Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

SPORTS >> Local rider earns high marks at nationals

IN SHORT: Bradley Bohannon, 14, turned in a personal best time and finished in the top 125 of over 1,000 contestants at the National Barrell Racing Youth World Championships in Jackson, Miss.

Leader sports writer

Bradley Bohannon of Jacksonville competed at the 2006 National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships in Jackson, Mississippi, last week. Bohannon was one of 1,023 contestants at the invitational-only barrel-racing event.

The 14-year-old finished 125th out of the over 1,000 competitors in the 13-over teen division, with a personal best time of 15.570 on 10-year-old quarter-horse Jettin’ Valentine. His time was only .08 seconds off the overall winning time, and only .

007 seconds shy of claiming a $1,000 cash and equipment prize.

“It’s always a blast down there,” Bohannon said. “There were kids from all different states there. I got to meet all kinds of new people, and make some new friends.” It was Bohannon’s third trip to Mississippi for the Youth World Championships, and his strongest showing so far in his six-year career.

“I would have to say it was probably one of my better years,” Bohannon said. “I didn’t make it back to the finals, and I probably should have, but all in all it was a good trip.” Bohannon received the invitation to the event by winning the Arkansas 05 District and Reserve Championship. Contestants came from over 45 states, as well as Panama, Canada and Italy.

The event is considered the largest youth barrel race in the world. The Augusta, Georgia, based NBHA has a worldwide membership of over 35,000, and is credited with introducing the divisional concept to barrel racing.

Along with Jettin’ Valentine, Bohannon also qualified six-year-old Hot Cass Chic for the event. He finished first in the 1D division at the Arkansas District and Reserve Championship in Pine Bluff with Jettin’ Valentine, and second in the 2D division with Hot Cass Chic to earn a spot for both horses at the national event.

Bohannon’s local stable is the Central Association at Beebe. He has competed in several events throughout the Midwest this year, placing in the 2D division of the Mid-South Nationals in Tennessee during the first week of July.

As for which of the two horses he prefers, Bohannon says he loves both, but leans slightly towards Jettin’ Valentine because of his experience in competitions. Most of Bohannon’s accolades have also occurred while competing on the 10-year-old quarter horse.

His next major competition will be at the Arkansas State Championship Horse Show on Labor Day weekend at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock. He will attempt to qualify for the barrel races, pole-bending and junior speed race at the event with both horses. He will finish the year out with a pair of shows in Oklahoma in November.