It’s no surprise that Travis Graves is leading the Open heeling standings on the WCRA leaderboard, by almost double the points of the next guy. After all, he and Dustin Egusquiza have been winning virtually everything this winter – and all it took was them remembering to nominate some of those rodeos they won. But it is a surprise to see a female heeler in that Top 10.

[Listen: Whitney DeSalvo on The Score]

Whitney DeSalvo sits eighth in the pro standings, right on the heels of the likes of BFI champion Buddy Hawkins, NFR average champion Paden Bray, and just behind a guy with three gold buckles named Jade Corkill.

“I nominated those ropings they had in December during the NFR, at Alvarado and Glen Rose and got a punch of points,” said DeSalvo, the world’s only female heeler with an 8 handicap. “I forgot to nominate Clay Logan’s roping, though, where me and Hope [Thompson] won the all-girl. It was really good. It was pick one/draw one for $500 a man and they added $5,000 I think, so they only had 57 teams and she and I won $5,200 a man. Plus, they had $50,000 added in the Open.”

Hope Thompson Whitney DeSalvo

DeSalvo heeling for Hope Thompson at the WCRA's Women's Rodeo World Championships in 2020.

The glory of the WCRA is that you’re awarded points for what you win, no matter what kind of competition it is – whether it’s in someone’s backyard or a stadium. Points are weighted based on the number of competitors and the purse.

“I think the WCRA is really good,” she went on. “The money they give away is crazy. They had kind of already set the bar high for breakaway, and in team roping, too, we had never had that kind of money as they offered at the Women’s Rodeo World Championships. I guess some people think the WCRA format can be hard to understand, but they’re really good about answering questions, so just call and talk to Sami Jo anytime and they’ll get you on the right track.”

DeSalvo wasn’t confused at all about nominating the places she was going to rope. The smart thing was that she went ahead and nominated ropings for two leaderboards – both for the Open toward qualifying for the Corpus Christi Major in May and also for the standings aimed at the Women’s Championships this November.

“Winning some in December put me up there in the Open standings,” she said. “I don’t really have plans for a partner at Corpus Christi. I’ll see who I could get a hold of that didn’t already have a partner. I’ve talked to a few people about who I might rope with if I get in. I’ve been asking around.” TRJ