Playing Cowboy; Arizona Bull Rider Plays Out Childhood Game by taking the Lead at St. Paul

JC Mortensen, Paulden, Ariz., rode Corey and Lange Rodeo Co.’s Highway to Hell for 87 points, to take the lead in the bull riding after the first night of the 85th St. Paul Rodeo. Photo by Hoot Creek.

St. Paul, Ore. – When JC Mortensen was a kid, he and his younger brother would play rodeo in the living room of their Arizona home, pretending they were roping and riding bulls at the St. Paul, Oregon Rodeo.

And now, after the first night of the rodeo, he’s leading the bull riding at the famed rodeo.

The twenty-year-old cowboy rode the Corey and Lange Rodeo Co. bull Highway to Hell for 87 points to lead by three points over the number two bull rider, Tristen Hutchings, Inkom, Idaho.

The bull performed as Mortensen expected. The bull “really bucked and came around to the left. To (take the lead) here, it’s a great feeling. It’s a great rodeo, and I couldn’t be more excited right now.”

Mortensen has rodeo running through his genes. His granddad, JC Trujillo, is a PRCA world champion bareback rider and a ProRodeo Hall of Fame member, and his dad, Judd Mortensen, competed at multiple PBR Finals.

Mortensen’s younger brother Jackson is also a bull rider, finishing second in the Youth Bull Riding World Finals last year When he turns eighteen next year, he’ll be in the truck with JC, ready to compete professionally.

As kids, when they played “pretend rodeo” in the living room, they play acted they were team roping and riding bulls; their granddad insisted the kids be all-around hands, competing in multiple events. In high school, JC competed in the team roping, bareback riding and saddle bronc riding, as well as the bull riding. Bareback riding was his strong event, but then the bull riding started working out, and now that’s his only event.

Several world champions competed at St. Paul today, but only two took the lead in their respective events.

Four-time world champion Tuf Cooper leads the first round, taking a time of 7.8 seconds in the first round, held during morning slack, and the three-time and reigning world champion barrel racer, Hailey Kinsel, is at the top of the board with a 17.51 second run.

The 2019 world champion bareback rider Clayton Biglow scored 82 points; the 2018 world champion saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell got bucked off. Several team roping world champions also competed: Jade Corkill, Chad Masters and Clay Brown; none of the cowboys are at the top of the team roping scoreboard.

Other high scores and fast times from slack and the first night of rodeo at the St. Paul Rodeo are bareback rider Jacob Lees, Caldwell, Idaho (83.5); steer wrestler Jesse Brown, Baker City, Ore., in the first round (3.8) and Scott Guenthner, Provost, Alb., in the second round (4.4); tie-down roper Cooper, Decatur, Texas, in the first round (7.8) and Haven Meged, Miles City, Montana in the second round (7.6); team ropers Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas and Trey Yates, Pueblo, Colo, in the first round (4.6) and Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas and Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo. in the second round (4.3). Saddle bronc rider Logan Cook, Alto, Texas was 81.5 points to lead his event.

The second performance of the St. Paul Rodeo takes place July 1 at 7:30 pm. The rodeo continues through July 4 with performances at 7:30 pm each night and a 1:30 pm matinee on July 4. Fireworks follow each night of rodeo.

Tickets are available online at and at the gate. For more information, visit the website.

Results from the slack and evening performance, St. Paul Rodeo, June 30, 2021

Bareback Riding

1. Jacob Lees, Caldwell, Idaho 83.5 on Big Stone Rodeo’s Sassy Spurs; 2. RC Landingham, Hat Creek, Calif. 82.5; 3. Clayton Biglow, Clements, Calif. 82; 4. Bodee Lammers, Stephenville, Texas 79.

Steer wrestling

1st round leaders:
1. Jesse Brown, Baker City, Ore. 3.8 seconds; 2, JD Struxness, Milan, Minn. 4.2; 3, Taz Olson, Prairie City, S.D. 4.6; 4, Kodie Jang, Townsville, Australia 4.7.

2nd round leaders:
1. Scott Guenthner, Provost, Alb. 4.4; 2, (tie) Walt Arnold, Coleman, Texas, Hunter Cure, Holliday, Texas, and Zach Jongbloed, Iowa, La. 4.5 each.

Bull riding

1. JC Mortensen, Paulden, Ariz. 87 points on Corey and Lange’s Highway to Hell; 2. Tristen Hutchings, Inkom, Idaho 84; no other qualified rides.

Tie-down roping

1st round leaders:
1. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas 7.8 seconds; 2. Haven Meged, Miles City, Mont. 8.3; 3. (tie) Ty Harris, San Angelo, Texas and Zack Jongbloed, Iowa, La. 8.7 each;

2nd round leaders:
1. Haven Meged, Miles City, Mont. 7.6 seconds; 2. Reid Zapalac, Smithville, Texas 8.5; Tyler Prcin, Alvord, Texas 8.6; 4. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, Texas 8.7.

Saddle bronc riding

1. Logan Cook, Alto, Texas 81.5 points on Big Stone Rodeo’s Rubels; 2. Chase Brooks, Deer Lodge, Mont. 81; 3. Tegan Smith, Winterset, Iowa 775; 4. Parker Fleet, Axtell, Texas 75.5.

Team roping

1st round leaders
1. Tyler Wade, Terrell, Texas/Trey Yates, Pueblo, Colo. 4.6 seconds; 2, Derrick Begay, Seba Dalkai, Ariz./Cory Petska, Marana, Ariz. 4.9; 3. Brenten Hall, Jay, Okla./Chase Tryan, Helena, Mont. 5.0; 4. Clay Smith, Broken Bow, Okla./Jade Corkill, Fallon, Nev. 5.4.

2nd round leaders
1. Colby Lovell, Madisonville, Texas/Paul Eaves, Lonedell, Mo. 4.3 seconds; 2. Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, Tenn./Joseph Harrison, Marietta, Okla. 4.4; 3. Kaleb Driggers, Hoboken, Ga./Junior Nogueira, Presidente Prude, Brazil 5.0; 4. Jack Graham, Lakeview, Ore./Calgary Smith, Adams, Ore. 5.5.

Barrel racing

1. Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, Texas 17.51 seconds; 2. Emily Miller-Beisel, Weatherford, Okla. 17.62; 3. Sue Smith, Blackfoot, Idaho 17.76 seconds; 4. Sherry Cervi, Marana, Ariz. 17.82.

** All results are unofficial. For more information, visit

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