LAS CRUCES, N.M. – This was truly a Saturday night Justin Simon will remember for a long time.
The 26-year-old steer wrestler from Florence, Ariz., parlayed a standout three-day performance at the RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo to win the average and year-end titles on Oct. 4.
“This was a pretty big win for me for sure, and it is probably the biggest win of my career,” said Simon, who made his only other appearance at the Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo in 2008. “I’m just in awe that all this happened for me.”
He won the average with a time of 16.4 seconds on three head.
Simon was quick to credit the horse he was using – Bandit – for his success. It is owned by Christian Pettigrew, who won last year’s steer wrestling championship here at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds on Bandit.
“Steer wrestling has been a real big deal for me this year and that horse (Bandit) I’ve been riding in my opinion is the best horse in the PRCA,” Simon said. “I knew the steers would be pretty much even at (the RTCFR) and I was just really comfortable on this horse and he makes everything easy for me.”
Simon clinched the average crown with a 5.4-second run in the third round.
“Everything kind of hit me Saturday night and I was pretty nervous,” Simon said. “I had to wait for one more guy to go and I was walking up the arena and that guy didn’t do any good. I knew I won the average and then I found out I won the year-end title. It was pretty exciting. It was hard for me to believe, and this is a huge deal for me.”
In addition to steer wrestling, Simon also qualified in team roping at the RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo with header Cody Mirabal of Grants, N.M., and they finished third in the average with a 28.3-second time on three head.
“We did really well,” Simon said. “I was really happy with what were able to do.”
By virtue of winning the steer wrestling average and year-end championships, Simon earned a berth to compete in the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo on March 25-28 – the first RNCFR held at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla.
“It’s extremely exciting to get to go to the Ram National Circuit Finals,” Simon said. “I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before. I’m just ecstatic and I feel very blessed and I can’t thank Christian (Pettigrew) enough for him letting me ride his horse to help make all this happen.”
Other winners at the $102,938 rodeo were bareback rider Tony Buckman (221 points on three head), team ropers Lee Kiehne and Brian Sullivan (17.3 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Cody Taton (241 points on three head), tie-down roper Bryce Runyan (30.4 seconds on three head), barrel racer Kassidy Dennison (49.31 seconds on three head), steer roper Brent Lewis (39.1 seconds on three head) and bull rider Lon Danley (77 points on one head).
Courtesy of PRCA