BY: KENDRA SANTOS
The odds that two teen-aged best friends and neighbors from rural Louisiana would both be here doing Royal City Roundup battle in a field filled with rodeo heroines makes them understand rdogs by definition. Cajun cowgirls Kylie Conner and Josie Conner—no relation, but from tiny neighboring Louisiana towns 15 minutes apart on a map—could not be more thrilled to be in Kansas City challenging some of the winningest champions of all time.
Barrel racer Kylie of Welsh, Louisiana, celebrated her 17th birthday right here in Kansas City yesterday. She’ll be up against a star-studded field that includes World Champion Barrel Racer Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi and Ivy Conrado Saebens, who in December won the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo aboard her palomino flash, JLo. Who better to light the 17 candles on Kylie’s cake than her 16-year-old closest gal pal, Josie, who is here breakaway roping aboard her sorrel sidekick Tonka alongside living legends the likes of JJ Hampton, Lari Dee Guy, Jackie Crawford and Kelsie Chace?
Kylie can’t think of anyone. In fact, she’s so pumped that she’s almost at a loss for words. The Conner cowgirls had their pre-game lunch today at historic Union Station right here in Kansas City Chiefs country, and are just plain old pumped about tonight’s $50,000 opportunity at this $1 million World Champions Rodeo Alliance major.
“It’s hard to explain what we’re feeling,” said Kylie, who’s fueled with filet mignon and mashed potatoes for tonight’s dash for cash aboard her own palomino ace, Fancy. “This is all just so awesome. Josie and I get to go up against the best in the world, and everybody has been so welcoming and nice. We’re just so happy to be here. I’m so happy I’m speechless.”