Vicksburg teen to compete in World Cup of barrel racing, in Brazil

15-year-old Sammi Fritz and her horse Crackers. The Vicksburg teen is heading to Brazil to compete in the World Cup of Barrel Racing. (WWMT/Jessica Wheeler)

A Vicksburg teen is heading to Brazil to represent the United States in an international barrel racing competition.

Sammi Fritz, 15, leaves this week for what she is calling a trip of a lifetime - and the biggest rides of her life.

Scheduled for July 16-20, the World Cup Barrel Race for 2018 is set in Londrina, Brazil, and will include riders from 17 countries.

Sammi, a Vicksburg High School sophomore, is staying cool and calm as she heads to the international stage.

"I'm excited. I'm not that nervous, but I'm really excited,” she said.

Sammi is one of two teens in the entire country traveling to the barrel racing world cup. They were invited to compete in the worldwide event by the National Barrel Horse Association. The competition in Brazil was organized in part to push for adding barrel racing to the Olympics.

Becky Barton, who runs Raise the Bar Performance Horses, where Sammi rides, will be along for the trip. Barton also is Sammi's sister.

"I would be a mess," Barton said. "She's got a little more confidence. She can just go with the flow. I'm like the pressure would be on and I wouldn’t be able to relax. But she will have fun and I'll have fun watching her."

Fritz and her horse named Crackers make quite the team. The pair can be found at their family barn and arena in Vicksburg most days practicing for competitions.

"It's just fun,” Sammi said.

For this international competition, Sammi won't have Crackers along with her. Instead, the World Cup Barrel Race will provide everything. Sammi will ride four different horses over four days of competition.

"It's pretty hard because you don't know how they're trained," she said. "You just have to get on and just do it."

But she hopes to rise to the occasion and represent her country with pride.

"I'm just hoping that I have fun. And I'm not really worried about winning, I just want to have fun,” Sammie said.

Regarding the question of racing in the Olympics, Sammi said she's just excited to be part of the group that might pave the way for other barrel racers to compete at the international level.

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