Bound for CNFRJun 16, 2014 By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor
Kaylee Burnett was calm under pressure all season long on her way to winning the women's all-around rodeo title in the Central Rocky Mountain Region.
Burnett claimed the barrel racing title for the Central Wyoming College Rustlers.
She also won the regional all-around cowgirl buckle.
The CWC sophomore now will participate in both barrel racing and goat tying at the College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.
The week-long rodeo begins on Sunday afternoon.
"I can't wait for the CNFR," Burnett said. "I'm so excited. I just try not to get nervous and think that it's going to be a fun week."
Burnett left for the big show on Thursday to get in some practice runs.
"I have been counting down since school got out," Burnett said. "It has gone fast."
The top 12 cowboys and cowgirls in each event make the championship finals Saturday night.
Burnett came to the CWC campus from Farson.
CWC cowboy Coltin Hill placed third in the region in steer wrestling to qualify for the CNFR.
Two weeks ago, however, Hill injured his knee in a rodeo, and he won't compete in the CNFR after all.
Each competitor has the opportunity to perform three times in their respective events.
"I need to have clean runs in the barrels and be consistent," Burnett said. "In the goats, I need to be smooth."
Burnett competes in both events in the slack period on Monday morning.
She will have the same schedule on Tuesday morning.
Burnett has a slot in the Tuesday night performance in the barrels.
The performances start each night at 7.
Her last run in the goat tying will be on Thursday night.
"The times (of day) will not make a difference," Burnett said. "Two runs on Tuesday will be tough. We have made two runs in a day before. There is a lot of time in-between to get him (her horse) rested up."
The start is key for Burnett.
"Hopefully, the first run in the barrel racing will be good," Burnett said. "Then we can make each one better."
In the women's all-around regional standings, Burnett scored 1,065 points. Gillette's Taylor Engesser was second (930 points).
"It was kind of unreal, but it was awesome," Burnett said. "It's what everyone works for."
Things started to click for Burnett when she won the all-around title at Fort Collins in the spring season.
"Everything felt right together," Burnett said. "That is when things where good."
At CSU, Burnett had a strong weekend in both goat tying and in barrel racing. All-around qualification requires competing in two events.
"The competition is pretty tough in the all-around," Burnett said. "You have to have so many points in two events. There are a lot of girls that are tough in multiple events. You have to stay on your toes."
The race went down to the final rodeo of the year.
"It took a minute to settle in, then I was just really excited," Burnett said.
Barrels and goats
Burnett extended her lead in barrel racing late in the spring season.
"I made nine clean runs in the spring," Burnett said.
Burnett ended up winning three of the spring rodeos in barrel.
"Things just came together at the right time," Burnett said. "Barrel racing in the region is super tough. It was a fight to the end. Nobody was going to give it up."
Gillette College's Kristi Steffes was second (755 points). Teammate Tally Roepke ended third (725).
"You have to ride aggressive and think about it," Burnett said. "You can't get lazy."
The CWC student-athlete has been with the same barrel racing horse since her senior year of high school.