A few broken bones might've slowed Maverick Potter earlier in the bull riding season, but they certainly did not prevent the 18-year-old cowboy from keeping an international title in the county.
Thanks to a stellar second ride, the Waxahachie-raised cowboy bested the bull-riding field in the 27th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo to win the championship buckle Friday.
The title comes one year after he placed eighth in the IFYR in 2018, which was won by Maypearl bull rider Mason Taylor.
The IFYR commenced this past Sunday with more than 825 registered contestants and 1,304 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 six-day rodeo was held at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma and awarded more than $250,000 in prize money, championship saddles and buckles.
Though Potter did not record a score in the final ride, he was the only cowboy to cover his bulls in the short round and entered the finals in first place in the average.
"He was a good bull, he was away from my hand, a little strong, spinner – he's one of the ones you wanted," said Potter of his opening round ride of 74.0 that earned him $356.85. He then recorded a ride of 81.5 in the Go 2 — easily good enough for first in the round and netting him $1,098 — to bring his total score to 155.5.
JR Stratford, of Bronaugh, Missouri, recorded a 75.0 in Go 1 and 79.5 in Go 3 to finish second with a 154.5 total.
Potter earned $2,250.90 en route to his championship.
Following his win, Potter recalled riding his first bull at nine years old with guidance from Lonnie Austin.
The thrill of bull riding has also never wavered for Potter, even after a broken ankle that kept him out of the high school circuit during his senior year. He also now has a rod that extends from his hip to knee and has no growth plates in his ankles.
"I hobble around, but I love riding bulls," Potter said. "it gets your adrenaline going."
He also noted that the atmosphere of the IFYR is "like a pro rodeo – the crowd gets real loud," which also helps relieve any pains associated with his injuries.
Potter is the son of Patta and DK Potter and the younger brother of Dylanger.
His younger sister, Harley, placed third in Go 1 of the barrel racing event, which netted her $1,482.19. Her time of 16.506 was just short of Barnwell, South Carolina cowgirl Kenzie Cook (16.408).
Other Ellis County rodeo athletes that competed in the IFYR included Reagan Laney (Ferris, barrel racing), Mallory Witherspoon (Waxahachie, barrel racing, pole bending), Hudson Williams (Midlothian, bull riding) and Zachary Laney (Ferris, bull riding).
As for Maverick, he now turns his attention toward the professional bull riding circuit in Idaho. He also noted that his over $2,000 in earnings will either be used for those entry fees or to buy something nice for his girlfriend and fellow IFYR competitor, Mallory Witherspoon.
"I'm [also] going to Cheyenne," Potter said of his plans on the professional circuit. "That was one of my goals. My family and my girlfriend give me the motivation and support to keep going."
Interviews provided by International Finals Youth Rodeo staff.