Jacalyn Walker learned from the best — Cochise College women's coach Lynn Smith.
Saturday, the Utah Valley University cowgirl has a chance to join her among college rodeo's elite.
Walker leads the breakaway roping average and sits third in the goat tying average after completing her third run in each event Wednesday at the College National Finals Rodeo.
"At first I was nervous when I saw my draw and knew I'd be up twice (Wednesday)," Walker said, "but then I just thought of it as good practice for Saturday."
Walker has a chance to join Smith, the former coach at Central Wyoming College, as the only cowgirl to win the breakaway, the goat tying and the all-around in the same year. Smith, who went by her maiden name of Lynn Wiebe at the time, won all three while competing for the University of Wyoming in 1998.
"All of my success can be attributed to Lynn," said Walker, who rodeoed under Smith at CWC before transferring to Utah Valley. "She has taught me so much and she has such a great attitude. I look up to her and it's an honor to call her my friend.
"To think that I could do something that only she's been able to do is way exciting. It would be a dream come true if I could do it."
While Walker was quick to credit Smith for her success, she also saved some of that credit for her horse Hicky.
"I'm fortunate to have him," Walker said. "I've had him for 10 years and I get to ride him for both events."
Walker had her slowest time of the week (3.4 seconds) in breakaway, but grabbed the lead in the average with a three-run time of 8.7 seconds. Nebraska's Lindsay Adamson is second with a 9.1.
In goat tying, Walker is third (19.8) behind Eastern New Mexico's Hayden Segelke (19.3) and Chadron State College's Shelby Winchell (19.4). With all three having competed in the Central Rocky Mountain Region, they all have ties to Smith.
Segelke, who competed at Northeastern Junior College the past two years, has another connection to Smith. The junior is the two-time defending all-around champ.
While Segelke isn't competing in barrel racing at this year's college finals, she has a chance to add a third CNFR saddle to her growing collection.
"I haven't done anything crazy, but I've just made three smooth, consistent runs," she said. "It's different not being here in two events and in a way it's made it harder for me. I like competing in as many events as I can."
And even if she's not competing in barrel racing this year, that hasn't dampened Segelke's excitement for the CNFR.
"Ever since the final college rodeo of the spring I've been thinking about this," Segelke said. "I wake up thinking about it and I go to bed thinking about it."
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