Jimmie Smith, Lena on the Rocks, 14.64
  8. Lisa Lockhart, CF Tibbie Stinson, 14.83
  9. Tillar Murray, Dirty Dan Stinson, 15.30
  10. Tiany Schuster, A Dash of Killian, 19.89

*Gallino, Nowlin, Miller and Hillman advance to Championship Round, March 16

Semi-Finals 2

  1. Carley Cervi, Doda Flit, 14.32, $3,000
  2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 14.44, $2,000
  3. Shali Lord, Freckles ta Fame, 14.60, $1,000
  4. Teri Bangart, RCA Three Bugs Honor, 14.65, $750
  5. Jessi Fish, Guys Night in Vegas, 14.82
  6. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, 14.85
  7. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 14.95
  8. Ericka Nelson, Goodfrenchmanfriday, 14.96
  9. Jackie Ganter, Howes a Tycoon, 19.42
  10. Carmel Wright, Fortunes Last Xtreme, 19.57

*Cervi, Pozzi Tonozzi, Lord and Bangart advance to Championship Round, March 16

Wild Card Round, Friday, March 15

Lisa Lockhart, SSIV, $6,000

Tiany Schuster, SSII, $5,750

Jessica Routier, SSI, $5,000

Ericka Nelson, SSII, $4,750

Carmel Wright, SSII, $4,750

Hailey Kinsel, SSIV, $4,000

Tillar Murray, SSIII, $4,000

Jessi Fish, SSIII, $3,750

Tammy Fischer, SSIV, $2,750

Lacinda Rose, SSI, $2,500

Jimmie Smith, SSIII, $1,750

Jackie Ganter, SSV, $1,750

Championship Round, Saturday, March 16

Kaylee Gallino, SSI, $9,000

Teri Bangart, SSIII, $8,750

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, SSV, $8,000

Carley Cervi, SSIV, $7,875

Tracy Nowlin, SSII, $7,000

Stevi Hillman, SSV, $6,750

Nellie Miller, SSV, $6,000

Shali Lord, SSI, $4,000

Wild Card 1

Wild Card 2

 

NFR Lockhart, Hillman advance to Semi-Finals at RodeoHouston
Winning Super Series II and III
NFR

 

Houston, Texas—Some of the biggest names in WPRA barrel racing history have claimed championships at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from World Champions Ardith Bruce (1966) to Wanda Bush (1969), from Lynn McKenzie (1979, 1981) to Charmayne James’ incredible run of ten titles in eleven years.

Though RodeoHouston, as its now known, has changed venues and formats over the years, one thing that has remained unchanged for half a century is the huge impact that Houston has upon the standings for cowgirls chasing WPRA World titles and berths at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR). From the nearly $800 won by Bruce over five go rounds in 1966 to the $58,750 won by Nellie Miller through the tournament style format currently used a year ago, success in RodeoHouston equals a big year for any WPRA barrel racer.

RodeoHouston began using its tournament style in 2007, the first major American rodeo to do so. Forty cowgirls compete in one of five brackets known as Super Series with advancement following three rounds based upon total money won.

Super Series IV

Lisa Lockhart is one of the WPRA’s biggest stars but her equine partner Louie is likely just as famous as Lisa amongst fans of the sport. Louie helped Lockhart to a good finish in Denver and Rapid City back in January but has been taking a break since then while his trailermates Cutter and Rosa took up the slack for the bulk of the winter stock show run.

Louie returned to the arena for RodeoHouston as Lockhart kicked off her 2019 run inside NRG Stadium. Although RodeoHouston is one of just a handful of major rodeos that are not listed on Lockhart and Louie’s resume, the pair has been very successful here, including a pair of runner-up finishes in 2014-2015 and a return to the Championships in 2016. In fact, the duo has collected nearly $80,000 in South Texas since 2014.

The wonder horse looked sharp as ever despite a month off at home, easily winning the first round of Super Series IV with a smoking time of 14.41 seconds. In fact, the teenaged son of Beibers Oakie was three full tenths better than second placed Tammy Fischer’s run of 14.71.

Proving the win was no fluke, Louie and Lockhart duplicated it 24 hours later, taking the victory lap in round two for a time of 14.36 seconds. This time the margin of victory was just over a tenth of a second ahead of another teenaged superstar of the equine variety, Radio, owned and ridden by Carley (Richardson) Cervi.

Like Louie and Lockhart, Cervi and Radio also returned to action in time for one of their favorite rodeos at Houston. Cervi has been third here in each of the last three years aboard her super consistent grey gelding, picking up an average of $16,500 per year.

On the final night of Super Series IV, Lockhart gave Louie the night off, running another young gun, Cutter, with her position into the next round virtually assured.

One cowgirl whose advancement to the Semi-Finals was still in doubt was 2018 WPRA World Champ Hailey Kinsel. But for anyone who thought that the reigning Reserve Champ of Houston might be done in the opening rounds, that thought was quickly dispelled as the hottest team in ProRodeo picked up the third round victory. Shaving better than half a second off their first two rounds inside NRG Stadium, Kinsel and Sister posted the fastest time of the rodeo to that point at 14.32 seconds to ensure that their 2019 RodeoHouston was not yet done.

Lockhart finished as the Super Series Champ with $6,000 won followed by Cervi with $4,875 and Kinsel at $4,000. The final spot went to Fischer, who earned $2,750 in three runs.

Super Series V

RodeoHouston took a break from Super Series action on Saturday, March 9 as the unsanctioned North American Championship Super Shootout team competition took place. The two run event was won by reigning RodeoHouston Champ Nellie Miller, who picked up $25,000 after running a lightning fast 14.21 in the finals. Christine Laughlin was second while two-time World Champ Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi won third.

It turned out to be a great tune-up for Miller and Pozzi Tonozzi, both part of the field in Super Series V. While Miller came out on top in the Super Shootout, the first two nights of Super Series competition went to Pozzi Tonozzi.

Riding her very quick footed sorrel mare, Mona, Pozzi Tonozzi won both rounds one and two on Sunday and Monday. Her times of 14.27 and 14.31, respectively, were the fastest to date for the rodeo.

 

photo

NFR
Stevi Hillman
Photo Courtesy RodeoHouston
NFR

 

Miller finished third and second in the opening rounds, consistent as ever aboard her roan mare Sister.

Stevi Hillman was back aboard her gelding Cuatro Fame, aka Truck, for the first time at a rodeo since the fall and the team went right back to their winning ways, earning second in the opening round and third 24 hours later.

But the duo saved their best for last, winning the final round of preliminary competition at the 2019 RodeoHouston with the best run of the event. Truck and Hillman nailed the first corner and stopped the clock at 14.20 seconds for the victory, cinching up $6,000 for her three runs. She was named the Super Series Champ after the tie breaker (based on the three run average) went her way in the tie with Pozzi Tonozzi.

Understandably, Hillman was emotional in accepting the victory on the arena floor after months away from her main equine partner.

“I don't know what to say... other than how incredibly blessed and thankful I feel at this moment,” she posted later to social media. “This horse tries so hard for me....It has truly taken an army and I am so thankful for all the people who have helped me get Truck back. I appreciate all the support.”

“We won our set and ran the fastest time of RODEOHOUSTON thus far... God is so good.

We run tomorrow night in Semi Finals 1!”

Hillman and Pozzi Tonozzi both won $6,000 each while Miller finished third with $5,000 won. The final qualifying position went to Jackie Ganter, the former WPRA Rookie of the Year and Junior World Champ. On her comeback trail, Ganter moves ahead to the Semi-Finals with $1,750 won during Super Series V.

Semi-Finals

Half of the forty cowgirls who began the journey here in RodeoHouston remain standing as preliminary action is now done. The twenty cowgirls left will compete during two Semi-Finals rounds held Wednesday and Thursday, March 13-14. The fastest four from each night advance directly to the Championship Round on Saturday, March 17 while the other six are given one more chance through the Wild Card Round on Friday, March 16. The top two on Friday night also move into the Championship Round.

The final night consists of two runs—the Championship features ten ladies and the Championship Shootout follows immediately after that round with the four fastest cowgirls. It is during that final round that the bulk of the big purse is divvied out—$50,000 to the winner.

Semi-Final 1 on Wednesday will feature Super Series I winner Kaylee Gallino, Super Series II winner Tiany Schuster, Super Series IV winner Lisa Lockhart as well as Super Series V winner Hillman. Also competing on Wednesday are 2018 Wrangler NFR cowgirls Tracy Nowlin and Tammy Fischer along with 2018 Rookie of the Year Jimmie Smith. Former Wrangler NFR competitor Tillar Murray and two-time Great Lakes Circuit Champ Lacinda Rose are in the field along with reigning champ Miller.

Teri Bangart leads Semi-Final 2 on Thursday as the high money winner of Super Series III; Pozzi Tonozzi will be joined by 2018 Reserve WPRA World Champ Jessica Routier and 2018 WPRA World Champ Hailey Kinsel, along with top competitors Jessi Fish, Ericka Nelson and Carmel Wright. Mountain States Circuit Champ Shali Lord in the field on Thursday as is Carley Cervi and Jackie Ganter, both former Wrangler NFR competitors.

For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com. Stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates from the 2019 edition.

Super Series IV

1st Go

  1. Lisa Lockhart, An Oakie with Cash, 14.41, $3,000
  2. Tammy Fischer, LK Sheza Hayday, 14.71, $2,000
  3. Carley Cervi, Doda Flit, 14.81, $875
  4. Amber Moore, Blue Duck Down, 14.81, $875

2nd Go

  1. Lockhart, 14.36, $3,000
  2. Cervi, 14.49, $2,000
  3. Hailey Kinsel, DM Sissy Hayday, $1,000
  4. Fischer, 14.76, $750

3rd Go

  1. Kinsel, 14.32, $3,000
  2. Cervi, 14.54, $2,000
  3. Taci Bettis, Bogie is A Smash, 14.65, $1,000
  4. Jill Tanner, Credit ta Fame, 14.75, $750

Total Money Won

*Lisa Lockhart, $6,000

*Carley Cervi, $4,875

*Hailey Kinsel, $4,000

*Tammy Fischer, $2,750

Taci Bettis, $1,000

Amber Moore, $875

Jill Tanner, $750

*Advance to Semi-Finals

Super Series V

1st Go

  1. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 14.27, $3,000
  2. Stevi Hillman, Cuatro Fame, 14.31, $2,000
  3. Nellie Miller, Rafter W Minnie Reba, 14.56, $1,000
  4. Jackie Ganter, Howes A Tycoon, 14.73, $750

2nd Go

  1. Pozzi Tonozzi, 14.31, $3,000
  2. Miller, 14.40, $2,000
  3. Hillman, 14.61, $1,000
  4. Kellie Collier, Koolspeed Ta Kash, 14.63, $750

3rd Go

  1. Hillman, 14.20, $3,000
  2. Miller, 14.29, $2,000
  3. Ganter, 14.61, $1,000
  4. Carman Pozzobon, Rimes Girl, 14.82, $750

Total Money Won

*Stevi Hillman, $6,000

*Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, $6,000

*Nellie Miller, $5,000

*Jackie Ganter, $1,750

Kellie Collier, $750

Carman Pozzobon, $750

*Advance to Semi-Finals

Semi-Finals 1, March 13

Kaylee Gallino, SSI, $6,000

Stevi Hillman, SSV, $6,000

Lisa Lockhart, SSIV, $6,000

Tiany Schuster, SSII, $5,750

Tracy Nowlin, SSII, $5,000

Nellie Miller, SSV, $5,000

Tillar Murray, SSIII, $4,000

Tammy Fischer, SSIV, $2,750

Lacinda Rose, SSI, $2,500

Jimmie Smith, SSIII, $1,750

Semi-Finals 2, March 14

Teri Bangart, SSIII, $8,000

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, SSV, $6,000

Jessica Routier, SSI, $5,000

Carley Cervi, SSIV, $4,875

Ericka Nelson, SSII, $4,750

Carmel Wright, SSII, $4,750

Hailey Kinsel, SSIV, $4,000

Jessi Fish, SSIII, $3,750

Shali Lord, SSI, $3,000

Jackie Ganter, SSV, $1,750

 

NFRSchuster, Bangert Punch Ticket to Semifinal at RodeoHouston
Winning Super Series II and III
NFR

 

Houston, Texas—Success at major winter rodeos is not a requirement for qualification to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) but it sure can make the path a lot easier for cowboys and cowgirls able to capitalize on the huge purses offered from January 1 to the end of March.

No single payoff in the winter is bigger than RodeoHouston. A tournament style event with 40 invited competitors divided into brackets or Super Series of eight contestants each, Houston is all sudden death with advancement out of each Super Series dependent on being in the top four money winners following three go rounds.

The 20 Semi-Finalists make another run in one of two rounds with the fastest four advancing to  the Championship Round on March 16; the remaining six aren’t done, they move into the Wild Card Round, held March 15, where the two fastest also advance to the Championship Round.

The final night consists of a ten contestant Championship Round, followed immediately by the Championship Shoot-out, comprised of the top four from the championship round. Every round pays well but it’s the final payoff that is life changing and can make the difference between competing in December in Las Vegas or watching from the couch.

The final round winner gets $50,000, all of which counts towards WPRA World standings. Whether seasoned veterans inside this building like Tiany Schuster or RodeoHouston rookies like Teri Bangart or Jessi Fish, competitors know exactly what’s at stake during their time in south Texas.

Super Series II

Two years ago, Krum, Texas cowgirl Schuster set a new WPRA regular season earnings record with $250,378; during that magical season, she made it into six digits by the end of the Ram National Circuit Finals (RNCFR) and RodeoHouston, still in the spring.

Schuster returned to Houston to compete in the second Super Series held Thursday through Saturday, February 28 through March 2 and she brought a new stick.

A Dash of Killian has actually been in Schuster’s barn since last summer but the horse got his shoe caught on the lugnuts of the horse trailer tire after pawing while tied. A huge part of the hoof was ripped off and Killian went onto the injured list for the rest of the year. He missed more than six months as the hoof regrew.

Finally able to make her first runs on him at a jackpot a few weeks prior to RodeoHouston, Schuster decided the unique setup inside NRG Stadium might just work for the 13 year old son of Killian Pacific Plus and out of the Victory Dash mare, A Dash of Dimples.

“Today was his first pro rodeo,” joked Schuster of the first round of Super Series II, “so hey . . . . why not throw him into it at Houston, right? Do what?”

It’s not only the size of the purse that puts pressure on a team here—it’s the conditions. The pattern is set inside a football stadium, often a challenge for horses at all levels of seasoning.

Competitors race down a partially blind alleyway and the first barrel is very close to the gate so too much speed will shoot a runner way past the corner. Heading to the second two, there is nothing but two barrels in the middle of a bunch of real estate with no fences anywhere close.

After their first run at RodeoHouston, a blistering 14.46 that won the go round, Killian’s name has been changed to “Killian-em” courtesy of fellow barrel racer Kelly Tovar. The time was four tenths better than second place on the night.

Schuster and Killian would continue to pick up checks on the next two runs, racking up $5,750 in total earnings to win the set and easily advance to the Semi-Finals.

On night two on Friday, Carmel Wright took the round win aboard her mare Luna. Her time of 14.47 seconds held off Schuster’s 14.56 for the win.

The same four ladies pulled into the four money holes in round two—Schuster, Wright, Tracy Nowlin and Ericka Nelson, leaving them in the driver’s seat for one of the four spots into the Semi-Finals as the final round kicked off on Saturday afternoon, March 2.

Nowlin and Dolly Jo were top of the field on the last day, posting the fastest time of the set at 14.39 seconds for the round win. Just over two tenths separated the top four on the final night and again, the same four names popped into the leaderboard.

Nowlin finished second in the set with $5,000 won while Wright and Nelson each earned $4,750 to also advance to the next round.

Super Series III

Tennessee cowgirl Jessi Fish earned $79,619 at ProRodeos in 2018. In any other year in history, that number would have given Fish a spot into the Wrangler NFR as a member of the top 15 money earners of the year.

But 2018 was a record breaking year and the mark she needed to make was $86,947, leaving her short at 18th in the final WPRA World standings.

 

photo

NFR
Teri Bangart
Photo by Kenneth Springer
NFR

 

Judging by Fish’s performance in the first round of Super Series III here in Houston, she’s planning on getting over that hump in 2019. Riding her aptly named buckskin Showoff, Fish sprinted to the first round lead with an outstanding first run of 14.34 seconds, the fastest run of the rodeo to this point. Bangart was a close second at 14.37 seconds.

Like Fish, Bangart just missed out on the Wrangler NFR a year ago, though she was even closer. The Washington cowgirl missed the cut by just under $5,000. Also like Fish, she looks determined to make 2019 the year she gets to Vegas for the first time.


Riding her good horse Peak, Bangart won the next two rounds, keeping every run in the 14.3 second range, the best three-run series of the rodeo. She won the second round with 14.34 seconds, matching Fish’s fast time from round one.

She duplicated the win 24 hours later, despite a slight stumble around the first corner. Her winning time on Tuesday night was 14.39 seconds and allowed the cowgirl to win her Super Series in her first appearance in Houston.

Bangart has won more than any other barrel racer here so far after collecting $8,000 in three Super Series runs.

Tillar Murray rode Dirty Dan for her spins through NRG Stadium, earning second in both the second and third rounds to collect $4,000. She finished second in the Super Series.

Fish made the move to the next round after winning fourth on the final night of Super Series III. Her three-run total was $3,750.

Another RodeoHouston rookie, Jimmie Smith, claimed the final spot into the Semi-Finals. She and her mare Lena won a fourth and a third to finish with $1,750 in earnings, squeezing past Nikki Hansen and Christine Laughlin.

Up Next

Just sixteen competitors remain in the final two Super Series. Super Series IV kicks off on Wednesday and concludes Friday while the final set runs Sunday through Monday. The RodeoHouston Super Shootout, an unsanctioned, invitational only competition, will be held on Saturday, March 9.

Super Series IV features the reigning WPRA World Champ Hailey Kinsel, fresh off wins in both Fort Worth and San Antonio as well as RFD-TV’s The American, though the latter did not count for WPRA World standings. Former Houston champs Sherry Cervi and Tammy Fischer will compete in Super Series IV along with Taci Bettis, Carley Cervi, Lisa Lockhart, Amber Moore and Jill Tanner, who earned her spot just ten days ago with a huge win in San Angelo.

Reigning Houston champion Nellie Miller will headline Super Series V. She’ll be joined by two-time World Champ Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, reigning Wrangler NFR champion Carman Pozzobon, Stevi Hillman, Kelly Bruner, Kellie Collier, Jackie Ganter and Ivy Conrado.

For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com. Stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates from the 2019 edition.

Super Series II

1st Go

  1. Tiany Schuster, A Dash of Killian, 14.46, $3,000
  2. Ericka Nelson, Goodfrenchmanfriday, 14.81, $2,000
  3. Tracy Nowlin, DJG Madison, 14.89, $1,000
  4. Carmel Wright, Fortunes Last Xtreme, 14.90, $750

2nd Go

  1. Wright, 14.47, $3,000
  2. Schuster, 14.56, $2,000
  3. Nowlin, 14.65, $1,000
  4. Nelson, 14.85, $750

3rd Go

  1. Nowlin, 14.39, $3,000
  2. Nelson, 14.52, $2,000
  3. Wright, 14.58, $1,000
  4. Schuster, 14.62, $750

Total Money Won

*Tiany Schuster, $5,750

*Tracy Nowlin, $5,000

*Carmel Wright, $4,750

*Ericka Nelson, $4,750

*Advance to Semi-Finals

Super Series III

1st Go

  1. Jessi Fish, Guys Night in Vegas, 14.34, $3,000
  2. Teri Bangart, RCA Three Bugs Honor, 14.37, $2,000
  3. Christine Laughlin, Guys Six Pack to Go, 14.50, $1,000
  4. Jimmie Smith, Lena on the Rocks, 14.94, $750

2nd Go

  1. Bangart, 14.34, $3,000
  2. Tillar Murray, Dirty Dan Stinson, 14.50, $2,000
  3. Smith, 14.54, $1,000
  4. Jana Bean, Dashing Klee, 14.58, $750

3rd Go

  1. Bangart, 14.39, $3,000
  2. Murray, 14.78, $2,000
  3. Nikki Hansen, Sky High Guy, 14.81, $1,000
  4. Fish, 14.89, $750

Total Money Won

*Teri Bangart, $8,000

*Tillar Murray, $4,000

*Jessi Fish, $3,750

*Jimmie Smith, $1,750

Christine Laughlin, $1,000

Nikki Hansen, $1,000

Jana Bean, $750

*Advance to Semi-Finals

 

NFRGallino Gains Headlines with Super Series I Dominance at RodeoHouston
NFR

 

Houston, Texas—Winter rodeo season can be incredibly lucrative for rodeo competitors and it’s not unusual for some cowboys and cowgirls to get so hot from January 1st until the end of March that they secure a position at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR)—given only to the top 15 money winners for the entire season—within that time frame.

While that is virtually everyone’s plan as the new year begins, there is a small step that can get in the way of implementation.

For the most part, the major winter rodeos are limited, basing the bulk of their qualifications on previous year’s WPRA World standings, However, several years ago the WPRA Board of Directors devised the WPRA Tour as a way to give competitors who don’t haul full time an opportunity at a few spots in some of ProRodeos most lucrative events.

The WPRA Tour is comprised of a handful of rodeos spread out across all 12 WPRA circuits and points are awarded for wins instead of dollars. All rodeos on the Tour are free of entry limitations and add $5,000 or less in committee purse. Ladies are allowed to count their seven best Tour stops towards standings and many of the largest ProRodeos now accept a few of the top leaders from the Tour into their rodeos.

 

photo

NFR
Kaylee Gallino
Photo Courtesy RodeoHouston
NFR

 

Wasta, South Dakota cowgirl Kaylee Gallino understood the importance of earning WPRA Tour points in 2018.

“I had two goals last year,” explains the cowgirl. “The first was to make my circuit finals and the other was to win the WPRA Tour standings, so I would be able to get into these big limited entry rodeos.”

Gallino accomplished both goals, winning the WPRA Tour with 96.7 points. The cowgirl hit rodeos across her home circuit, the Badlands, and went as far as New York to secure the win. Her reward? A berth into places like the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, Calgary Stampede and RodeoHouston.

RodeoHouston is a tournament style rodeo. Accepting just 40 entries derived from WPRA World standings, Tour standings and rodeo committee invites, the rodeo is broken into five brackets with eight ladies in each. Two spots go to the top cowgirls from the WPRA Tour.

Each bracket hosts three rounds of competition and the four cowgirls with the most money won following the third round advance to the Semi-Finals rounds on March 13-14, 2019. No times carry forward nor are averages kept at any point.

Two semi-finals performances will be held with ten competitors in each. The four fastest from each performance move on to the Super Series Championship, held during the final performance of the rodeo on March 16, 2019.

The remaining six cowgirls get one more chance at the final night during the Wild Card round on March 15; two will move on from there, based on the times run in that round.

The Super Series Championship of ten ladies will complete one round of competition before the top four advance to the Championship Shoot-Out, held later within the same performance. It is then a winner-take-all race.

Gallino wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity she created for herself, winning the first night of Super Series I on the opening night of the 2019 rodeo. Riding her good horse Bob, Gallino stopped the clock at 14.53 seconds.

Shali Lord, who finished as the Reserve Champ in San Antonio just two nights prior to that, was second behind Gallino with 14.67 seconds.

Held inside NRG Stadium, usually used for Houston Texans’ football games, the pattern for the WPRA barrel race is very small, coming from a short, blind alley with every barrel set many feet from a fence inside the monstrous arena. Add the huge and enthusiastic crowd, and you’ve got some of the toughest conditions for a horse’s concentration on the pro trail.

Despite it being his first time in Houston, Bob ate up the barrels like a seasoned veteran, which he actually is. Now 15 years old, Bob has been Gallino’s partner for many years.

“I started playing around on him when he was four, went to a handful of futurities on him and been on him ever since then,” she says.

Continuing on the same path, Gallino and Bob won for the second time during round two on Tuesday night. This time, they put a run of 14.44 seconds together for the victory lap.

Gallino’s fellow Badlands Circuit competitor Jessica Routier and her mare Missy took second place with a run of 14.55 seconds.

After two nights, only Gallino and Lacinda Rose have placed twice. Rose and her horse Real Deal were third and fourth, respectively.

The final night of Super Series I was Wednesday, February 27 and it belonged to Routier, the reigning WPRA Reserve World Champion. Routier blistered through in the fastest time of the rodeo thus far, a smooth and effortless 14.35 seconds for the round win.

Jessie Telford, her competitor and fellow rookie Wrangler NFR cowgirl in 2018, was right on her heels at 14.43 seconds for her first check of the rodeo.

In the end, Gallino stole the show with her two round wins, taking the Super Series championship with $6,000 won. Routier was next with $5,000.

The final two spots into the Semi-Finals went to Lord with $3,000 and Rose with $2,500. Rose placed fourth on the final night and was the only cowgirl to place in every payoff.

Super Series II kicks off on Thursday with former Houston champ Mary Burger along with Andrea Busby, Callahan Crossley, Emily Miller, Ericka Nelson, Tracy Nowlin, Carmel Wright and Tiany Schuster. The set will conclude on Saturday, March 2. Super Series III begins on Sunday and includes Teri Bangart, Jana Bean, Jessi Fish, Nikki Hansen, Christine Laughlin, Tillar Murray, Jimmie Smith and Sarah Rose Waguespack.

For more information on RodeoHouston, visit them on-line at www.rodeohouston.com. Stay tuned to www.wpra.com for continuing updates from the 2019 edition.

Super Series I

1st Go

  1. Kaylee Gallino, JC Truly Bob, 14.53, $3,000
  2. Shali Lord, Freckles ta Fame, 14.67, $2,000
  3. Lacinda Rose, RR Meradas Real Deal, 14.74, $1,000
  4. Kylie Weast, Namgis D 15, 14.85, $750

2nd Go

  1. Gallino, 14.44, $3,000
  2. Jessica Routier, Fiery Miss West, 14.55, $2,000
  3. Shelly Anzick, Actionforcashrb, 14.66, $1,000
  4. Rose, 14.70, $750

3rd Go

  1. Routier, 14.35, $3,000
  2. Jessie Telford, Famous Cool Whip, 14.43, $2,000
  3. Lord, 14.52, $1,000
  4. Rose, 14.69, $750

Total Money Won

*Kaylee Gallino, $6,000

*Jessica Routier, $5,000

*Shali Lord, $3,000

*Lacinda Rose, $2,500

Jessie Telford, $2,000

Shelly Anzick, $1,000

Kylie Weast, $750

*Advance to Semi-Finals

 

 

Pin It

Print