Cheyanne McCartney is the 2023 NFBR Average Champion following 10 go-rounds of competition, roping nine of 10 calves in 32.2 seconds, and winning a total of $24,581 in Las Vegas.
On her third trip to the NFBR, McCartney (formerly Guillory) was aiming for average glory as No. 1 in the world Shelby Boisjoli powered ahead of the rest in the world standings.
“I wanted to do well in the average, but it’s also a situation where you don’t want to lay up and make every run for the average,” McCartney, 26, said. “You still want to hit the barrier, take your first throw and run smart. This win gives me so much confidence. Any time you have a good finish at the end of the year and the winter rodeos are right around the corner having momentum is a huge thing.”
McCartney kicked off her NFBR with a time of 2.6 seconds, snagging a $1,576 check. She tied for the win in Round 2 with Hali Williams and Boisjoli, roping in 2.1 seconds and earning $4,204. Round 3 and 4 brought times of 2.6 and 2.9 seconds, respectively.
Round 5 was a small bump in the road with a broken barrier, but she was sitting No. 2 in the average headed into day two of the event.
Round 6 was a 3.0-second run, and Round 7 she missed her calf.
“When I missed my seventh-round calf—that was a pretty bad shot in the foot,” McCartney said. “But I’m glad I was able to rebound and come back from that. I have a great support group that believes in me, and it makes me believe in myself.”
The final three runs were 2.3, 2.1 and 2.4-seconds.
“This wasn’t the true fashion I wanted to win the average in, I wanted to be clean on all of them, but the average title still worked out for me,” McCartney said. “Round 10 was really special because it was down to Kelsie [Domer] and I for the average win and I roped first. I just had to go make the best run that I could and was 2.4 seconds.”
McCartney explained that she approached the NFBR ‘just like any other rodeo.’ She prides herself on consistent practice year-round focusing on the fundamentals and roping to the best of her ability. That helps her keep the pinnacle of breakaway competition from getting ‘too big.’
NFBR Average Champion stats
Navigating the calves
The black beef-bred calves provided by Lanham Mangold were sorted as evenly as possible by the WPRA roping directors Lynn Smith and Christi Braudrick. The calves managed to trip some ropers up, though, with McCartney saying it was the trickiest starts she’d ever encountered at an NFBR.
“One pen was really strong, and the other pens had some strong ones mixed in there,” McCartney said. “They really knew if you were late and were going to get a start on you and run to the other end of the arena. I think scoring really came into play here and the ability to rate and use your rope.”
McCartney’s pit crew of calf analysts included husband Cody and Mia Davis, who was recording runs in the stands. Cody would study the draw and text Davis for the corresponding run. All this took place while Davis’ daughter Molly warmed up McCartney’s back-up horse in case of an emergency.
The horse that carried McCartney through the NFBR and most of the 2023 ProRodeo season was Mister Dun Star, known as “Gus.”
“He’s taken all the runs and he’s a really solid horse,” McCartney said. “He’s good in the box, he’s fast, he never takes my throw away. I have a lot of confidence in him—he gives me the chance to get my rope on a lot of calves.”
McCartney purchased Gus in late 2022 with plans to jackpot around on him and get acquainted as the NFBR approached. The two got along so well together she decided to ride him in Las Vegas and the pair were the top money earners at the NFBR, winning $27,037.
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