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Hannah Mitchell and Stars N Strikes had to go through the Gateway of Champions twice to secure the Level 1 Non-Pro title at the NRHA Futurity. * Photo by Kelsey Pecsek Hruska.

Run-off!! Hannah Mitchell Prevails in NRHA Futurity Non-Pro

Hannah Mitchell had never competed in a run-off before, but that all changed on Friday night with Stars N Stripes at the end of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Non-Pro.

After all the horses competed, Mitchell found herself part of a three-way tie for the Level 1 Non-Pro Championship. She and her horse, Stars N Stripes, entered the Jim Norick Coliseum one last time to battle it out for the title.

“I wasn’t too nervous about it. It was nice to go last because I knew what score we had to have, but it was harder because she (Stars N Stripes) was expecting a lot more. She wasn’t as good in the run-off as her first run, but she still tried her heart out,” Mitchell shared.

In the end, it was enough, as the pair were victorious. Not only did Mitchell and Stars And Stripes win the Level 1 Non-Pro Championship, they tied for third in the Level 2, tied for fifth in Level 3, and tied for 12th in Level 4 for earnings of $27,832.

“I am so, so thrilled and so happy because about two months ago we didn’t think we would get to bring this mare here because she had an injury. I am just thankful to be here,” she said.

Stars N Stripes

Mitchell and Stars N Stripes marked a 217.5 in the preliminary round, which surprised the rider.

“It was shocking to me, honestly. I thought she had done pretty well but then they announced that score. It was amazing,” she said. By Star Spangled Whiz out of Chick N Squirt, Stars N Stripes was nominated by Hannah’s father, Stephen Mitchell, who bought the filly from Hannah’s aunt and uncle, Shawn and Shelley Gann.

“We bought her as a yearling. We sent her to Bobby Avila and he did two or three months with her as a two-year-old, and then my dad and I took her from there. That’s what makes her so special, because we did all the training on her ourselves,” she said.

Gratitude

For Mitchell, just being able to compete at the NRHA Futurity was an accomplishment. In addition to her horse’s injury, the pandemic put the entire show year in jeopardy.

“I didn’t think we’d have much of a year. I think it’s great that NRHA still put this show on. Whatever we had to do to have a show, we were happy to do it, and it’s great to be here,” she said.

Mitchell, who recently graduated from Oklahoma State University, was quick to thank the people closest to her.

“I thank God for allowing me and my family to be here and for keeping everyone safe here at the show. I thank my parents for allowing me to show this mare and pay for all the things to get here, and my little brother for all his support. I thank my aunt and uncle, Gabriel Borges, who helps us a lot, and Bobby Avila for starting her,” she said.