So-so start, fabulous finish for Farland, Thomas at INFR
LAS VEGAS, Nev.
After coming off from some so-so performances in the open division, Sierra Farland and Chance Thomas took the challenge head-on in their respective junior events at the Indian National Finals Rodeo on Thursday.
Both contestants earned double qualifications but they felt stagnant at the start of this year’s finals with Farland dropping a barrel in the ladies barrel racing while Thomas got bucked off twice in the open bull riding.
They remained unfazed by their early results as they started the junior division with a bang.
Farland, from Tonalea, Arizona, beat out 34 other junior barrel racers with a first-place run of 15.053 seconds during Thursday’s first round performance of the INFR’s junior events.
“I started my finals real shaky,” said Farland, who recorded a 15.722 run in her first open barrel runs before she knocked down a barrel in the second round to put her out of contention in the ladies barrel racing.
“It really didn’t work out for me,” she said.
Thomas, meanwhile, rode a Granger Rodeo Company bull for an eye-popping 84-point ride in the junior bulls.
“He felt nice and he just rode right into my hand,” the Gallup cowboy said of his draw. “I just wanted to have fun and I let it all hang out.”
Thomas said his ride gave him some much needed self-assurance for the rest of the week as he hopes to improve on his fourth-place finish from a year ago.
“This boosts my confidence way up there,” he said. “I feel great.”
Like Thomas, Farland said she’s looking for a strong finish in her fourth INFR qualification.
“I was a little upset with how things were going so I had to reset my mind,” she said. “Today I wanted to keep all my barrels up and keep my run clean.”
The Tonalea, Arizona cowgirl expects to see her times improve as her horse Monkey is getting used to his surroundings inside the South Point Equestrian Center.
“I know he’ll work out his timing and he’s going to get faster every time we make a run,” she said. “It’s my job to stay on top and keep all the barrels up.”
With a run of 15.175, Washington cowgirl Rocksie Marchand finished second behind Farland. Cayda Dodging Horse placed third with a 15.335 run followed by Isabela Timentwa (15.348) and Kaley Conway (15.382).
In the junior bulls, Dylan Bradford and Kasen Johnson trailed Thomas by 13 points as the two cowboys finished in a two-way tie for second place with a pair of 71-point scores.
With a 68-point effort, Chance Abrams took fourth while Wynn Wells and Ethan Marceau split fifth with a pair of 66-point rides.
In the senior breakaway roping, Bart Ness won the first round with a 2.04 effort, which was better than the 2.15 run turned in by Leonard Williams Sr., the 2017 world champion.
“I needed to get a good start coming out of the box,” Williams said. “I knew I had to push the barrier a little bit because you have to be fast in order to place here.”
To stay in contention for another world title, Williams said he’s going to stay aggressive for the rest of the week.
“They’re all pretty good,” he said of his competition. “They have their days, just like I have my days, so you can’t back off.”
With a time of 2.19, Troy Crawler took third followed by Diné cowboy Johnson Stevenson (2.41) and Alfred Armajo Jr. (2.43).
In the senior team roping, Williams placed sixth with heeling partner Spider Ramone as they recorded a 10.42 run, which included a five-second penalty.
The team roping combo of Ben Foreman and Tarz Forman won the event with a 6.60 run. They finished ahead of the Eric C. Watson/Bill Lamere (8.91) pair, the Rudy Blossom/Norbert Gibson (8.89) combo, the Robie Inman/Ralph Williams (9.49) twosome and the Karl Dennison/Albert Nez (9.85) duo.
In the junior breakaway, Hance Indian Three Irons posted the rodeo’s fastest run with a sizzling 1.97 effort.
That run bested the efforts turned in by Ty Vaile (2.27), Kash Weasel Fat (2.48), Michael Williams (2.48), Savannah Joe (2.83) and Kadin Jodie (2.89).
The second round of the junior/senior events will resume today at 1 p.m. with the top 10 contestants after two rounds making Saturday afternoon’s championship round.