By: Kendra Santos
The World Champions Rodeo Alliance stands behind its #AllForRodeo hashtag, and continues to pull out all the stops to raise the rodeo bar. That goes for creating additional opportunities for rodeo’s young guns, too, and if you’re a 13-19-year-old contestant with big dreams who likes the idea of cashing fat checks, you won’t want to get left behind when the $550,000 Rodeo Corpus Christi rolls into Texas beach country, complete with a $21,000 incentive side pot for Division Youth cowboys and cowgirls. Take it from two of your high school peers—Rainey Skelton and Luke Dubois—and make your way to Rodeo Corpus Christi in May!
“The perks offered by the WCRA are unmatched by any rodeo association,” said Llano, Texas high school senior Rainey Skelton, who’ll turn 18 on February 19 and won $60,000 riding her homemade palomino mare Jewel at the Women’s Rodeo World Championship last October in Las Vegas. “It’s so easy to nominate your way into competing at Corpus Christi, and the money there is just unbelievable.”
Rainey nominated youth events—including high school and junior rodeos, and jackpots—to earn a spot at Rodeo Corpus Christi last year, and plans to do it again, as there is a separate Division Youth leaderboard based on age-restricted events. Division Youth contestants compete alongside the open field in Corpus Christi, which is an amazing experience all its own, but only compete against their peers to advance into the progressive rounds, which then lead to the Showdown Round and Triple Crown of Rodeo Round.
“Participating in the DY is an easier way for youth to advance on,” Rainey said. “Last year, I advanced to the performances in the barrels and breakaway. That’s harder to do when you’re competing against all the best in the world, so why not take advantage of that chance?”
Eighteen DY athletes in five events advanced to the progressive rounds at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi last spring, and earned more than $25,000, including the DY cash up for grabs and more. Louisiana team ropers Luke Dubois and Corey Reid made it all the way to the Showdown Round, and took home $4,000 beyond the DY payoff.
Dubois is a high school senior from Church Point, Louisiana who’ll turn 19 on March 1. He and Reid were the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association state team roping champs in 2021, and plan to take aim at another trip to Corpus Christi, which in 2022 will run May 11-14.
“I thought it was so cool that they ran us all together, and we got to rope with the pros, but we had a separate Division Youth payout for us younger contestants,” Luke said. “We had the chance to win the open money, too, and we got some of it. That gave us a lot of confidence and motivation that we took with us from that rodeo.
“I love the WCRA. You can nominate whatever events you already go to, and you don’t have to go to a bunch of expensive qualifiers. Last year, I mainly nominated high school rodeos. This year, I’m going to more jackpots, so I’m nominating those.”
Luke learned about five years ago that he has an inoperable brain tumor. He was breaking in some fresh bulldogging steers when a steer hit him in the jaw and knocked him out. When he went for stitches, doctors ran a routine CT scan, which led to an MRI, which found the tumor.
“We went to St. Jude’s, which is the best hospital ever,” Luke said. “The good news is, it was an incidental finding, and the tumor hasn’t ever bothered me. I go to St. Jude’s once or twice a year now to get checked out. But so far, the tumor has stayed stable and hasn’t given me any problems. I’m always aware of it, but I’m fine.”
Luke’s a fierce competitor with big dreams, just like Rainey, and the WCRA hopes to help them and so many other young contestants reach their rodeo goals.
“The WCRA is definitely on the right track, and they’ve opened so many doors for contestants of all ages,” Rainey said. “The new money offered by the WCRA has changed people’s lives. Tacy Kay Webb is an ICU nurse, and she’s one WCRA breakaway roping win away from winning $1 million. That’s insane.”
It’s also true, as the WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo is available to any athlete who wins three-straight WCRA majors. And with victory laps at the $562,500 Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo in Salt Lake City last summer, and the $360,000 Cowtown Christmas last December, the $550,000 Rodeo Corpus Christi is where Nurse Webb will take her shot at fame, fortune and superstardom.
For more information on all things WCRA, including the nomination process, visit WCRARodeo.com.
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