HEBER CITY -- Timmi Ward had a blunt assessment on not being able to participate in the 2009 Utah High School Rodeo Association State Finals.
"It sucked not being able to compete here last year; it was horrible," said the 16-year-old Timmi.
En route to last year's state finals from Riverside, Timmi and her mother, Staci, were involved in a head-on automobile collision June 7, 2009, near Smith & Edwards in Farr West.
A truck, traveling northbound, crossed the median after overcorrecting following a lane change, striking Ward's southbound car on Interstate 15 near mile marker 349.
Timmi, of the Bear River Rodeo Club, suffered a broken femur in her left leg; Staci broke her right arm and right ankle.
"I'm thankful I didn't get hurt more seriously," Timmi said. "I didn't start rodeoing again until November (2009) at St. George."
Timmi, who came into the 2010 state finals splitting fourth and fifth place in girls barrel racing with 62 points, won the first round of barrel racing with a 16.685-second run during Thursday's third performance at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds.
"Hopefully, winning the round will help after what happened last year," said Timmi, a Bear River High School junior-to-be this fall. "I'm not sitting as good as I was last year, but if I have three good runs I'll be in pretty good shape."
Timmi was atop her 16-year-old gelding Woody for Thursday's round-winning run.
"We bought him four years ago and he ran very well. He was strong today, and I'm glad to have him back. His hocks were sore, so we got them injected so they feel better."
Timmi, a two-time UHSRA State Finals qualifier, is working four events -- pole bending, breakaway roping, cutting and barrel racing -- this week.
"I've never been to the National High School Finals Rodeo, and I hope to go in barrels," she said. "If I have three good runs, I should go. I ride my horse every day but Sunday, and barrel racing is my favorite event."
The top four finishers in the 12 events at the state finals -- which continues with two performances today and concludes with Saturday's championship short round -- qualify for the 62nd annual NHSFR on July 18-24 in Gillette, Wyo.
"I have a winning horse who fits me, we work well together and this is something I'm good at," Timmi said.
The Spikers' Jacalyn Walker, who graduated last month from Fremont High where she was a four-year cheerleader, had two top-four finishes in the first round.
Walker, 17 was second in breakaway roping (3.06 seconds, just one-tenth of a second behind Carlee Dick's winning run in the rodeo's third performance) and finished fourth in goat tying (8.42).
"I'm excited to place in both events; it was fun," she said. "It was a good breakaway run. My dad, Chris, told me to be aggressive and have fun."
Walker carried an event-leading 68 points in breakaway roping into the state finals. She was sitting second in goat tying with 68 points, finishing second in that event in the Utah High School Rodeo Association in 2009.
Walker rides her 10-year-old gelding, Hicky, in both events.
"I've been running him since the eighth grade," she said. "I like it better having one horse. You don't have to change saddles or horses. Hicky is good in both events, and he knows how to get the job done.
"I practice every day but Sunday," Walker said. "We get up at 7 a.m. for practice, and we go again at night. Practice changes between roping and tying. I like both events equally, and I don't really have a favorite. I do like goat tying when things are going well."
Walker is a four-time UHSRA qualifier and will be attending Central Wyoming College in Riverton this fall on a rodeo scholarship.
"The goal is to qualify for nationals in both events," Walker said. "If I don't have fun, there is no sense doing it. This is my fourth year here, so I know what is going on and how to handle pressure.
"I don't think about sitting high in my two events," she said. I treat it like a practice run. It was nice having a day off between events. I'm excited; it will be fun on Friday."