Barreling down on competition

College barrel racers rank among the best in region

Having two of the Top 5 regional barrel racers on the same team may cause bad blood to brew, but for the Laramie County Community College rodeo team that is simply not the case.

LCCC sophomore Jesse Pichler and LCCC freshman Lacey Carroll enter into the spring rodeo season ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the Central Rocky Mountain Region college standings. But the two teammates are just that, a part of a team, even though both riders do admit to a small sense of friendly competition between them.

"Definitely, we would both like to win and the other one be second," Pichler said with a chuckle.

Carroll agreed that she doesn't "make a point of 'I just want to beat Jesse.'" "I just want to do well," she remarked about her teammate Pichler. "If I don't do well, I hope that she does good for the team."

Racers allowed to use trusted steed

An advantage to barrel racing is the riders use the same horses throughout all the rodeos, an advantage on which Carroll and Pichler said they both capitalize.

Pichler has raised and trained her horse, Mercedes, for nine years now, and Carroll has trained her horse, Dude, for five years.

"Because I've trained my horse, I feel so much more rewarded when I do have a good run or a win," Carroll said with pride.

Trust between rider and horse is very important, and the bond they share with their horses is a strong one.

National ranking adds pressure

"I have a lot of trust with her. I think jumping from horse to horse would be pretty hard," Pichler said.

Pichler attributed a sense of calm to the bond between her and Mercedes. The ability to be calm is needed under the pressure of being in the Top 5 regional rankings, a pressure both riders admit to feeling.

Carroll and Pichler know being nationally ranked has added to the pressure they feel in the arena.

"The fact that I'm going in there ranked pretty high, I can't let that go to my head," Pichler said.

Even though both riders spend multiple hours a day with their horses training or getting ready for competition, they said it is only one part of rodeo.

"Half of rodeo is a mental game," Pichler said.

Riders strive for constant improvement

The mental game was an area Pichler admitted she wanted to improve. Both riders are humble in the fact that they are nationally ranked but said there is always room to improve during every practice. Improvement should be a constant goal.

"For short-term goals I just want to have a good practice every practice and end on a good run," Carroll said.

For Pichler, making the College National Final Rodeo (CNFR) would be a huge accomplishment this year, while Carroll views it more as a long-term goal for herself.

"The goal was to make it to the CNFR. If that's accomplished, I'm gonna be happy," Pichler said with a smile.

Only the Top Three riders from each region gain access into the CFNR. Pichler is currently ranked No. 2, and with only four more rodeos left in the season she said consistency will be the key to her success.

Excelling in classroom also a goal

Both riders are driven and motivated not only in rodeo but also in their schoolwork. Carroll was a 4.0 student last year while earning her national ranking, taking 18 credit hours. Carroll said school was very important to her, and in order to make the physical therapist assistant program this semester, she had to complete all 18 credits last semester, a goal she successfully accomplished.

"I didn't know what hard work was until last semester," Carroll said with a wide-eyed sigh.

Carroll has not slowed this semester, continuing to pursue her 4.0 GPA and taking on an academic workload of 17 credit hours, on top of her rodeo practices.

Neither Carroll nor Pichler is originally from Wyoming, so moving to Cheyenne from South Dakota and Montana, respectively, was a difficult transition. But a social life was the last objective for either rider, both choosing to come to LCCC for educational or athletic reasons.

"I'm pretty lame, but I like that. I stay home and get good grades and do what I love to do," Pichler said commenting on her average day.

Pichler will have a year of eligibility remaining after this year, but she is unsure if she will be returning for a third year. Carrol will return next year with "greater expectations for herself," she said.

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