Smith Taking Lady Hawks Back to CNFR

BIG SPRING – After a 12 year drought, Hawk barrel racer Kaci Smith has beaten the odds and will be representing the ladies for the Hawk rodeo team this summer at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, WO.  

Smith will be the first lady to ride her way to the national finals for the Hawks since 1999 when Kim Green represented the Hawks bringing home the Reserve National Champion award in barrel racing.

Kaci Smith“Kaci is doing what Kaci does best right now,” said Greg Kernick, Howard College Rodeo Coach. “She’s done a great job throughout the entire season and has peaked at just the right time.”

The pint size powerhouse came to Howard College from her hometown of Purvis, MS. After competing in rodeo events since the age of 3, Smith wasn’t certain about her aspirations for the future.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to college or going on to find my way in the pros,” said Smith. “Then I met Coach Kernick and found out about the rodeo team here at Howard and decided to make my way to Texas and try something new.”

Being a part of a strong rodeo team has been crucial for Smith. “I love my teammates here at Howard,” said Smith. “Everyone is so supportive of each other whether we’re winning or not, and it makes riding a lot more fun that way.”

Smith is no stranger to winning and championships; after all, she won the Mississippi high school barrel racing title in two of her 4 years in high school and placed third in the other two.

Currently Smith is sitting in second place in the fiercely tough Southwest Region. She will finish no less than third place in the standings which will be enough to book the trip to Casper in June.

“Right now, Kaci is guaranteed a spot,” said Kernick. “Her performance this coming weekend will determine her final placing in the region but she’s done enough already to make her way to Casper.”

So just what does it take to make a barrel racing champion? Try a lightning fast horse (Rebel), a seasoned rider with an intensely competitive spirit (Kaci) and a supportive college rodeo team (Howard College). Check, check, check…seems like Smith’s definitely got the ingredients to put Hawk Rodeo back in the history books on the ladies side.

Smith will be joining the rest of the Hawk rodeo team this weekend as they travel to compete in the final rodeo of the regular season in Tarleton, Tx at Tarleton State University. The rodeo will be a crucial one for several other Hawks on the brink of punching their own tickets to the CNFR as well.

For more on the HC Hawk Rodeo Team and updated schedule and results, visit
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