By: Julia Dondero
As September fades into October, all eyes will be on the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA’s) Rodeo Carolina. As rodeo athletes and fans alike make their way eastward to the prestigious Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC, anticipation grows for one of the largest rodeos east of the Mississippi River and the copious opportunities presented.
All eyes will be on the tightly contested races and first-class competitions taking place throughout the week, as well as on the Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus Champions. This $25,000 bonus is awarded to each event’s points champion (highest points earner).
For the past ten months, athletes have been nominating events nationwide with goals of qualifying for Rodeo Carolina and capturing the Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus. For many athletes, this bonus can change the projection of their season and leave a prominent impact on their careers and lives.
For one VRQ Bonus leader, Andrew Ward, the bonus is an added motivation and opportunity to pursue his passion.
“The WCRA is invested in the rodeo world. The support for contestants is incredible and greatly aids in helping cowboys like myself make a living doing what we love,” explained the header from Edmond, Oklahoma.
Ward, who took home second place in the Team Roping with his partner and brother-in-law, Buddy Hawkins, at Rodeo Corpus Christi, will look to find success once again at a WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo major event.
“After winning second place in Corpus Christi, our eyes are on the Triple Crown of Rodeo Bonus and Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus. It’s a great opportunity, and come October, our focus will fully be on Rodeo Carolina,” explained Ward.
Ward and Hawkins entered Rodeo Carolina seeded into the Progressive Rounds, allowing them to compete for a piece of the historic $400,000+ payout.
In preparation for this event, Ward explained, “Our game plan doesn’t change. We aim to be quick and consistent throughout the week and see how it all plays out.”
In correlation with the copious Rodeo Carolina payout opportunities, the Reliance Ranches VRQ Bonus provides yet another opportunity for athletes to find success within the WCRA and pursue their rodeo passions.