The last time Kailee Webb competed at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, the University of Wyoming cowgirl severely damaged a knee, banging her leg against the first barrel, hurting her chances in the championship round.
Fast forward to Monday morning, when the Isabel, S.D., junior was the third competitor out of the gate shortly after 7 a.m. The early-morning wake-up call didn’t hamper the UW team member one bit, as she completed the three turns in 14.53 seconds.
And the way-too-early lead. Or, so it seemed.
However, every competitor after her couldn’t top Webb’s time, and the UW cowgirl ended the first round as the national leader. The yearlong recovery from her serious knee injury from a year ago is in her past as she aims for a second straight finals appearance in the Casper Events Center.
“She looked good,” UW Coach George Howard says, adding that the time was a bit slow for the opening round, considering most leaders record sub-14-second times or a “short 14” time.
This Casper Events Center arena has a different feel, because sand was added to the dirt floor that had some moisture in it. The added sand made the arena floor much slower than usual, as indicated by Webb’s mid-14-second winning time.
Webb wasn’t the only UW cowgirl to put points on the board for the team.
Senior Amelia Anderson split the seventh/eighth positions after Monday’s opening goat tying slack. With the completion of the first round, the Forsyth, Mont., senior’s time of 6.4 seconds netted the team 15 points.
With Webb’s 80 points for winning the round, the Cowgirls have 95 points after two days of competition.
“It’s a good start for us and puts us in the middle of things,” Howard says.
The first day of competition for two other UW Cowgirls was not as promising.
Competing in goat tying, first-year team member Cori Terry, from McKinnon, stumbled on her dismount, costing her valuable time in posting a 7.5-second time. Earlier in the same event, teammate Casey Reimler had a freak occurrence when the leather strap on her stirrup broke when the Rozet junior prepared to dismount. She face-planted on the arena floor and tried to recover, but the mishap left her with a time of 9.8 seconds.
All three UW goat tyers still can move on to Saturday’s short go, but they need low 6-second times or less to stay in contention.
After a no-score in his opening round, UW saddle bronc rider Wyatt Hageman, a Jay Em junior, kept his short go hopes alive, scoring 71 points on “Sugarland.”
“This helps, and he’s sitting fifth in the second round,” Howard says.
The only other UW men’s team members competing are the roping duo of Denton and Dusty Taylor, of Craig, Colo. The brothers had a no-time in the opening round.
All but Hageman will compete in the final section of slack Tuesday morning.
Webb also will compete in the first night performance of the week later that evening, meaning she will complete her three rounds of competition and, by then, she should know how she sits heading into Saturday night’s championship round.
Only the top 12 in each event move on to Saturday’s short go.
Also competing Tuesday night, and wrapping up her three rounds, of competition will be Reimler. Then, it’s a waiting game for both Webb and Reimler.