On Feb. 19, Lincoln County’s Wylee Mitchell achieved a success that a professional barrel racer can only dream of, at just 12 years old, when she competed and placed ninth in the 2017 RFD-TV’s The American in Arlington, Texas.
Middle schooler Mitchell went through years of training in order to qualify for the RFD. Her remarkable journey began when she helped train the unruly horse Jack, which proved to be a difficult challenge.
“He was a really difficult colt to start,” Mitchell said. “He was really quirky and hard to train.”
Mitchell talked about how the young horse’s difficult behavior that forced her mother, Rita Cheeney, to see if he would work better for a family friend. This person did not get along with him either.
“When we got him back from our friend, I started riding him, and we just bonded.” Mitchell’s hard work and determination with Jack led her to place in the top 10 of the country’s toughest competitors in this year’s biggest one-day rodeo in the U.S.
However, for Mitchell to place in the national competition, she participated along with 1,900 other barrel racers in qualifying races throughout the U.S. There were only 16 races total. The race that proved successful for Mitchell was in Buckeye Ariz. She placed seventh, which qualified her for the semifinals.
The semifinals were held at the Fort Worth Stockyards, Texas on Feb. 14-17. Out of the almost 2,000 competitors that tried to make it, there were only 178 that qualified to Fort Worth.
In the first stage at the semifinals, only the top 30 continued on. Mitchell placed as 19th, which qualified her to make another run.
In the next stage she qualified in the top 10, at ninth place. They took those top 10, along with the top seven barrel racers from the NFR and top three barrel racers from the ERA, to compete in The American.
Mitchell competed at the AT&T Stadium for the $1.1 million grand prize.”It was so big, there were so many people. It was amazing. Some of the top people in the world were running against me. It was crazy.”
Mitchell did very well, placing 10th in the whole competition, awarding her $10,000 and the privilege of being part of the top ten fastest barrel racers in the world, at just 12 years old.
This great achievement can be traced back to when Mitchell was three years old and started riding horses with the support of her mother. Now, Mitchell is an award-winning barrel racer with a record of 55 belt buckles and six saddles, with a promising career ahead of her.
Congratulations to Wylee Mitchell and her family on this amazing achievement, and good luck on future competitions.
Wylee would like to thank everyone for all their support while she was in Texas. This was an amazing journey she was so thankful to have everyone cheering her on. She said the community was there with her.