Maelee Wade showed up to win on Sunday Oct. 8, 2023, at the WCRA’s Rodeo Carolina, roping in 2.45 seconds to post the only clean run of the Triple Crown of Rodeo round and earn a total of $25,850.
“Before I roped, I was thinking, ‘Dang, everyone has missed; do I just go catch it?’” Wade said. “But I’m not one to back off. If you’re supposed to win, you’re going to win going for it.”
There was zero hesitation with 10-year-old “Otis” in the corner, too. Formerly a calf horse, the gelding sired by High Brow Cat and out of Smart Little Lena mare Smart Moria had his game face on. He broke to the pin and got right behind their black baldy calf, while Wade threw and caught on her fourth swing, winning the $15,000 Championship purse. And, because there were no other qualified runs in the Triple Crown Round, Wade won $9,500 in ground money, too.
Wade’s way to the final round
Wade came into Rodeo Carolina seeded from her WCRA Rodeo Carolina leaderboard position, meaning she was already set to rope in the performances. She roped in 2.76 and 2.72 seconds in each of the progressive rounds, earning $350 in go round money and $1,000 in the aggregate prior to Sunday’s Triple Crown of Rodeo Round.
Maelee’s mental momentum
“This year has been really hard, mentally and physically,” Wade said. “I’ve hit rock bottom this year roping. I’ve delt with a lot of personal things and it’s affected my roping. Mentally, losing the World Championship at the IFR in January really knocked me back, because it was something I had worked so hard for. I thought that was something I needed to win to win other things.”
Wade lost the 2022 IFR to peer Kyla Matthews, who is leading the IPRA world standings once again. But thanks to the WCRA’s partnership with the IPRA, Wade can count up to $10,000 of WCRA earnings towards IPRA standings per year. She’d already won $4,100 at WCRA Cowtown Christmas, meaning she gets to count $5,900 of her Rodeo Carolina money towards the IPRA.
The $10,000 move makes for a dramatic gain in the standings. Matthews, who has $25,670 in earnings, now only bests Wade’s $25,096 by $574.
Winning cash and confidence at Rodeo Carolina
“This year I’d put way too much pressure on myself trying to get to No. 1 instead of just making the runs I needed to make and let them pay me what they’d pay me,” Wade said. “I thought I needed to step away from breakaway. Needed to give my mind a rest. This win gives me all the confidence in the world, and it’s something I truly needed.”
While Wade admits that the mental struggles aren’t fully resolved, Rodeo Carolina is a step she needed as she prepares for the next IFR in January 2024.
“And there is nothing I love more than to rope,” Wade said. “I told myself I was going to give everything I had for the rest of the event and go from there.”
Now, Wade just needs to decide which horse she’s riding at the IFR. Another large player in Wade’s challenging year was rotating between three horses, trying to get them figured out.
On the roster is Otis, Smoke (6) and Scoot (17). Smoke is a registered as On A Quick High (Bee Quick N Smooth x JS Ms Valentine x Holders Blue Boy) while Scoot is Scootin Skyline (Mr Skyline Peppy x Sugar Hai x Hai Flyin Lena).
WCRA Rodeo Carolina Triple Crown of Rodeo Round Results
|Rank||Athlete||Time||TCR Money||Ground Money|
2023 Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus Awarded to Martha Angelone
With 30,884 points, Martha Angelone overwhelmingly won the 2023 Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus, worth $25,000. This year-end award is given to the breakaway roper with the most points earned from WCRA event nominations.
“It’s awesome the WCRA gives us a chance at $25,000 during the year while we are nominating their events,” Angelone said. “They give you so many chances to win your money back and make even more. I believe even some of the women won money in the top 4 highest points had in the team roping as well. We can’t thank them enough for this opportunity.”