story by Lindsay Humphrey The race for Vegas is stiff, no matter the age or experience of the competitor. Just like the pros in the […]
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Meet the Member Kami Klepac
story by Lily Weinacht
Kami Klepac of Van Vleck, Texas, qualified for her first Junior World Finals when she was just 7 years old. Today, the 9-year-old is making her third trip to Las Vegas, not only in barrels for the third consecutive year, but also pole bending for the first time. She won the junior division barrel racing at the KK Run for Vegas qualifier in Bryan, Texas, in April, stopping the clock at 15.4, and placed second in the pole bending. “Kami had a goal to qualify in poles because her favorite horse, Romeo, is her pole horse, and she was determined to take him with her to Vegas,” says Morgan Klepac, Kami’s mom. “It was good, and I was proud of myself,” adds Kami, who has qualified for the Junior World Finals at the Brazos County Expo arena in Bryan before.
Kami’s rodeo résumé also includes running barrels at The American Semi-Finals this winter after tying for first place at the 2018 All In Barrel Race in Las Vegas to qualify.
She’s grown up in the shadow of the arena, accompanying her aunt and older cousin, Jessalyn and Paisley Pierce, to rodeos until she was old enough to start competing herself.
“She was destined to be on the back of a horse,” says Morgan. “We heard about KK Run for Vegas going on and thought it would be neat, but we never dreamed she would make it. It’s 28 hours to drive. Her dad and uncle drive the horses and my sister and I fly out with the kids. It’s such a prestigious event. Kelly sets up autograph sessions for the kids and a back number ceremony and really tries to mimic the NFR. To have that at such a young age is awesome.”
Kami competes in the Texas Youth Rodeo Association, Elite Barrel Racing Productions, and WrapN3 barrel races, where Kami was the 2019 Youth Super Stakes Champion. Beyond barrel racing and pole bending, she competes in goat tying, ribbon roping as the runner, and figure 8s. During the 2018 TYRA Finals, Kami set the arena record for figure 8s with an 8.5. She uses part of her time driving to rodeos to watch videos of previous runs, which her dad, Dale Klepac, takes for her.
“I look up to my Auntie (Jessalyn). She cheers me on and helps me get better. She rides and barrel races,” explains Kami. “My favorite event is the barrels, because it’s easy and my horse is good. I practice about three days a week and my mom and dad help me with exercising and tuning my speed horses, and with tying goats.” Along with the horses she’s taking to the Junior World Finals, Romeo and her barrel horse Zoey, Kami has a pony, Cowboy, whom she ties goats off of; King, her retired pole horse; and a mare named Bella. “I have a dog, and another horse, Sassy, who’s at the trainer for barrels, and I have chickens and two goats.”
Having recently finished fourth grade at Van Vleck School, where Kami enjoys studying math, she plans to spend her summer rodeoing, as well as showing steers in 4-H. She also competes in various barrel races through the summer, and the Polk County Youth Rodeo Association in Livingston, Texas.
“Kami’s dad has a red stag he had shoulder mounted and made into a buckle shelf with a backboard, and all her buckles are on there. Her saddles are in our dining room,” says Morgan. “She’s made the (Junior NFR) short go the past two years in the barrels, so she would really like to win the championship title this year.”