Like a hot roller at the craps table, Carlee Pierce is going to keep rolling down the road from rodeo to rodeo as long as the paychecks keep coming.
And right now, the Freedom High School graduate is on a hot streak.
Pierce, 31, is now the top barrel racer in the country. She is leading the world standings after finishing second and winning $27,200 earlier this month in Houston.
At the Houston Rodeo, she came within 1/100th of a second of winning the barrel racing, which would have earned her an additional $30,000.
She already has won $68,000 since January and is a cinch to qualify for her second National Finals Rodeo this season.
Competing in her first NFR last year, Pierce set an arena record with a run of 13.46 seconds. She finished fifth in the average and fifth in the world standings.
Now, she is making her first appearance in the National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. She was second after Thursday's opening round and will make her second run Saturday.
“It's an honor just to make it,” she said of the National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes the top two barrel racers from each of 12 regions or “circuits” in the country. “It's tough to be in the top two in any circuit.”
Rodeo always was a part of Pierce's life while growing up in Freedom. But only in the last two years has she and her husband, Steve, really lived the rodeo life of constant travel and hauling horses from one rodeo to the next.