Maelee Wade broke fast to get a 2.56-second catch at the WCRA Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo Thursday night Dec. 16, picking up the $1,600 round-winner check and an invitation to come back for the Showdown Round on Saturday in the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I was here and I was ready to play,” Wade said.
The 17-year-old from White, Georgia, has forgone high school competitions in favor of amateur rodeos. For her, the WCRA Cowtown Christmas has a two-fold benefit: WCRA cash and all of her earnings—up to $10,000—counting towards International Professional Rodeo Association standings. The WCRA’s partnership with the IPRA helped Wade climb the ranks to the very top this year. She is entering the International Finals Rodeo in the No. 1 position going into the January finals after setting a new regular season earnings record with $17,091.96 on the year.
Joining Wade in the Showdown Round on Saturday is Round 2’s second-place roper Catherine Clayton of Dublin, Texas. Clayton caught in 3.11 seconds for a $1,200 check.
In the Showdown Round, Wade and Clayton will join four other top-two breakaway ropers from the rounds on Wednesday and Friday along with the No. 1 seeded roper and the WPRA’s newest World Champion, Martha Angelone.
The champion of the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round Saturday night will walk away with a guaranteed $15,000 check.
Stumble Doesn’t Stop Wade
Wade couldn’t kick up much information about her calf prior to her run, so she went in with a get-it-done mindset.
“I planned to take my first shot,” Wade said. “Score sharp, rope sharp, get a good start and go for it, honestly.”
Her mount RG Cat or “Otis” was game, breaking close to the barrier and giving her a snappy stop. What neither of them expected, though, was a big stumble as they finished their run.
“It was nasty, but it happens sometimes,” Wade said.
The pair have been together for about 3 months. Otis came from Detroit, Alabama’s Blayne Saine, who trained the 9-year-old gelding.
“He did an awesome job,” Wade said. “Now, I’m blessed that I get to own him and ride him.”
Sired by the $90 million High Brow Cat and out of the Smart Little Lena mare Smart Moria, Otis’s papers read “cutting horse.” Fortunately for Wade, he’s taken well to chasing cattle down, too.
“He’s an amazing athlete, he’s done a lot for my roping,” Wade said.
Welcome to the South
According to Wade, there are plenty of opportunities to rope within a few hours of the Northern Georgia town of White.
“It’s super easy to [rodeo] Friday and Saturday and then come back home and do school when I can,” Wade said. “I’d rather rope than do school.”
For Wade, roping is everything. She plans to pass on college and buy her WPRA card when she turns 18 years old.
“Both my parents rodeoed, and I always had a rope in my hand,” Wade explained. “I ran barrels for a long time and then made my way back to the roping pen.”
WCRA Cowtown Christmas Rodeo Setup
The Cowtown Christmas Championship Rodeo is one of three WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo events, and pays out more than $360,000 over the four-day event in 2022. It also offers the potential to earn $1 million in the event of a Triple Crown hat trick.
From Dec. 14–16, each event will host 24 contestants total, broken into groups of eight per night. The top two competitors from each of the three nights’ qualifying rounds will then advance to Saturdays’ Showdown Round on Dec. 17.
There, the six qualifying go-round riders will compete alongside the No. 1 WCRA-seeded athlete in a battle for a top-three finish. Those top three competitors will then return to the arena Saturday night for the Cowtown Championship Rodeo Finals and a winning check worth $15,000.