Wister barrel racer claims world title
Published with permission from the Poteau Daily Sun
By Kim Ross
A young Wister girl clinched the top title last week during the 2013 Indian Nation Finals Rodeo, claiming the fastest time and winning the title of Junior Barrel Racer World Champion. Trisha Walden, 12, has only been competing in barrel racing for the past four years, but in that time she has claimed numerous title, trophies and cash.
According to Walden’s mother, she began riding about seven years ago and quickly began participating in pole bending, flags and other”Play Days” events. At the age of 8, Walden realized she wanted to barrel race and entered her first competitive event – the “Crash and Burn,” held in Poteau at the Phil Gardenhire Rodeo Arena. For Walden, her first competition became her first win, taking $60 home in prize money. She participated in play days the following two years and was named reserve champion both times. Last year, Walden began participating the Oklahoma Youth Rodeo Association and the conclusion of the circuit she walked away as reserve champion in barrel racing at the finals rodeo held in McAlester.
This year she joined the Indian Rodeo Association which is made up of 11 regions in the United States and Canada. Her region of competition was filled with youth from seven states. As she moved her way through the circuit she found herself in the No. 2 qualifying spot in her region for nationals.
With the help of her family, they headed out to Las Vegas to watch Walden and her horse Dago give it their best. “My daughter and son-in-law, Misti and Chris Upton, made the trip to Las Vegas possible,” said Walden’s mother Linda. “They have helped us out a lot and drove us out there and brought Dago.”
Entering the competition against 31 other racers, Walden and Dago would compete three runs. The first two were dust in the wind as the duo flew into first place to make the final run with nine other racers. With the title within reach, Walden charged the barrel with a finishing time of 14.975 to claim not only the World Championship, but a second title usually not won by the same person –the Average Winner title, and she said it was a great feeling of accomplishment.
“The victory lap was my favorite part,” said Walden. “It made me feel proud, really good.”
An honor roll student at Wister Walden finds time not only for riding, she plays basketball, is on the archery team and shows her calves.
Her uncle, who owns Wister Food Market provided a TV at the store so that the community could gather to watch Walden’s win. Her mother said those who couldn’t attend found other ways to watch and the amount of support was a wonderful thing.