By Lisa Byers
THE MEADVILLE TRIBUNE
In just a few days former Linesville resident Stacy Bevan, her horse and her family will begin the 16-hour trek from their home in Bellevue, Iowa to Perry, Ga. to take part in one of barrel racing’s premier events.
Bevan is one of 957 riders entered to compete in the National Barrel Horse Association’s World Championships. And the 30-year-old is going in with some pretty lofty expectations.
“I’m expecting to win,” Bevan said. “I had a pretty good weekend last week and that really built up my confidence. If I can go in and compete against those girls like I did last weekend, I’m confident I can compete against these girls.”
It was just 11 years ago that Bevan, then Stacy Watson, won her final barrel racing title at the Crawford County Fair. Bevan won the versatility class that year and was later crowned Miss Pennsylvania Cowgirl, a title that eventually led her to her home in Iowa.
The 2001 title consummated a long career by Bevan at the annual fair. Bevan, who started off competing through 4-H and the Western Pennsylvania Riding and Driving Club, said she competed at the fair every year from the time she was six years old.
And it was Kate Gatts that got it all started.
“I grew up riding horses,” Bevan said. “I started riding probably when I was five. When I was 15 years old we sold my horse. That was when Kate Gatts from Atlantic took me under her wing. She had a lot of horses and I helped them out riding them.
“She got me started in barrel racing and it was history from there.”
In 2001, Bevan left Crawford County for Iowa — a place she learned she very much enjoyed during her time on the rodeo trail as Miss Rodeo Pennsylvania. Bevan attended Kirkwood Community College and is a licensed veterinary technician.
She now owns a dog grooming business, Precious Paws, and a small horse farm, Windy Ridge Performance Horses, with her husband Justin, and is raising their two children, 6-year-old Rylee and 3-year-old Garret, who happen to be two of Bevan’s biggest fans out on the racing circuit.
“My children go with me pretty much every weekend,” Bevan said. “They get pretty upset with me if I don’t go to a race. They both ride; they both have their own ponies and stuff. It’s a family event.”
It’s something Bevan said they do two or three days a week all summer long. And Bevan is really starting to reap the benefits.
Bevan is the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s top ranked rookie in the Badlands Divisional-Circuit and recently competed at the WPRA’s World Finals in Lincoln, Neb. Bevan did not place at the event, but was just nine spots back from competing in the short go.
“Considering it was the my first competition like that, I was very impressed with how we did,” She said. “We held our own. I felt very comfortable.”
Bevan’s 6-year-old quarter horse, Lucy, led her to the impressive finish in Nebraska and may get the call at the NBHA World Finals this week as well.
“She performed really well this week,” Bevan said. “She’s younger and she hauls a little bit better.”
The nod could also go to her 16-year-old quarter horse, Roy.
Bevan still has a few days to decide.
But to date, it will be the biggest event Bevan and which ever horse she decides has ever competed in. Previously it may have been the Great Lakes Nationals in Illinois where she placed 11th overall out of 535 entries.
The NBHA finals begin Saturday and conclude Nov. 3.
Bevan is the granddaughter of Linesville residents Ron and Jeanette Phelps and Faith Watson. Bevan said she also has numerous aunts, uncles and cousins in the area. Her mother, Valerie Watson, and sister, Carlie Watson, also once resided in Linesville, but joined Bevan in Iowa shortly after her move.
“It didn’t take very long,” Bevan said. “My mom said jokingly one day to find her a job (in Iowa). Within a couple of weeks I had her a job.”
Now Mom and Carlie help provide all the help Bevan needs while on the road chasing down her dream.
“We’re all a team here,” Bevan said.
Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.