By Kendra Santos
The World Champions Rodeo Alliance provides the payoff and the platform for rodeo athletes of all ages and aspirations to take center stage. A pair of 16-year-old cowgirls—Texas breakaway roper Alee Andrews and Oklahoma barrel racer Hazlee McKenzie—recognized the $550,000 pot of gold at Rodeo Corpus Christi 2023, and pounced on it. By not backing down against the big dogs they’re roping and running against, both have now qualified for Saturday night’s Showdown Round at the beachside American Bank Center.
“It’s just awesome that I get to compete at this level at only 16 years old,” said Alee, who’s the daughter of Pepper and James Andrews, and lives with her family in Paris, Texas. “I’m just excited to see where it takes me.”
Alee—who’s grandfather is professional stock contractor Sammy Andrews, who owned the notorious bucking bull Bodacious—is a sophomore at North Lamar High School in Paris. She and her 9-year-old black breakaway horse, Loverboy, have been busy making headlines, which also include last month’s 19 & under breakaway roping title at the USTRC Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I want to be a good person in and out of the arena, and always do the best I can,” Alee said. “The WCRA gives me the opportunity to compete on the biggest stages with the pro girls. I get to rope with (reigning World Champion Breakaway Roper) Martha Angelone on Saturday night. Without the WCRA, I wouldn’t have the chance to rope against her at 16.”
Hazlee will be running up the alley Saturday night on the back of her 11-year-old sorrel sidekick, BB.
“We got BB as a 4-year-old, when he was just halter broke,” said the 16-year-old daughter of Jason and Tera McKenzie, who’s a sophomore at Epic Charter School in their hometown of Muldrow, Oklahoma. “So we’ve kind of grown up together.”
Hazlee and BB have already built quite the rodeo resume, including winning the Oklahoma state junior high barrel racing title in 2021 and Oklahoma state high school barrel racing championship in 2022.
“I’m just excited to be at a rodeo that’s a big deal, and to have the opportunity to be in the Showdown Round,” Hazlee said. “I can’t go to the pro rodeos yet, so the WCRA is a big chance for me. To get to compete at the professional level at my age is exciting, and this rodeo pays good (the champs’ checks will be worth $15,000). I’ll be running against multiple NFR qualifiers on Saturday night. That’s just amazing.”