While many people are looking at the bright Christmas lights, a Henryetta girl is seeing the bright lights of Las Vegas.IMG 8893
Saylor Smethers is going to the junior National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and hoping to come back with a national title.
She is the daughter of Stacey Blanchett and Jimmy Smethers, jr., and will be competing in the junior barrel racing.
The always smiling teenager says this is her first time to go to the junior nationals but not the first time to be racing for a major title. In 2016, she won the Josie Junior World Championship title. She was the barrel racing winner at the Jim Shoulders Living Legends rodeo in Henryetta this past Labor Day.
IMG 8916At her home, she has two large displays containing the 23 championship buckles she has won in her young career.
”This is going to be exciting,” she said. “I have never been to Las Vegas before.” The rodeo will be held Dec. 7 through 9 in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo.
There will be a total of 120 barrel racers in two age groups. She will be competing against 60 of them in the 16 and under category. “We will be racing twice, on December 12 and 13 from 9 to 11 each morning. There’s going to be girls from all over the world there.” The rest of the time, she will be treated like a celebrity with various special events and autograph signing parties.
This will be just like the big NFR with a flag ceremony and all of the events including bull and bareback riding, steer wrestling and roping.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by these kids, and they have all earned the right to compete in Las Vegas,” said Kelly Kaminski, the event’s organizer and a two-time world champion barrel racer in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
“Each of these kids will be competing for over $130,000 in cash and prizes and a chance to earn a qualifying spot in The American Semifinals next February in Fort Worth.”
Each competitor will run the cloverleaf pattern twice, and the top 20 girls with the fastest two-run cumulative times will advance to the championship round. The girl with the fastest average time also will win an Exiss Trailer.
This is the wrap up of a busy year for the young teen. She has been going to barrel racing events and rodeos nearly every weekend. That does not interfere with her education though. She is a freshman in Epic Charter School and that allows her to keep up her studies without the need of classroom attendance. 
Her home west of Henryetta is decidedly country. A former barn, it has been renovated into living quarters for her and her mother, Stacey and step-father Jerrod. On the wall above her trophy buckles are a pair of mounted deer heads that this country girl brought down. A third deer was taken this year but has not been added to the trophy wall.
Saylor has two older sisters that are not involved in the sport.IMG 8918
This Monday, she, mom Stacey, and her step-dad Jerrod, were loading up the pickup and trailer and getting ready for the drive west. At Las Vegas they will be joined by the rest of the Team Lulu including her father Jimmy, his wife Kristin as well as grandparents and aunts and uncles cheering her on from the stands. The rodeo will also be televised live on RFD television network both days.