Tru Blue Most came into this year with a checklist.
“My goal was just to make it to the finals, let my horse work and have clean runs,” the 14-year-old barrel racer from Longview, Washington, said Saturday. “And she definitely did that for me.”
That would be an understatement.
Most and Rockette won the Kelly Kaminski Run for Vegas senior barrel racing at the Junior World Finals with a three-run time of 44.40 seconds. Ainsley Philippi of Hermiston, Oregon, was the reserve champ with a 44.506.
Most began her week with a 14.721-second run in front of an appreciative crowd at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena. The volume definitely got turned up for her second run, though, as a large group of family and friends made the trip down from Washington to cheer her on. They were at full blast Saturday morning.
“That was amazing,” Most said of the support. “I have such a supportive and amazing family. I’m so grateful that they all came down to support me. They all love it just as much as I do.”
Most’s week continued an impressive run for her and Rockette; the two have been together for only seven months.
“We bought her before we even met her because it was just a gut feeling,” Most said of the Palomino. “It was an automatic, ‘This is going to work out.’
“I actually qualified for the KK Run for Vegas on my very first run on her. She’s an awesome horse. I feel like I clicked with her under the saddle right away. We just work well together.”
After finishing fourth in the first go-round, the pair were 18th in the second go with a 14.997. They put it all together Saturday, winning the short go with a 14.722 to win the world.
“It’s a tricky approach from that alley to get to that first barrel,” Most explained, “but after the first run we started to understand the approach. After the first day we started to get it down and she completely understood me and got progressively better every day.”
Most entered the short go third in the average behind Adrienne Steffen of Sisters, Oregon; and defending world champ Morgan Beckstrom of Spanish Fork, Utah. But Steffen tipped a barrel and Beckstrom had her slowest run of the week, leaving Most as the world champ.
Maybe it was her dad’s pre-run advice that pushed her to the title.
“Before her last run we stand there and give each other advice,” Josh Most said. “Before every race we have a little ritual and the advice I gave her for this race was, ‘Why don’t you use the first thing you learned, and that’s just go ride. Do what you love.’ And that’s what she did.”
The next challenge for Most and her parents is figuring out how to get all of her winnings, which includes a horse trailer, back to Washington.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to make it back yet because obviously we already have a trailer with a horse in it and everybody else flew,” Nichole Most, Tru’s mom, laughed.
Josh stepped away to chase a lead on getting the trailer home, leaving Tru to contemplate her accomplishments for the week.
“It’s an unreal experience and it’s something that I’ve dreamed of since I was five years old … this exact moment,” she said. “Right now I’m just taking it all in.
“This is definitely not as relaxing as a normal vacation, but this is the best experience of my life for sure.”
Savannah Toon of Smithville, Oklahoma, won the junior division with a three-run time of 45.098 seconds. She entered the final go-round with a two-run time of 30.145 seconds and trailed defending champ Charlie Sohrt of Manvel, Texas, who had a 30.067.
Toon had a 14.953-second run – her fastest of the week and the fastest of the final go – while Sohrt had her slowest (15.077) to give the Oklahoma cowgirl the title of world champion.
In the KK Run for Vegas pole bending, Ashlyn McCleve of Gilbert, Arizona, was sitting No 2 in the average entering the final go, but had a 20.382-second run on Jewels to finish second in the go and overtake Brianna Sharp of Brentwood, California. Sharp had won the first two go-rounds but had her slowest run of the week with a 20.918 to finish as the reserve champion.
“I just felt like I needed to make a clean run and hopefully be fast,” the 17-year-old McCleve said of her final run.
McCleve and Jewels got faster throughout the week. They finished seventh in the first go with a 20.776 and second in the second go with a 20.514 before Saturday’s winning run.
“My horse needs to see the ground to get better,” McCleve said. “After she saw the ground that first run she just got better and better.”
Channing Robinson of Mesilla Park, New Mexico, won the short go with a 20.196.