Come on and take a free ride
Underdog Free Riders Team Clinches Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo with Kieley Walz at the Helm

The Free Riders team featuring breakaway ropers Kieley Walz and Marybeth Beam will split a $500,000 prize at Kid Rock's Rock N Rodeo.

Kieley Walz won both of her breakaway roping matches—one in Round 1 and one in the Finals—to contribute to the WCRA Free Rider's win.
Kieley Walz won both of her breakaway roping matches—one in Round 1 and one in the Finals—to contribute to the WCRA Free Rider's win. Photo by Bullstock Media courtesy WCRA.

At the first-ever Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo the Free Riders rode lights out, winning three gold medals in Round 1 before cementing their title as champions in the final round against Misty Mountain Hop with breakaway roper Kieley Walz winning her roping match.

The team, under the leadership of four-time PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) bareback riding champion Bobby Mote and Women’s Rodeo Championship Commissioner Linsay Rosser-Sumpter, won $500,000 for the victory. 

The Free Riders were the lone team not formed by the Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo Draft, but rather via the results of the recently held WCRA Major Rodeo Corpus Christi. 

The Free Riders Team poses together after winning Kid Rock's Rock N Rodeo.
The Free Riders Team poses together after winning Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo. Photo by Bullstock Media courtesy WCRA.

“It’s really special to making it here and win, because all the hard work is paying off and it’s all coming together, finally,” Walz, 18, said. “I’m so proud of Bella, she came here and I thought all the noises, lights and everything would scare her but she took it like another practice run.”

The Free Riders were dominant in the initial bracket competition as the lone team to win multiple gold medals, let alone three. 

“I feel like our team had a bit of a chip on our shoulders,” Coach Mote said. “The other teams had all kinds of names for us like ‘Benchwarmers.’ But I knew it’s hard to qualify and win at Rodeo Corpus, and they came in on a roll with something to prove. Our plan was to make our run or make our ride every time.”

Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo Play-By-Play

They jumped to an early lead, winning the first discipline of the night, barrel racing, complements of a lightning-fast 18.197-second run by 20-year-old phenom Makenzie Mayes

The Free Riders repeated their success in the second discipline of the night inside the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys as RC Landingham won the bareback riding with an 87.5-point ride atop French Love

In the team roping, the Free Riders punched their ticket to the championship round as Douglas Rich and Jake Smith delivered a 5.42-second run to earn the discipline’s gold medal. 

The Misty Mountain Hop advanced to the championship round alongside the Free Riders by earning one gold medal, two silver medals and three third-place finishes. 

The Charmayne James and Justin McKee-led outfit earned their one victory of the night in the steer wrestling as Tyler Waguespack logged a 5.58-second run to earn himself and his team a gold medal. 

The Misty Mountain Hop’s second-place results were earned in the team roping and breakaway roping, while their bronze showings were logged in the barrel racing, saddle bronc riding and tie-down roping. 

As Rock N Roll icon Kid Rock readied to retake the stage, it all came down to seven runs in the championship round to determine whether the Free Riders or Misty Mountain Hop would be the inaugural Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo Champions. 

The Free Riders struck first, winning the bareback riding as Landingham rode Scarlett From Hell for 87.5 points, beating the Misty Mountain Hop’s Mason Clements, who rode Top Egyptian for 85 points. 

The Misty Mountain Hop, however, quickly evened the score in the steer wrestling as Waguespack delivered a 5.56-second run, outpacing the Free Riders’ no-score from Cody Doescher.They then pulled one discipline ahead of the Free Riders in the team roping as Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira posted a 5.15-second run, besting the no time from the Free Riders’ Luke Brown and Jade Corkill

The Free Riders, however, righted the momentum in the saddle bronc riding. Cole Elsher rode Tomo Jo for 81 points to beat the no score from the Misty Mountain Hop’s Stue Wright. Via the win, the scoreboard was tied 2-2. 

The Free Riders then posted a second consecutive championship round discipline win in the breakaway roping when Kieley Walz went a torrid 3.0 seconds, defeating Danielle Loman’s miss for the opposing squad. 

The Free Riders’ 3-2 lead, however, was then erased in the tie-down roping. The Misty Mountain Hop evened the score and forced the landmark team rodeo to come down to the final discipline as Caleb Smidt logged an 11.36-run, beating the no time from the Free Riders’ Quaide Hiatt

The inaugural Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo then came down to barrel racing, the very event the $1 million rodeo began with.

Repeating their success that began the night, the Free Riders’ Mayes again delivered her team a victory. Her 18.80-second run beat the 19.60-second run from the Misty Mountain Hop’s Wenda Johnson

For their win, the Free Riders earned $500,000, with each athlete and coach earning $27,778. 

Taylor Jones topped Round 3 of the 2023 CNFR with a 2.4-second run for Blue Mountain Community College in Oregon.
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