Caroline Taylor Keeps First, Gracie Drake Follows in Cinch Ladies Heading; Voy McNeil Returns on the Heel Side
Caroline Taylor holds onto her first-place standing in the race for the 2024 USTRC Cinch Ladies year-end award.
Gracey Drake stands next to Cooper Payne, both are holding trophy buckles.
Gracie Drake and Cooper Payne wom second place in the USTRC #7 at the 2023 Guthrie Oklahoma Championships.

Top 5 Lay of the Land

Heading

Last month, Texan Caroline Taylor entered the standings by matching the 26 points that held the No. 1 heading position. Since then, Taylor handled her business to the tune of 19 points at the Albuquerque Classic in August, giving her sole ownership of the top ranking with 45 points.

That’s not all the heading news in the Top 5, though. As reported in the Resistol Jr. standings, Oklahoma’s Gracie Drake has made her presence known. In this race, her 36 points are worth No. 2 in the standings and an 8-point lead over No. 3, Audrey Trujillo.

New Mexico’s Trujillo gained a position in the Top 5 when she saw success at the Albuquerque Classic and earned 9 points to add to her previous 19. She now has a single-point lead over Top 5 newcomer Mary Margaret Smith at No. 4 with 27 points. South Carolina’s Smith held a seventh-place position last month with 15 points, but the 12 she won at August’s Southern States Classic give her a single-point edge over last month’s co-leader, Lucy Lawson, who maintains her 26 points but drops to No. 5 in the standings.

Heeling

While first and second place in the heeling standings remain unchanged in the hands of Audrey Snyder and Shayna Wimberly, New Mexico’s Voy McNeil catapulted into a 10-point tie with Wimberly for No. 2 when the reigning USTRC Cinch Ladies champion heeler won her division at the Albuquerque Classic.

Just a single point behind the second-place tie is New Mexico’s Kyra Hendren who also enters the standings after a trip to the Albuquerque Classic and, only another single point behind her is Maddie Smith, who maintains her 8 points but drops two places to No. 5 this month.

The Winners

Headers

Canutillo, Texas’ Caroline Taylor, 23, is getting it done. After rising to the top of the standings last month to match Lucy Lawson’s 26 points, she headed to the Albuquerque Classic to take control of the #13.5. There, she won both first and second place for 10 and 9 points, respectively, worth 45 points and sole occupation of the No. 1 spot.

Not out of striking distance is, Gate, Oklahoma’s Gracie Drake, whose three home-state ropings to which she can attribute her position in the standings this month. She found her sweet spot in the #8.5, which she took third in for 8 points at May’s Oklahoma Classic, seventh in for 4 points at June’s Oklahoma Championships, and second and fifth in for 9 and 6 points at the Guthrie Championships in July, where she also placed second in the #7 for 9 points. In total, Drake, who celebrated her Sweet 16 in August, rounded up 36 points to put herself in the No 2 position.

San Rafael, New Mexico’s Aubrey Trujillo broke out of a 19-point, fourth-place tie when she commandeered a second-place finish worth 9 points in the #6 at the Albuquerque Classic. The 19-year-old moves up a rank to the No. 3 position, but her lead over fourth is a scant point ahead of the 27 points held by Westminster, South Carolina’s Mary Margaret Smith.

Smith, 17, saw success at the Southern States Classic, where she took fifth-place finishes in the #9.5 and the #8.5, worth 6 points each. The 12-point gain jumped her up three spots in the standings, but it’s a tight fit at No. 4, with the No. 3 and No. 5 spots each within just one point for the month.

Heelers

Reigning 2023 USTRC Cinch Ladies champion heeler, Voy McNeil, of Bosque, New Mexico, re-enters the race with an effective win worth 10 points in the Albuquerque Classic’s #8.5. McNeil, 39, is now tied for second in the standings and is trailed closely by fellow New Mexican, Kyra Hendren, of Albuquerque. Hendren turns 18 this month and enters the standings with a second-place finish in the Albuquerque Classic #7, worth 9 points and No. 4 in the standings. TRJ

2023–2024 Cinch Ladies Leadboard showing top standings in heading and heeling.

Current USTRC or Key Card/Key Card Max membership is required to participate in the Cinch Ladies Program. Earned points begin counting at time of membership purchase thru the NFTR’s last shootout event. The season begins the Monday after the last USTRC Cinch NFTR event and ends the last day of the next USTRC Cinch NFTR event.

Ropers must enter at least one Shootout division in the USTRC NFTR to be eligible. The award will be announced at the end of the USTRC Cinch National Finals of Team Roping event.

The points breakdowns are as follows: Starting with At Home Challenge Events, ropers will earn 10 points if they win the Challenge. No other points will be awarded. At Signature Events, points will be awarded to those winning an aggregate check. It starts at First Place with 10 points, Second = 9 points, and so on as far down as the ropings are paid. During the Cinch NFTR, the placing points are simply doubled. First Place will be 20, second = 18, and so on.

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