During the waning moments of a pro rodeo regular season, compelling come-from-behind stories gallop onto the scene.
This year, Texas barrel racer Ryann Pedone had a remarkable, standout story of rallying in a clutch situation. When she learned that she had qualified for the barrel racing semifinals at the Pro Tour Finale in Rapid City, South Dakota, she was about 950 miles away. She had traveled to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to prepare for another barrel racing competition.
Entering the Sept. 22-26 Pro Tour Finale, Pedone was ranked No. 16 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standings and just outside of the top 15 finishers who qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Pedone was in Ardmore because she didn’t think she had performed well enough in the first two preliminary rounds in Rapid City for a berth in the semifinals and a shot to make the NFR, scheduled for Dec. 3-12 at Globe Life Field in Arlington. But on the evening of Sept. 25 in Ardmore, she got a phone call saying she had eked out eighth place and the last qualification spot for the semifinals.
Pedone scrambled, asking a family member to take her place in Ardmore before she hopped on a plane Sept. 26 to return to Rapid City. The horse she had competed on during the Pro Tour Finale, a 7-year-old quarter horse stallion whose nickname in Stinger, was still in Rapid City, just in case she earned a semifinal berth.
She finished fourth in the semifinal round, the last slot to qualify for the finals. But Pedone still hadn’t earned enough points to move into the top 15 of the standings and needed to finish first or second in the finals to have a chance, she said.
Pedone and Stinger then went out and won the final round, finishing with a time of 15.97 seconds to barely edge former world champion Nellie Miller and 2019 National Finals qualifier Donna Kay Rule who tied for second. Pedone clinched a spot in the NFR by finishing 11th in the standings.
“When it’s your turn, it’s like nothing can stop you,” said Pedone, who is from Sunset, about 60 miles northwest of Fort Worth. “When it’s not your turn, you can’t make it happen and you just have to have a really good attitude. I’ve had lots of time in life that that’s where it was, and then this one moment in my life, 36 years, it came together.”
Pedone said Stinger, whose American Quarter Horse Association registered name is Feel The Sting, was bred to make clutch barrel racing runs. The horse is owned by High Point Performance Horses of Pilot Point (Jason Martin and Charlie Cole). Stinger’s mother is MP Meter My Hay, whose nickname was Stingray and was ridden by former pro rodeo world champion barrel racer Sherry Cervi.
“He’s genetically gifted for the set up that he was in,” Pedone said. “He really showed a huge side of his mom under that kind of pressure.”
College rodeo update
On the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southern Region circuit, Kyle Lane McDaniel of Trinity Valley Community College clinched the bull riding title at the Oct. 2-3 Southwest Texas Junior College Rodeo in Uvalde.
The Southwest Texas Junior College Rodeo was the second of 10 NIRA Southern Region shows scheduled for the 2020-2021 regular season.
After the first two rodeos of the regular season, McDaniel is ranked No. 1 in the Southern Region's bull riding title race with 160 points. Christopher Kyle Villanueva of Sam Houston State is ranked No. 2 with 120.
Sam Houston State finished second at the Southwest Texas Junior College Rodeo with 310 points that were earned throughout the two-day rodeo. Wharton County Junior College finished second with 270.
Sam Houston State is ranked No. 2 in the Southern Region women’s team standings after the first two rodeos of the regular season with 379 points. Wharton County Junior College is ranked No. 1 with 415.
The next stop for Southern Region riders is the Oct. 16-17 Northeast Texas Community College Rodeo in Mount Pleasant.
PRCA/WPRA season closes
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association circuit’s regular season concluded on Sept. 30. Shelley Morgan, who has homes in Eustace and Canton, has advanced for the Wrangler NFR in barrel racing. Athens area cowboys Jeff Askey and Dustin Boquet each have earned National Finals bull riding berths.
2021 season begins
The PRCA/WPRA 2021 regular season began on Oct. 1, 2020, and is scheduled to conclude on Sept. 30, 2021. At that point, the top 15 in each standard event will advance to the 2021 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which is scheduled for Dec. 2-11 in Las Vegas.
The Oct. 1-3 Waller County Fair & Rodeo in Hempstead (which is in the Houston area) drew world class competitors such as 2018 and 2020 NFR qualifier Dustin Boquet who finished third in the bull with an 87.5 aboard a bovine named Gentle Ben. The bull is owned by Pete Carr who lives in Dallas, but owns a rodeo stock ranch near Athens.
On the Professional Bull Riders' circuit, 2016 PBR world champion Cooper Davis of Jasper clinched the title at the Oct. 3-4 Unleash The Beast tour stop in Lincoln, Nebraska, and earned $34,444. Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, is ranked No. 1 in the world standings with a commanding lead. This weekend, the PBR's Unleash The Beast, the association's top tier tour, is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 2020 World Finals is scheduled for Nov. 12-15 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has covered rodeos and horse show events for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 35 years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.