The 32nd annual Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo wrapped up on Saturday night with champions crowned in each of eight events.
In the bareback riding, Mason Clements rode the Korkow Rodeo Co. horse Onion Ring for 87 points to win the event.
It was the second time for the two to meet. Clements, Draper, Utah, rode the horse two years ago at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), for 88.5 points to win round five.
The horse performed as well in Garden City as it did in Las Vegas at the WNFR.
“I just remember that he was a lot of fun,” Clements said. “He’s one of those horses that gives you a really good, strong start and a good mark out. He’s going to let you open up and show what you’ve got, show your style, and let you be a lot of points.”
Garden City is the ninth rodeo the 26 year-old has competed at since December. He tore an ACL at the Days of ’47 in Salt Lake City, last July. Because he couldn’t afford the time to sit out for surgery, he had it scoped, rehabbed it for six weeks, and was back to rodeo by September, with enough time to qualify for the WNFR.
Two days after the WNFR was over, he had surgery to repair it.
Clements’ return to rodeo has been very good.
“I feel stronger, more confident, and positive about every little bit of my riding than I ever have," he said. Clements finished last year in tenth place in the world.
His home life is good, too. He and longtime girlfriend Brianna Winn are about to close on the purchase of a house, and “as soon as I’m done closing on the house,” Clements said, “I’m headed to the diamond store. (Brianna) is my biggest supporter.”
In the saddle bronc riding, a Wyoming man took home the title of 2019 champ.
Chet Johnson covered the Korkow horse Boogers Pet for 82 points. The horse, a seventeen-year-old bald-faced sorrel gelding, has been selected to buck at the WNFR four times, and is a veteran.
“He’s an old campaigner,” Johnson said. “He’s a tough old horse. He likes the mud and I think he bucked even better towards the end of the ride, and the judges liked it.”
Like Clements, Johnson is coming back from injury. At a rodeo in LeDuc, Canada, in June of last year, as he was bucked off his horse, he got a stirrup caught and tore all three ligaments in his left knee. He didn’t have surgery, taking eight months to rehabilitate it.
Johnson had seriously cut his riding hand with a table saw earlier in 2018. In June, before he tore the ligaments, he had just returned to competition after the hand injury.
“I had just gotten started again, after I got in a fight with a table saw. So last year was pretty much a wash," he said.
His win in Garden City is a good start to the year for the four-time WNFR qualifier. “I felt like this is the start of my summer run. This is a great place to get going again, and I hope it takes off from here.”
Johnson, who is 38 years old, tore the three ligaments in his right knee the year prior to the left knee’s tears.
Other champions for the 32nd annual Beef Empire Days Rodeo include steer wrestler Tanner Brunner, Ramona, Kan. (4.2 seconds); team ropers Nick Sartain, Yukon, Okla. and Austin Rogers, Crescent, Okla. (5.5 seconds); tie-down roper Royce Lynch, Canyon Texas (9.3 seconds); breakaway roper Amber Coleman, Orchard, Neb. (3.20 seconds); barrel racer Tyra Kane, Weatherford, Texas (18.34 seconds); and bull rider Lon Danley Tularosa, N.M. (87 points).
Next year’s rodeo is set to run May 21-23, 2019. For more information, visit www.BeefEmpireDaysRodeo.com.