The 26th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo came to a close Friday at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
And Maypearl bull rider, Mason Taylor, did a little more than hang around the chutes and top of the standings — he won.
Taylor followed his 81.5 first ride with an 81.5 in the championship ride for a 163.0 average a first-place finish. He earned $2,557.80 over the six-day rodeo.
Taylor entered the final round in the third position and told rodeo officials after the win that they "had a bull riding" on the final night of competition.
"We rode six out of the 15 [bulls; the last two fell off. Behind the bucking chutes, I was so nervous I couldn’t hardly spit," Taylor said. "My heart was pumping. When the gate opened, my nerves went away, and I did my business like I was supposed to."
Recalling his championship ride, Taylor said the bull bucked early and jerked him to his fingertips.
"I get my rope really scary sticky for instances like that," he added.
Taylor said he has learned the finer points of bull riding from his father, Chris, who rode bulls for 20 years. He recalled his father putting him on a sheep at the ripe age of two and Taylor has "been riding ever since."
Since turning 18, Taylor has quickly begun to make a name for himself on the Professional Bull Riders circuit, as he is currently ranked 26th in the Velocity standings.
“I’m going to go and take advantage of it," said Taylor of any opportunity he has to win a world championship he's dreamed of since the age of four. "When I’m finished with PBR, I will disappear. I don’t want to look at another bull. I want to be done by the time I’m 27 and be a cowboy.”
Taylor said Derek Rogers and his father are his ranch idols and both have helped get him to where he is at now.
Neither his mother, Angela, or either of his two sisters has ever rodeoed. One sister is a photographer and the other a boxer.
Joining Taylor in the top-15 of the bull riding standings headed into the final day were Dalton Maverick Potter and Fletcher Jowers, both of Waxahachie.
Potter finished his week in eighth place. He recorded a 79.0 score in go 1 but did not post a score in either of the final two gos. He earned $495.90 for the week.
Jowers posted a 75.0 in the first go and, like Potter, could not find a score in either of the next two rides.
Logan Jones, of Italy, did not record a score on either of his first two gos and did not qualify for the championship ride.
“These athletes gave it their all this week, proving they deserve these hard-earned titles,” said Chris Dunlap, assistant director of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center and International Finals Youth Rodeo. “With contestants from 33 states, Australia and New Zealand, the IFYR brings together the world’s top youth rodeo competitors. We would like to congratulate our champions and thank our sponsors, contestants and volunteers who made this event possible.”
The world’s richest youth rodeo awarded more than $250,000 in prize money, championship saddles and buckles on Friday after the finals performance.
The IFYR commenced with more than 850 registered contestants and 1,411 event entries. After two long-gos and 10 performances, the top 15 contestants with the highest averages from each event competed in the finals on Friday for a shot at the championships.
The International Finals Youth Rodeo, held annually since 1993, is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that presents top high school athletes with a professional rodeo. The internationally-recognized IFYR is held annually at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
In 2017, more than 886 contestants and their families traveled from 34 states as well as Australia and New Zealand to participate in the IFYR. For more information, visit IFYR.com or call (405) 275-7020.