Kassi Venturacci believes that good things happen in 3's.
The Fallon High School Rodeo team is seeking its third straight state title, and Venturacci hopes to become the first three-time all-around cowgirl in recent memory.
Both tasks look reachable.
Venturacci, who graduated from Churchill County High School June 3, credits experience for keeping her on top of the overall leaderboard.
"I've been pretty consistent, and that has helped me prepare for state finals," she said.
The first performance begins Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Yerington. Six performances will be held before the finals on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Going into the state rodeo, a three-tier points system is used. The top 16 rodeos of the season count as 50 percent of the points. The weekly performances and then the finals count for the other half.
Among the top performers from the Carson-Douglas Rodeo Club will be Keston Denny and Alyce Kugler.
The Fallon native is looking forward to becoming a three-peat. She won her first all-around cowgirl crown two years ago in a tightly contested race. Last year she had a cushion between first and second place and this year, she has almost a 200-point lead over Haylee Turley.
But Venturacci wants that return trip to the national high school rodeo next month, and she knows several days of intense practicing may play a big difference.
"Last year I practiced too much for state," she said.
Even though she won the all-round title, she didn't compete in as many events at nationals as she wanted.
Monday's workout was grueling.
"She began at 7:30 in the morning and was working all day," said Kassi's mother Toni.
Toni Venturacci said hey worked on all of her events. The Fallon teen leads the field in goat tying and is in third place in pole bending.
Toni said those two are her daughter's best events.
In breakaway and cutting, Kassi Venturacci is in eighth place and tenth in barrel racing.
Meanwhile, Sterling Lambert wants to defend his steer wrestling title form one year ago. He currently leads brothers Chad and Tony Steele of Alamo.
Tony, though, leads Chad for the all-around cowboy honors with 766 points. Chad Steele has 589.5 points, and Lambert trails by 50 points.
Unless something drastic happens to Tony Steele, the eastern Nevada cowboy should walk away with the all-around saddle.
He and his brother will be competing in five events, and Lambert is entered in two other events besides steer wresting: team roping and calf roping.
Lambert and his partner Casey Felton have been practicing their team roping intensely for the past two weeks. The two recently graduated CCHS seniors lead the state in that event with Fallon's Jade Corkill and Elko's Quinn Mori teamed together for second.
"I feel pretty good...we're practicing hard," said Lambert after a late practice this week.
Lambert said his partner and he have had more time to practice for the state rodeo.
"We haven't missed a beat." he said.
Lambert trails Corkill in calf roping, and Felton is in fourth.
See STATE RODEO - B2
Corkill's experience may help him in calf roping. The Fallon junior won the event at last year's state rodeo in Battle Mountain.
Casie Fowler, who missed most of the season because of a hand injury, has kept a close eye on the team's overall performance this year. As the rodeo club's reporter, she has seen everyone perform.
"We are doing well," she said of Fallon's season. "Elko should be our closest rival."
Elko finished second to Fallon last year.
"Fallon has the all-around best team. Kassi and Sterling and Jade have had good runs," she said.
Her sister Olie, a freshman, leads the rookie standings by almost 100 points, and Fallon has a bull rider who may be able to hang on for the eight-second ride and earn a trip to nationals.
Even though he missed half of the rodeos this season, Drake sits in fourth with 80 points. He trails second place by 15 points and third place Chad Steel by 12. Fallon has other solid performers competing this week.
Venturacci and Dylan Johnson are in third place in team roping. Chad Goings, who is also a team roper, in bunched in the top third in cal roping in 13th place.Only six points separate him from the top 10.
Casie Fowler is in tenth place in the goats followed by her sister Olie. Tosha Nunes and Tiffany Blades are down the list. Olie Fowler is in tenth in breakaway. Blades is hanging on to fourth place in barrels, just two points ahead of fifth place Haylee Turley.
The top four finishers from state advance to the nationals and fifth through tenth to the Silver State International Rodeo July 4-9.
Nevada High School Rodeo
June 15-19 at Yerington
7 a.m. Cutting
10:30 Rodeo show 1
6 p.m. Rodeo show 2
10 a.m. Rodeo show 3
6 p.m. Rodeo show 4
7 a.m. Cutting
9:30 Rodeo show 5
6 p.m. Rodeo show 6
The top four winners advance to the national finals, fifth through tenth to the Silver State International Rodeo.
8 a.m. - Cutting finals
11 a.m. - Top 15 Finals