Mackenzie Huggler and Rooney in one of their barrel race runs in Las Vegas, Nev. during the Junior National Finals Rodeo.
Mackenzie Huggler and Rooney in one of their barrel race runs in Las Vegas, Nev. during the Junior National Finals Rodeo.

Mackenzie Huggler and her horse Rooney transferred their success as members of the Eatonvlle High School equestrian team to a national competition this month in Las Vegas, Nev.

In the barrel race portion of the Junior National Finals Rodeo, the duo got faster as the event unfolded. On Dec. 12, they were clocked in 14.9 seconds. Two days later, they ran a 14.5 – not fast enough to be one of the 20 finalists, but noteworthy nonetheless, said Huggler's Eatonville coach, Tira Hancock.

"She had two clean runs," Hancock said. "Hard work, consistency, persistence, patience and dedication are all words to describe Mackenzie and her quest for excellence and all the success she is having."

Huggler, who set school and district barrel race records during the 2017 Washington High School Equestrian Teams season, is among 120 competitors from the U.S. and as far away as Mexico and Australia who qualified for the junior girls’ competition in Las Vegas, where they vied for $130,000 in cash and prizes. All of the competitors are 16 years old or younger.