By: Julia Dondero
After the last Stampede At The E in 2020, barrel racer Mitchelle Darling’s name became synonymous with victory in the Lazy E Arena. This season, she looks to make a repeat victory in her backyard. With multiple World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) major wins already written on her resume, the Medford, Oklahoma native looks to add yet another major title to her name.
This Winter, history will be made once again as the Stampede At The E makes its highly anticipated return to The Fabulous Lazy E Arena January 3-6 2024. Among a highly competitive pack of athletes, Darling will look to make her mark and claim a piece of the $400,000 payout.
For the life-long competitor and trainer, the format of the WCRA fits perfectly into her full schedule revolving around her family and career. The dedicated wife and mother to three (two boys and a girl), has dedicated her life to pursuing her passions in and out of the arena. Prioritizing her family, the WCRA has complemented Darling’s lifestyle and allowed her to showcase her talents on one of rodeo’s largest stages.
“My family is my true focus. Competing in the WCRA has worked great for me, and the opportunity to compete for such large payouts has been a true game changer,” explained Darling, who took home both the 2019 Titletown Stampede in Green Bay Wisc. and the 2020 Stampede At The E major victories.
With over $130,000 earned in the WCRA since its inception in 2018, Darling’s journey has certainly been sweet for her and her powerhouse mare ‘Morning Traffic’, better known as ‘Martin’ to barrel racing fans nationwide. ‘Martini’ who is sired by the great barrel horse stallion ‘Freshmans Guy’ and out of ‘Morning Traffic’, has been an integral part of Darling’s success, albeit the 12-year-old palomino mare isn’t the only powerhouse in her equine lineup. With a trailer full of young talent, Darling’s lineup will be one to watch come time to run in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
In preparation for the Stampede At The E, Darling has been focused on nominating barrel races and jackpots nationwide. With goals of another WCRA major win on the line, Darling expressed her excitement for the event returning to her home state.
“I’m excited to run at another WCRA event, especially at the Lazy E. The ground is always great for barrel racers there and with large payout opportunities, I am greatly looking forward to this event in my home state” said Darling.
As the nomination period quickly draws to a close (on December 3, 2023), rodeo fans and athletes alike are gearing up for exhilarating opportunities at one of the most iconic Western sports venues in the nation.