Wilkins, Hammett finish strong at finals rodeo

Dekalb County middle school students Harley Wilkins and Joanna Hammett competed at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo last week in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Wilkins and Hammett both had outstanding seasons. They both qualified for the finals rodeo by placing the top four in their events at the Alabama State Finals Rodeo.

Wilkins is 12-years old and is a sixth-grader at Plainview. She rode her horse Mitzy in the pole bending and barrel racing events. She also qualified to compete in the rifle shooting.

Hammett is a seventh-grader at Geraldine. She competed in the goat tying and ribbon roping events.

Wilkins’ first event at the finals rodeo was pole bending. In her group of 27 that competed in the first day, her time of 21.424 ranked ninth. She posted a 22.475 in the barrel racing the next day. She did much better when she got another chance at barrel racing. She improved her time to 16.687 which ranked 15th in her group of 27. She didn’t do as well in her second round of pole bending and clocked a 25.72. Wilkins’ overall averages ranked well among the nation’s best. She placed 68th out of 167 in pole bending. Her barrel racing average time finished 111th out of 173 participants. She also scored 89 points in the rifle shooting event.

Hammett started off the rodeo finals in great shape when she completed the goat tying in 8.7-seconds. Her time ranked fifth in group that competed on the first day. She finished in 9.04-seconds in her second attempt. Hammett and her partner Colby Dodson competed in the ribbon roping event on the third day of the finals rodeo. They finished in 27.18-seconds. They did much better in their second attempt and clocked a 20.74. In a final run at goat tying, Hammett clocked a 9.5. Her overall average ranked 10th among the best in the nation. She was also ranked ninth in the All-Around Rookie Cowgirl standings.

Hammett said she’s proud of how she performed.

“I’m happy with how I did this year,” Hammett said. “Now I know who I’m competing against and what times I have to beat, but I know that I can do better.”

Both girls will be eligible to return to the finals rodeo next year.

Hammett said she plans to do much better next year.

“It’s really hard to watch someone else win,” Hammett said. “That makes you want to work even harder because your competitors make you better. I really want to win it next year, so I’m going to work extremely hard and practice every day.”

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