If Martha Angelone wished for a surfboard and $15,000 when she blew out the candles on her birthday cake, she got her wish. The 2022 WPRA World Champion Breakaway Roper took home the WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi title on her 28th birthday, May 13, 2023.
Angelone began her birthday with working cows and babysitting. She ended it with two runs in the 2-second range to secure the $15,000 payday, which she adds will help in paying the bills.
“It helps me out a lot,” said Angelone, the Cross Junction, Virginia, native. “We’re about to hit the summer run and stuff, and I really want to try to get my truck and trailer paid off. I know that’s just a little bit of it, but it’s enough right here. Today’s my birthday, too, so it was a nice birthday present.”
Breaking it down
As the No. 1 lady in the WCRA Rodeo Corpus Christi leaderboard, Angelone was automatically seeded into the Saturday Showdown Round. The difference was key in Angelone’s Corpus success this year.
“I think I just had better horsepower this year,” the now Stephenville, Texas, resident said. “I’ve been riding two of the horses that I trained the last couple years, and it just exactly wasn’t what I needed in this stuff. And, I nominated enough to be seeded. So, all I had to do was come down here and do my job on two calves. I think that made it easier for me.”
Angelone was last to rope in the Showdown Round, and she put the finishing touches on it. She took the win with a 2.3-second run and advanced to the Triple Crown of Rodeo Round.
“I made a good, decent run,” Angelone explained. “I just ran up in the middle of my calf and made a good run, and it worked out.”
The Triple Crown of Rodeo Round got a bit more interesting. Angelone was again last to rope and, before she backed in the box, she watched as the round fell apart. With two no-times on the board, all Angelone had to do was catch. But in true Martha fashion, she went 2.03 seconds—the fastest time of the night.
“I knew I had a slower calf, and I knew he stepped to the right really good right there,” Angelone said. “So, my goal was, even though I just had to go catch, to get out of the barrier and make the best run I can. I’m not really good if I safety up. A lot of times, I’ll safety up and then mess up and top knot or something like that. So, I still have to go for it all the time.”
Angelone was riding 8-year-old Gunna Shock Ya, aka “Jesse.” Prior to 2022, Jesse was strictly a tie down horse, but when Angelone started roping on him, that changed. Last year, Angelone and Jesse took not only the 2022 Women’s Rodeo World Championship event title, but he also helped her clinch the 2022 WPRA World Title in Las Vegas.
When making her initial game plan for tonight’s final rounds, Angelone was leaning toward riding a different horse, Legend.
“I was honestly going to ride my horse Legend tonight, and then I saw what my first calf was,” Angelone said. “I knew he was a little bit slower and kind of went to the right and then back to the left. And I was like, ‘Man, Jesse will let me break it off a whole lot faster.’ Legend likes to run into his spot as hard as he can, and that’s kind of hard in these little buildings sometimes because you want to have more distance. So, I picked to ride Jesse and I’m glad I did.”
Jesse certainly helped Angelone get the win, but not without a few nerves.
“Honestly, I felt like he was a little nervous in the box because I tried to ride him up a couple times and he was kind of just getting a little antsy,” Angelone said. “But he was fine.”
While Angelone is undoubtedly a standout in any pack, the ladies she roped against were well-equipped themselves. And worth noting, many were young, up-and-comers.
Three 16-year-olds and two college girls were also in contention tonight and, in Angelone’s eyes, that’s an exciting future.
“It was cool to see so many young girls in the short round, honestly,” Angelone said. “Like, there were three of us, I guess, that were a little bit older in the Showdown Round. All the other ones were young girls. And that’s cool to see that the young girls were nominating and stepping up in those places, and it’s just going to make our sport keep growing.”
In Angelone’s near future, she is seeded into the Showdown Round at the 2023 WRWC in Fort Worth next week. She plans to continue nominating for Rodeo Carolina in October, which isn’t far from her original stomping grounds. Nominating is an easy decision for Angelone.
“I just think they’re such a great chance,” Angelone said of the ability to nominate and compete in the WCRA’s Triple Crown of Rodeo events. “A lot of them are right around here. And it’s stupid not to be able to come down here and try to win $15,000 against seven girls.”