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Win at Lakeside rodeo gives Popko CJRA points lead


Last updated 8/30/2007 at Noon

Kerry Popko returned to the lead in the California Junior Rodeo Association’s Pole Bending points standings by winning that event August 18 at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds.

The August CJRA competition also marked the junior rodeo debut of Fallbrook’s Alyssa Clukey, who finished fifth in her first-ever CJRA Pole Bending competition.

The Pole Bending win was the second CJRA first-place showing in a row for Popko, who also won the July 14 event at Camp Pendleton’s Ace Bowen Rodeo Grounds. Popko earned 48 CJRA points for the July win to increase her season total to 110, and she entered the August event third in the Senior Girls standings behind Tyla Treasure’s 138 points and Carollann Scott’s 114 points.

The order of junior rodeo competitors is selected by random draw, and Treasure was the first of 23 entrants to ride at Lakeside. Although she completed the course in 20.30 seconds, she knocked over a pole for a five-second penalty and her time of 25.30 seconds would place her twelfth, not high enough to earn points for finishing in the top ten.

Former Bonsall resident Destri Devenport entered the Lakeside competition with 100 points. Devenport kept her poles up and finished with a time of 21.10 seconds.

After Scott made her run, her time of 22.10 seconds trailed only that of Devenport. Devenport and Scott had the two fastest times until Popko entered the arena, and with Treasure’s penalty, the ten-point difference between first and second place, and the six-point differential for the next four positions, Popko needed only to beat the time of Scott to move past the two riders ahead of her in the standings.

Popko was unaware of Scott’s time. “I don’t listen to times. I just run,” she said. “I didn’t really think about beating anybody. I just went in there and did my run. I just wanted a clean run.”

Some of Popko’s previous runs would have won the event had she kept her poles up. She noted that much of her trouble involved the fourth pole, and she tried to stay off that pole.

Popko’s horse, Banjo, took care of the time issues. “He ran very well,” Popko said.

Popko kept all of the poles up during her run and finished with a time of 20.95 seconds.

“I’m extremely proud of that run, because I’ve been having so much stuff on my hands right now,” Popko said.

The CJRA rodeo came two days before the start of Fallbrook High School classes. Popko began twelfth grade on August 20, and she is also on the Fallbrook High School volleyball team and has been practicing with that Warrior squad. “Rodeo’s not the first thing on my mind, but it was definitely there,” she said.

Popko is also active in Fallbrook High School’s Associated Student Body; she will be the Public Relations Commissioner for 2007-08. Her school activities also include the Link program in which a senior provides guidance to several freshmen. Clukey, a lifelong Fallbrook resident who spent 2006-07 as an eighth-grader at Potter Junior High School, may become one of Popko’s ninth-graders.

Clukey rode Jake, who is 13, during the Pole Bending. Her time of 22.46 seconds placed fifth in the Senior Girls division, behind the 22.29-second run of Chantal Pena and ahead of the 22.48-second time of Kaitlyn Patton. “I’m happy with how my horse did for his first time,” Clukey said.

Clukey began participation in jackpot rodeos at the age of seven. She noted that she has been improving in the jackpot rodeos. “I just decided to move up,” she said.

“It was a lot of fun. Got to meet a lot of nice people, and I’ll continue to do it in the future,” Clukey said of her junior rodeo debut.

Clukey’s first junior rodeo also included a Barrel Racing run on Chex, a five-year-old horse. Clukey’s time of 21.15 seconds placed her 14th in that event. “My horse couldn’t find the first barrel, but after that we did good,” Clukey said.

Fifth place in an event is worth 20 points in the season standings, although Clukey’s Pole Bending total is below that of the riders who competed in the year’s first six CJRA events as well as the August rodeo. The 2007 CJRA season has two more events prior to the finals which invite the season’s top ten performers in each event.

Scott’s third-place finish gave her 32 points for the Lakeside rodeo and 146 points for the season. Popko’s 48 points for August boosted her season total to 158 points while Treasure and Devenport are tied for third with 138 points apiece.

“That makes me so happy,” Popko said of taking the lead in the point standings. “All these girls I’m competing against are so good.”


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