If Tuesday night was the last go-round for Sandy then Kelsey Lensegrav is thankful to have been on the 18-year old's back for her final turn of the cloverleaf. The University of Wyoming barrel racer and her horse posted their fastest time of the 2019 College Nationals Final Rodeo in their third go, a 14.45-second run that put them fourth in the aggregate with a three-run time of 43.93 seconds.
Sandy didn't comment after Tuesday's ride and Lensegrav could hardly find the words as well.
"Yeah, no, I, uh, wow," she smiled, "I can't believe that."
This is only Lensegrav's second year riding with Sandy, both ending in trips to the college finals. Her sister rode Sandy before and qualified for the CNFR twice, making the soon-to-be-retired teenager a veteran of the Casper Events Center.
"She's the horse that if the ground's not safe she's not going to risk it, she'll safety up," Lensegrav said. "And I'm OK with that because I want her to be as 100 percent as she can be and she gave it her all today and that's all I can ask."
The Cowgirl came into the week hoping for consistency and got it with a 14.71 and 14.77 on her first two go's, respectively. She knew a slightly better run would put her in the running for Saturday's short go, which is right where she finds herself. She could feel on the second turn Tuesday night that her third ride was good but she didn't anticipate Sandy's pension for the bright lights and applause given by the Wyoming-friendly crowd on hand.
"The first two runs were some of the smoothest patterns I've had," She said. "They felt good but I could tell she was just kind of holding back. And tonight it felt a little rougher but she was just gathering energy from the crowd and that made her want it 10 percent more and that's when I knew for sure. She loves that, she's a show-off. I appreciate that about her, though."
The pair will wait out the week to see if Sandy the show-off gets one last go on the biggest stage of all.
A rough week in the tie-down continued on Tuesday night with Fresno State's Colton Campbell moving into the average lead with a three-run time of 28.9 seconds. He may not maintain the lead in the event up until Saturday's short go but, barring multiple record-breaking third go's, he'll stay within the top four.
"I've had trouble getting the calves on the ground but I've had a lot of help from my horse this week," Campbell said. "The horse makes it a lot easier for me."
The top two in the event, Tarleton State's Haven Meged and Texas A&M-Commerce's Ty Harris, both had their third go's on Wednesday night after Star-Tribune press deadlines.
Weber State's Emma Hodson moved into first with a 6.4 in her third go Tuesday night. That puts her at 18.9 on aggregate, which should be enough to push the freshman into Saturday's short. The competition is stiff though with nine cowgirls currently at 13.0 or under on two head.
"It was good, straight through, smooth," Hodson said. "That's right there I want to be so I was really happy with it."
Four-event qualifier Janey Reeves from the University of Idaho moved into a considerable lead in the breakaway by throwing a 3.5 in her third go. Reeves, along with Eastern Wyoming College's Jacey Thompson, were the only two to successfully rope three head going into Wednesday night's performance. And Thompson broke the barrier on her first go, giving Reeves a 7.8-second lead. The two kept their heads down while Arkansas-Monticello's Whitney DeSalvo electrified the crowd with a 2.3 on her first and 2.2 on her second go. But DeSalvo's cast on her third go caught awkwardly on the calf's head before falling down. Officials ruled it a no-score, drawing boo's from the crowd.
McNeese State's Gabe Soileau calmly pulled a 4.9 in his third go to take a lead in the average. Two-head leader Bridger Anderson of Northwest Oklahoma State goes later in the week, as does Central Wyoming College's Nathan Weyrich, who is in the mix with an 8.4 after two rounds.
The Wyoming duo of Jerren Johnson (Casper College) and Braden Pirrung (Eastern Wyoming College) are in good standing going into their third go. They put together a pair of 6.6-second runs in their first two, putting them in second among teams through two rounds. They trail the Hill College tandem of Ross Ashford and Cyle Denison by 2.5 seconds. The team of Dylan Jones and Jhett Trenary went atop the third go standings Tuesday night with a 6.0 for a 22.9 average.