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January 18, 2013

BRETT HOFFMAN: Taylor making a name in Finals Rodeo

ODESSA — Fans who have followed pro rodeo over the past two decades would remember Fallon Taylor, a Texas barrel racer who earned her first National Finals Rodeo berth at 13.

From 1995 through 1998, Taylor qualified for the Las Vegas championships aboard a high-powered mare named Flo.

This season, Taylor, 30, who is from Whitesboro, stands an excellent chance of returning to the Wrangler NFR aboard a mare named Babyflo, which is a daughter of Flo.

On Jan. 12, Taylor and Babyflo tied for first at the SandHills Stock Show Rodeo in Odessa. Taylor split the win with Kenna Squires after each cowgirl turned in a time of 14.14 seconds.

After winning the traditional West Texas winter show, Taylor is ranked first in the Women's Professional Rodeo Association world title race with regular-season barrel racing earnings of $16,007.

"It doesn't matter if it's cold, or if it's 120 degrees outside, she gives it her best," Taylor said of 7-year-old Babyflo.

Taylor and Babyflo began competing last spring. When the season concluded on Sept. 30, they finished 16th in the WPRA barrel racing standings, one slot shy of qualifying for the 2012 NFR.

Since then, Taylor has been relentless. She also tied for first at the October NILE ProRodeo in Billings, Mont., and won the November Texas Stampede Rodeo in Allen, which count toward earning a 2013 NFR berth.

"It's like we're catching some steam," Taylor said. "We've finally got it rolling and we're ready."

Another cowboy who will be making a strong attempt to return to the NFR this year is bull rider Chandler Bownds of Lubbock. Thoughout a big part of last year, Bownds was sidelined with a nagging groin injury and missed qualifying for the 2012 NFR.

According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Bownds suffered a groin injury at the Crockett (Texas) Lions Club PRCA Rodeo last spring, took a month off and then aggravated the injury at the Sisters (Ore.) Rodeo, in June. He underwent surgery in Philadelphia on June 28, where doctors reattached his groin muscle to his pelvis and he was sidelined for another two months.

After all that, it has taken awhile for Bownds to regain full strength. At the Odessa rodeo, Bownds proved that he’s competitive again by winning the bull riding title with a score of 89 aboard a bovine named Jaw Bender .

The other champions at the $270,136 Odessa rodeo were bareback riders Bobby Mote and Jake Halverson (86 points each), steer wrestler Todd Suhn (10.9 seconds on two runs), team ropers Erich Rogers and Cory Petska (9.8 seconds on two runs), saddle bronc rider Cody Wright (85 points), tie-down roper Blair Burk (16.1 seconds on two runs), steer roper Cody Lee (50.7 seconds on four runs).

Cowboy Hall of Fame

Former Dallas Cowboys star defensive tackle Randy White was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.

Other members of the class of 2013 are sports physician Tandy Freeman, the late stock contractor Tommy Steiner, former National Finals qualifier Sandy Kirby and the Fort Worth-based Edwards Ranch.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has written a rodeo column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the past quarter century. Email him at brett@myrodeo-insider.com.

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