TUCSON, Ariz. – The first trip bareback rider Mason Clements made to La Fiesta de la Vaqueros is one he will not soon forget.
The Santaquin, Utah, cowboy left a champion with a 168-point score in the two-head average.
“I never got the opportunity to go to Tucson before one reason or another, and now I love Tucson,” said Clements, 24. “I loved it before because it was the first outdoor rodeo of the year and I was really excited to get outside and things turned out great for me.”
Clements clinch the title with an 83-point ride on Beutler & Son Rodeo’s Forward Motion in the finals.
“I had never been on him (Forward Motion) before,” Clements said. “He was kind of a little wiry in the box and you kind of had to get in there and get your hand in and do the best you could to get out on him, and it played out good for me.”
Clements set the tone for his victory with an 85-point trip on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Lightning, which tied Austin Foss for the first-round win. Clements left Tucson with $8,142 in earnings.
A year ago, Clements just missed making his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER, finishing 18th in the WEATHER GUARD® PRCA World Standings with $60,361.
Clements was within in reach of the Wrangler NFR despite missing three months of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament wakeboarding in Orlando, Fla., in March, following the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Kissimmee, Fla.
“My approach is to stay healthy and enjoy what I’m doing,” Clements said about dealing with the injury. “I need to stay physically and mentally in shape 24/7 so when Oct.1 comes, I didn’t leave anything on the table. My (right) knee finally feels like it’s getting all its strength back. There were a lot of emotions after that last rodeo when I realized I wasn’t going to make the Finals. I was frustrated and I knew the consequences of getting hurt and now I’m going to do everything in my power to make it this year.”
Now, Clements doesn’t want anything to derail him from qualifying for the WNFR in Las Vegas in December.
“I don’t even want to question it, it needs to happen, I need to make the Finals,” Clements said. “I need to quit giving excuses for not being there. I’m really confident and I feel like the trials and errors I’ve had to go through have given me more experience and there no excuse for not making it.”
Other winners at the $331,218 rodeo were all-around cowboy Erich Rogers ($9,545, tie-down roping and team roping), steer wrestler Tyler Pearson (15.9 seconds on three head), team ropers Erich Rogers/Cory Petska (12.7 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Tyler Corrington (168.5 points on two head), tie-down roper Ace Sloan (19.3 seconds on two head), barrel racer Stevi Hillman (34.95 on two runs) and bull rider Dave Mason (165 points on two head).
The $331,218 in total prize money broke the rodeo record of $327,673 set in 2009 and Curtis Cassidy earned a share of the arena record with his 3.8-second run in the first round of the steer wrestling; he is tied with four others.
For more coverage of La Fiesta de la Vaqueros, check out the March 3 issue of the ProRodeo Sports News.
Courtesy of PRCA