By Ann Bleiker
The 2019 WPRA World Finals gets underway this weekend at the Extraco Center in Waco, Texas. Contestants competing this weekend are doing so either in search of a world title, or looking to get a head start on the 2020 rodeo season, or looking to fill their permit or just looking for some extra cash before the holiday season arrives. Whatever it might be it will be an exciting weekend for the ladies of the WPRA.
Next to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the WPRA World Finals is one of the biggest events of the year for the WPRA that attracts the highest caliber of barrel racers and female ropers from across the country.
This year’s event offers $98,000 in added money and PESI bonus money. In addition, nine world champions will be crowned along with the hotly contested WPRA Card Holder race, and Permit Only Race.
The WPRA Card Holder race will boast $15,000 in added money with money counting for the 2020 ProRodeo standing and qualification to RodeoHouston.
Over the last four years the Card Holder Race champion has gone on to either qualify for the Wrangler NFR finish in the top 25, with one winning a world title. At the 2015, Mary Burger used the WPRA Card Holder Race to get a head start on her 2016 season that ended with setting a new regular season earnings record and a second world title. In 2016, Tiany Schuster also used the race to move into the No. 1 spot in the 2017 WPRA World Standings and she never looked back. Schuster smashed the regular season earnings record in the WPRA winning $250,378, prior to the NFR. In 2017, Kelly Bruner took the title and qualified for her first Wrangler NFR in 2018. The 2018 card holder winner was Jackie Ganter, who finished the 2019 season in the top 25 after dealing with the highs and lows of the rodeo road and horse injuries. The WPRA Card Holder race has proven to be a stepping stone to bigger wins and events and one not to be missed.
A $5,000 added Permit Only event gives permit and new members a chance to fill their permit at the end of the weekend. There is no other race like this in the world where a WPRA permit member races against permit only members for a shot at a share of $5,000.
Roping Takes Center Stage
The World Finals is the crowning event for WPRA Ropers and this year’s event is shaping up to be an exciting finish to a historic season specifically with the increased exposure for breakaway ropers.
Kelsie Chace captured her first breakaway world title in 2017 and added a second in 2018. She is now going for three consecutive breakaway roping titles this weekend in Waco. Chace of Cherokee, Oklahoma enters with a $675 lead over Lari Dee Guy, $863 over Jackie Crawford and $3,286 over rookie roping sensation Taylor Munsell. Guy, who started the Rope Like A Girl campaign is an eight-time WPRA World Champion with two of those titles being in breakaway roping. She too will be looking for a third breakaway roping world title. Crawford, an 18-time WPRA World Champion, will be looking for a third breakaway world title having won her first in 2014 and second in 2016. Munsell is looking for her first WPRA World title of any kind. Whichever lady comes out on top they will set a new earnings record in the breakaway roping with over $50,000 won for the year.
Chace will also be returning to try and defend her world title in the tie-down roping. While she has a bit of an uphill climb, she is definitely within striking distance. Montanna Gambino of Lindale, Texas, holds a narrow lead over Tanegai Zilverberg of Holabird, S.D., and two-time world champion Kari Nixon enters in the No. 3 position. This event is shaping up to be one to watch as well.
On the team roping side Beverly Robbins is in the driver’s seat on the heading side with over $25,000 won on the year. Robbins of Muscle Shoals, Alabama is looking for her first WPRA World Title. Her closest competitor is Jackie Crawford who has won over $19,000 on the year. It will be a two lady showdown on the team roping heading side.
Two-time and reigning world champion team roping heeler Whitney DeSalvo finds herself in familiar territory as she enters the WPRA World Finals this weekend. DeSalvo of Springfield, Ark., will officially collect her third consecutive world title in Waco as she brings an $11,778 lead over rookie Danielle Lowman into the weekend. That will not slow DeSalvo down any as she wouldn’t mind adding another average title to her resume and cash to her bank account.
The all-around world title will be decided in Waco with several in the hunt including Montanna Gambino, Jackie Crawford, Kelsie Chace, Lari Dee Guy, and Taylor Munsell to name a few. It will be exciting to see how this race shakes out and if a former champion will come out on top or if a new name will be added to the record books.
Special Team Competition - Saturday Night
After a fun and successful debut in 2017, the WPRA is bringing back the team competition for a third time during the Saturday night performance of the World Finals. This competitive and exciting format provides a fun atmosphere while highlighting our ropers, junior barrel racers and rodeo partners that will be our team owners.
The top Ropers and Junior Barrel Racers entering the World finals will be invited to compete on one of 5 teams. Each team will consist of 5 members, a breakaway roper, tie-down roper, team roping header, heeler and junior barrel racer. Teams will be scored on how well their contestants do in each event. The contestant with the fastest time in each event will receive a $200 bonus and the team with the highest score at the end will win $2,000 or $400 per teammate.
The team owners include Colorado Springs, Colo. (the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo), Fort Worth, Texas (Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo), Salt Lake City (Days of '47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo), Houston (RodeoHouston) and Calgary (Calgary Stampede).
The audience will get to join in the fun by cheering on their favorite team and getting a chance to take home some huge prizes such as an EXISS trailer, an NFR package, a set of Cooper Tires, and a YETI Tundra Cooler! Every entry into the World Finals is an automatic entry into the drawing but you must be present to win. To increase your chances of winning each attendee will have the opportunity to participate in additional activities to have their name added more times.
After a very impressive season in the WPRA Junior ranks McKenzie Morgan will be honored with the 2019 WPRA Junior World Championship. Morgan of Maryville, Tennessee has won over $40,500 in just seven events this year. Her closest competitor is reigning world champion Patton Ann Lynch of Crawford, Texas. Lynch has competed at 10 events and has won just under $20,000. Although Lynch will not have a chance to defend her title, she will be looking to win the average title in Waco this weekend. Come cheer on the future of the WPRA.
All World Finals barrel racing action will be webcast through The Horse Sports Network. A link to watch it live will be available at www.wpra.com. In addition, the Wrangler Network will stream action from the roping arena on Friday night and Saturday morning. They will also webcast live the special team competition on Saturday night and the final round of the card holder race on Sunday.
Be sure to keep up with all the action through these two webcasts and share the information with friends and family that aren't able to be in Waco to watch you!