Championship Monday

Collin Roland was admittedly surprised when he saw his draw for the final round of the senior bareback competition on Championship Monday at the Junior World Finals in Las Vegas. The Childersburg, Alabama, cowboy had drawn CT Rodeo’s Marie Laveau, the same horse he had scored 79 points on in the first go-round.

“I wasn’t sure what to think,” Roland said. “But she didn’t do anything different this time, just covered more ground.”

Shane Scott of Ridgefield, Washington, gets ready in the chute before his ride in the final round of the senior saddle bronc division on Monday.

That proved to be beneficial for Roland, whose 82-point ride on Marie Laveua was enough to lift him past Wacey Schalla and Kelton Maxfield to win the senior bareback title. Roland finished with 243 points on three head while Schalla was the reserve champ with 236.5 points and Maxfield third with 236.

Both Schalla (Arapaho, Oklahoma) and Maxfield (Nampa, Idaho) had gone before Roland, so he knew what he had to do.

“Just do you and be yourself,” he said of his mindset before the final ride. “It was hard to do, but that’s what I did all week. I just had to take it day to day.

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m a world champion.”

Roland was one of 12 champions crowned in three events Monday inside the Wrangler Rodeo Arena as the 2021 Junior World finals wrapped up its five-day roughstock run.

Also winning bareback titles were Layn Claxton of West, Texas, in the rookie division; Tyson Schmelzle of Gillette, Wyoming, in the junior division; and Kooper Heimburg of San Tan Valley, Arizona, in the novice division.

Caleb Tyra from Powell, Wyoming, gets ready to nod his head before competing in novice bareback Monday.

For Claxton, it was the second time in three years he won a JWF title, with both coming in impressive fashion. Three years ago, he scored 86.5 points in the final round to win the peewee bareback title. Monday, Claxton entered the final round sitting in third place, six points back of Tucker Box. The Texas bronc rider put pressure on Bo with an 80-point ride on CT Rodeo’s Black Magic. And when Box managed just 68 points that was enough to vault Claxton to the top spot.

Schmelzle didn’t have his best effort Monday – scoring 72 points on 406 Rodeo’s Teepee Creeper – but it was enough to allow him to overtake Taos Weborg of Saint Charles, South Dakota, who put pressure on Schmelzle with an 80-point ride. Schmelzle finished with 229.5 points on three head; Webord totaled 226.

“I got my job done,” Schmelzle said. “I did what I could with what I had and everything turned out all right.”

Heimburg;  TuKer Carricato of Saratoga, Wyoming; and Mason Stuller of Veneta, Oregon, put on a show in the novice division all week. In the end, though, it was Heimburg who separated himself from the pack.

Stuller, who entered the final go-round with 155.5 points, failed to mark his horse out and got a no-score. Carricato followed with a 76.5, his lowest score of the week, meaning Heimburg needed a 78.5 to get the win. Heimburg answered the bell with an 85 on American Pro Rodeo’s Hissy Fit.

Saddle Bronc

Breda, Iowa, brothers Wade and Zane Magner left their mark in Vegas.

In the rookie division, even though all five cowboys failed to cover, Wade Magner was the only rider with two marked rides during the week as he won with 151.5 points.

Zane Magner had a 68-point ride in the finals to finish 20 points clear of Aiden Lane Treetop of Fort Yates, North Dakota.

Shane Scott was bucked off short of the 8-second buzzer in the senior division, but the Ridgefield, Washington, cowboy had already secured the title with 152 points on his first two rides.

“I was pretty nervous coming into the week,” Scott said. “But I just had to go out there and focus on myself and not worry about what everybody else was doing.”

Texas cowboy Benny Proffit rides Winslow on his way to winning the novice saddle bronc division Monday.

Benny Proffit came into the final round of the novice division trailing Mason Stuller by the slimmest of margins, 160-159.5. The Canadian, Texas, cowboy put pressure on Stuller with a 68-point ride on American Pro Rodeo’s Winslow. And when Stuller was bucked off short of the buzzer Proffit was the champion.

Bull Riding

Michael Caruso made the most of his 5,000-mile trip from New Jersey to Vegas. Caruso wrapped up his impressive week with a final-round score of 83.5 points to win the 16-18 division with a three-head score of 249.5 points. That left him 12 points clear of Taylor Allen of Glynn, Louisiana.

Afterwards, Caruso was behind the chutes receiving congratulations from fellow bull riders and some fellow long-distance travelers – Caruso’s mother, father and stepfather.

New Jersey bull rider Michael Caruso is congratulated after winning the 16-18 bull riding division.

“My family means everything to me,” an emotional Caruso said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”

Earlier, Luke Mackey of Ignacio’s, Colorado, held on by the narrowest of margins to win the 14-15 division.

Hudson Bolton of Milan, Tennessee, had a 78.5-point ride – the highest score of the final round – to take the lead in the average over Mackey and Marco Rizzo of Quitman, Georgia. Mackey responded with a score of 76 to give him a three-head total of 227 points to 226.5 for Bolton. Rizzo was the last man out of the chutes but he got bucked off not long after his bull left the chute.

JW Nunn of Seminole, Texas, won the 10-11 division and Noah Lee of Azle, Texas, was the 12-13 division winner.

“This feels amazing,” Nunn said. “I’m kinda surprised that I won, but I came out here to have fun and not give up.”

Lee entered the final round trailing Elijah Jennings by one point – 162-161. Both had 90-point rides earlier in the rodeo, but it was Lee who out-dueled Jennings on Monday. He scored 79 points on his ride while Jennings had a no-score to win the world championship.

“That sounds pretty good,” Lee said with a smile. “I was pretty positive all week and I was ready for this.

“This is my first year here, but I didn’t come here to win money and stuff, I came here to have fun.”

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