OKLAHOMA CITY – Carlee Pierce and Rare Dillion have set the barrel racing world on fire over the last 12 months.
The tandem upped the ante on Saturday night during the fourth performance of the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, posting a 15.16-second run to win the second go-round and the two-run average title and carrying a boatload of momentum into Sunday’s championship.
How fast was the run? Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D., posted a 15.34 to finish second in the round; it was also the second fastest round of the rodeo so far, but it was nearly two-tenths of a second behind Pierce – in barrel racing, times are measured in 100ths of a second, so two-tenths is an eternity.
“It felt great from the beginning,” said Pierce, who grew up in Freedom and qualified for ProRodeo’s National Championship by finishing second in the Prairie Circuit, made up of contestants and rodeos in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. “He ran hard; he turned hard. I felt like that was a better run than he made at Houston setting the record there.”
Pierce purchased Dillion last April, and the 12-year-old buckskin gelding carried the cowgirl to her first qualifications to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and the RNCFR. In Las Vegas this past December, Pierce set the arena record with a 13.46-second run in the fourth go-round. She won $138,000 in 2011, most of which came while riding Dillion.
She then posted the fastest run at RodeoHouston two weeks ago and finished second at the largest regular-season rodeo in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. The $27,200 she won inside Reliant Stadium pushed Pierce to the No. 1 spot in the world standings. Her run Saturday night in historic State Fair Arena is just further proof that the tandem is working quite well together.
“I think he’s one of the phenomenal horses out there,” Pierce said. “I’m blessed to have him. I think he and I have a bond, and we work well together.”
Pierce and her husband, Steve, moved their family from Woodward to Stephenville, Texas, last fall, but she is quite proud of her Oklahoma roots.
“It’s exciting to be here,” she said. “To be the top two in the circuit is tough to do anyway, and the Prairie Circuit is one of the toughest. It’s great to be back in Oklahoma.
“I know I had lots of family and friends from home who were out there cheering for me.”
Pierce finished the first round in 15.52, which put her in a tie for fourth place; that was worth $1,303. With her run Saturday, she has earned more than $10,000 in two runs. She admitted that things just didn’t go right for her or Dillion on Thursday night.
“Dillion worked great tonight,” she said. “I thought, I’m going to quit trying to ride him and just let him do what he does, and it worked.”