Local teen rider blazes her own trail

McCLURE – Karly Stoltzfus says it seems only natural that she would do rodeos and pick up barrel racing like her mother.

Stoltzfus, 16, of McClure, was raised around horses and rodeos because her mother, Nickie Stoltzfus, barrel races and her father, Wayne Stoltzfus, steer wrestles. This past summer she won the National Barrel Horse Association’s Teen 2D World Championship held July 21 to 27 at the Georgia State Fairgrounds in Perry, Ga.

“I started off doing the local shows,” Stoltzfus said. “It progressed to youth rodeo, then riding at high school rodeo events, eventually leading to the NBHA series and other rodeo series.”

Stoltzfus rode a 16-year-old mare named Wild Alice, also known as Allie, which is her mother’s horse. She also races on her own horse, Resse, who is 8-years-old and Allie’s half brother.

In order to focus on her riding and training, Stoltzfus participates in cyber school.

“It allows me a little bit more freedom,” she said. ” I can come out here and ride every day, if the weather allows it.”

The barrel race pattern consists of three barrels an exhibitor must run around. If an exhibitor knocks a barrel over, it can add penalty seconds to the pattern being run. For example, the penalty could add 3 or more seconds to the exhibitor’s time, and that could be the difference between placing and not placing.

Stoltzfus competed against more than a thousand riders from across the country, and won the 2D championship[ after the teens were divided into groups. The groups are determined from the times individual exhibitors run during their pattern. For example, one rider runs a 14-second time, another runs a 15-second, while a third runs a 16; these basic times would split the large division into several smaller ones, allowing for more exhibitors to place at the national level.

Stoltzfus explained that she could have been beaten out of the championship if another rider after her would have run a faster time in her division. As it was, Stoltzfus ran her pattern in 15.183 seconds – only half a second off of the winner of the 1D group who ran a 14. 661-second pattern.

“It felt good to have my name called first in my division, about 40 people had to run after me and a lot can happen in these events,” Stoltzfus said. “My mom and I both started crying. I would not have made it this far had it not been for my trainer, Duane “Tip” Kerstetter, owner of Lewistown Cabinet Center.”

She said it has been nice to be able to make a name for herself without being overshadowed by her mother’s own accomplishments. As a result of winning her division in July, Stoltzfus won a horse trailer, saddle and $2,877 in cash.

Looking toward the future, Stoltzfus would like to go to college to become a registered nurse. She does want to continue barrel racing at the rodeo level with the hopes of qualifying to the International Professional Rodeo Association finals.

“I want to qualify for them before I am 21, that is my next goal,” Stoltzfus said.

Her next big rodeo is in January at Roanoke, Virginia.