Hawk Rodeo - CNFR Thursday Update

CASPER, Wyo. -- A conservative barrel racing run would likely have landed Kaci Smith in the short go-round on Saturday night at the College National Finals Rodeo.

Nothing about Smith has been conservative this week and after Thursday’s trip, she now sits atop the national leaderboard.

With three runs totaling 43.18 seconds, she leads the race for the national championship by 0.09 seconds.

“I really wasn’t thinking about anything, just trying to be clean, fast and just have a good run,” said Smith, a native of Purvis, Miss. “I just hope it gets better.”

None have been better than Smith thus far.

Smith finished second in the first round on Monday (14.40 seconds), followed that up with a fifth-place finish on Tuesday (14.51) and now sits second in the third round -- which wraps up Friday night -- after a 14.27-second turn of the cloverleaf.

“In Mississippi, this [sized arena] is really all we have,” Smith said of the smaller venue that sometimes irks barrel racing horses. “We don’t have big arenas.”

Smith now gets a day off on Friday before coming back for her final run, with a title on the line, Saturday night.

She’ll be joined in the short go by Hawks teammate Cullen Teller.

Roping with header Brodie Self of Tarleton State, the sophomore secured his spot on Wednesday night when they took the lead in the average with a time of 24.6 on three runs.

They lost their lead Thursday night, but sit in second place 3.5 seconds off the pace.

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