By Shelby McCamey; Photos by Cowboy Images
January 28–29, 2017 in the thriving town of Marana, Arizona, 12 youth champions received 12 Crown C Saddles at the Sherry Cervi Youth Championships barrel race. There are two age divisions; the 12 and under and the 13–18, which ran in two go-rounds Saturday and Sunday. The event celebrated its ninth year since Sherry Cervi has been able to help the next generation’s dreams come true. Although all of the girls were on various horses with different bloodlines, they all had one thing in common: they were all excited about their average wins. Cervi says one of the reasons she started this event is because she wanted to make it a “memorable weekend for the kids, and for some this is where they win their first saddle,” and that was the result for the majority of the winners this year, which, according to Cervi, was very exciting.
Juniors Win Big
The division winners for the Juniors are: 1D Lilly Nunn, 2D Brylee Banning, 3D Beryl Franks, 4D Lilly DeWitt, 5D Kennedi Stinson, and the 6D Zayla Aguilar.
Lilly Nunn aboard OBD Eclipse A Bug set the pace in the 1D by running a 16.640 during the first round, followed by a 16.723 Sunday for an aggregate time of 33.363. OBD Eclipse A Bug is by Other Brotha Daryl and out of the Easy Jet granddaughter Lil Water Bug.
Following Nunn as the 2D winner is Brylee Banning of Litchfield Park, Arizona. Banning says her favorite part of the weekend was “just being able to make a run on JoJo.” Banning ,10, says she is putting her winnings from the weekend in her savings account to pay for college.
Beryl Franks eased her way into winning the 3D saddle on her horse “Easy.”
“My parents had already done the math before, but wasn’t sure if we had calculated it correctly to know if I had really won it,” Franks said. “I was so excited when I found out we did it right.”
Lilly DeWitt took home the 4D championships riding her mom’s horse, “Tully.” DeWitt says her mom is her biggest barrel racing hero.
“She’s the one that got me started running barrels and she’s really good too.” DeWitt said. “She wins a lot of money and prizes.”
The 5D winner is Kennedi Stinson riding MC Superstarrette with a 19.091 from Saturday and a 18.350 Sunday with an average of 37.441. MC Superstarrette is by the Colonel Freckles son Master Colonel and out of Docs Superstarette, who is a granddaughter of Doc Bar.
Last but not least is Zayla Aguilar, the winner of the 6D. Not only was she the 6D champion, she was also the 6D reserve champion on her two horses “Fergie” and “Husky.”
“I was happy for my horses. I didn’t know that all of the hard work in the cold weather would help me win my first saddle,” the 8-year-old said. “I was really excited when I found out.”
From the Seniors’ age group, Dallys Casillas won the 1D, the 2D championship went to Chali Pinkston, 3D Halle Householder, 4D Alexis McGuire, 5D Madeleine Kingsland, and the 6D champion was Aliya Johnson.
Dallys Casillas rode “Harley” for an average time of 32.990 to top the 1D. Casillas says the most memorable thing during the weekend was getting to meet Sherry and running a 16.4.
“Both were pretty awesome,” Casillas said, adding another memorable moment was when she won the average. “I was very excited when I knew that we had won the average. I went in knowing that we just needed to make a clean run and do what we know how to do.”
The Texas cowgirl Chali Pinkston had no idea she was anywhere in the average of the 2D on her back-up horse Casino.
“I was too anxious to see where the mare I trained finished in the average since she had placed second in the 1D during the finals against some tough horses,” Pinkston said.
Sixteen year old Halle Householder rode Regulate N Fame, or “Penelope,” to the 3D win. Besides winning the 3D, she says making two consistent runs was the most memorable thing that happened over the weekend.
“I was pretty excited since I have never won a saddle before, but I actually asked if there was a mistake,” Householder said when she learned she had won the average.
McCuire, the Senior 4D champion jump jockeyed her mount, “Ricochet,” to the win.
“I had never even stepped on this horse before Friday so winning the saddle on a new horse was pretty cool,” McCuire said. The next D winner also jump jockeyed her way to an average saddle. Kingsland rode her sister’s horse, “Cheyenne,” for an average of 37.048, which won her the 5D championship.
Lastly, the 6D champion was Aliya Johnson aboard “Breaker.” The team ran two clean runs over the weekend for an average of 38.051.
Sherry Cervi says her personal experiences as a child grew her passion to help the next generation in the same ways she was supported and encouraged as a youth barrel racing athlete.
“When I was younger, I think about 12, I was able to compete at Martha Josey’s Junior barrel race and thought that [The Sherry Cervi Youth Championships] would be a great thing to start for the kids in the West that aren’t able to haul and compete [in such long distances],” Cervi said. “Getting to see those kids have success and to be able to be a part of it is one of the reasons I enjoy this event.”
The world champion is known to interact a lot with the kids throughout the weekend.
“I’m there for the kids…it’s not a school or a clinic,” Cervi said. “If they want an autograph or picture then they get it. I’m getting to just hang out with the kids and their parents and getting to meet people I may not normally get to meet.”
This year, Cervi says she was able to add an event to her hometown in Marana, Arizona, which pulled almost as many entries for its first year as Cervi’s California race.
Cervi has big plans for the future of the event and hopes to continue growing the race.
“I hope to keep venturing out and maybe do a couple more throughout the United States, but to keep making the two we have now really big,” Cervi said.
Shelby McCamey is a senior at Tarleton State University and avid barrel racer. Email comments on this article to [email protected].