DENVER, Colo. – The barrel racing couldn’t have been any more exciting at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo on Saturday night.
The arena record in the Denver Coliseum prior to this year’s rodeo was set in 2002 by Tammy Fischer at 14.69. That was broken during the eighth performance by Chelsea Moore, from Rose Hill, Kansas, who stopped the clock in 14.68 seconds. Then Hailey Kinsel and her great mare, DM Sissy Hayday broke it again at 14.63.
On Saturday night during Semi-Finals 3, Tessa Arnold from Coleman, Texas, shattered it. Arnold is a first-year member of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) who is competing at Denver for the first time. She is riding a horse that is a clone of Latte, the gelding that Mary Walker rode to a world championship.
Arnold has benefited from Walker’s coaching as well as riding Latte Ditto. They did well in their bracket and advanced to the Semi-Finals where they had the sold-out crowd screaming. When she rode out of the arena and her 14.50-second time was announced, the noise level in the building increased exponentially.
She will now be riding for the championship on Sunday. Arnold is leading the WPRA’s Rookie of the Year standings. She is also a freshman at Weatherford (Texas) College and competing in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Southwest Region.
Rodeo’s regular season began October 1, but the big building rodeos that start in January typically are what contestants look forward to in the new year. If Arnold wins the title here in Denver it will be the biggest win of her young career.
The Championship Finals will kick off in the Denver Coliseum on Sunday at 2 p.m.