Warriors ride to rodeo titles

Whitley Reece of Eastern Oregon University rounds a barrel on her way to a 15 second ride during the barrel racing portion of the College Rodeo finals Sunday afternoon.

Whitley Reece of Eastern Oregon University rounds a barrel on her way to a 15 second ride during the barrel racing portion of the College Rodeo finals Sunday afternoon. Photo by Sean G. Parsons.

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla Community College took home three rodeo titles here Sunday in championship-go action at the final performance of the Riding Against Child Abuse College Rodeo.

Two Warrior cowgirls came from back in the pack to win titles and a Warrior team roping duo held on to claim the team roping title.

Brittany Leasy came into Sunday’s finals in breakaway roping setting fifth, .9 seconds behind the leader. Leasy roped her calf in a Sunday-best 3.2 seconds.

When leader Sierra Bott from Boise State University could do no better than a 4.6, the title belonged to Leasy.

“I drew a good calf and my horse worked well,” Leasy said. “I just went and roped him. I actually drew him (the calf) in the first round. I had an advantage because I already ran him once. I knew exactly what he was going to do.”

Leasy, who came into the rodeo sitting 12th in the Northwest Region, had a run of 3.6 the first time she drew the calf, and won the breakaway championship by bettering her time by .4 seconds.

“I got out better on this one (run),” Leasy said. “My horse worked a lot better than he did on the first run.”

Lexi Cameron entered the Sunday go in goat tying third, .7 behind Blue Mountain’s Taylor Schneider. Cameron, a freshman and veteran of the National High School Finals rodeo last summer, got her goat tied in 7.6 and won the average with a time of 15.6 on two head to edge Schneider’s average of 16.5.

“All I was thinking about was making a smooth run,” Cameron said. “I was worried about the girls that were going after me because they’re very competitive tiers.”

Cameron’s run was smooth enough to lead the go as she edged Sierra Ridley of Oregon Institute Sunday’s run by .2 as Ridley came home in 7.8, and Cameron drew a good goat.

“Smooth is fast,” Cameron said. “When I went to my trailer, I tried to play it over in my mind and I couldn’t even remember it (the run). So I guess it was pretty smooth.

“I was lucky enough to not draw the No. 2 (goat),” Cameron said. “He’s the wildest one of the goats.”

Warrior cowboys and veterans from the 2012 men’s national collegiate championship run, Bryce Palmer and Jake Minor, came into Sunday’s performance with the fastest time in team roping, 6.5. Palmer on the head, and Minor on the heels, didn’t have a clean run, but their 11.1 Sunday was good enough to earn them the rodeo title with an average of 17.6 on two.

“My job was to get out of the barrier and catch it clean and give my partner a handle,” header Palmer said. “The steer went left and made it hard for my partner to do his job.”

“The steer was hard to rope, but I should’ve caught him anyway,” Minor said of his one-leg catch. “That one got heavy. It came into the wall and I think that’s why. It’s harder to pull them off the wall.”

The 6.5 on their first run gave the Warrior duo a cushion heading to Sunday’s go.

“We caught the first one pretty good,” Minor said.

“It (the 6.5 run) went as planned,” Palmer added. “This one was a tougher deal for him (Minor). We knew it (the steer) went left, but we didn’t know how that would make his job. We got by it, not as good as we wanted, so it worked out.”

In other events, Blue Mountain’s Justin Parke took the tie-down roping title with an average of 18.7 on two.

Blue Mountain cowboy Kash Wilson turned in a 71 ride on Painted Bills to win the bareback riding with 137 on two.

Treasure Valley’s Dalton Jim posted an average of 129 to win the saddle bronc title.

WSU cowboy Taylor Gregg posted a 11.7 average to win the steer wrestling.

Central Washington’s Emily Robertson turned a 14.70 run around the barrels on Sunday and won the title with a 29.11 on two runs.

Eastern Oregon’s Ethan Weiser’s 81 ride qualified him as the bull riding winner.

The three-day event drew great crowds as the Warriors performed inside and outside the competitive arena.

“The crowds all weekend were great,” WWCC coach Buster Barton said. “It was an overall success.”

On the competitive side, what Barton found time to see, he liked.

“The team as a whole is involved in the production side and as a coach, putting it (the rodeo) on, it’s hard to keep track of all the kids like I would like, too,” Barton added. “I know we showed well. We struggle in the rough stock. Overall, we did great. It’s hard coming out of winter. Our last rodeo was in October and we practice year around. It’s nice to get back to competition and out of the daily practice grind.”

With the Walla Walla rodeo finished, Barton now returns to full-time coaching and defense of the Warrior men’s National Championship.

“I get to enjoy the rest of the season,” Barton said. “The pressures of putting on a rodeo are over. We can buckle down and get to work (coaching).”

The Warriors travel to Lewiston April 19 for their next rodeo action.

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