LAS VEGAS – Thursday night was something Mason Clements had been waiting for since he first arrived in Sin City earlier this week.
“All day long I’ve been saving my energy, my focus and my adrenaline for that first, opening ride,” said Clements, a bareback rider from Santaquin, Utah, who matched moves with Frontier Rodeo’s Times Up for 85 points to finish in a tie for third place in the opening round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I’ll tell you what; I felt so comfortable being here. Everything was right. It’s like I was born here.”
He may not have been born inside the Thomas & Mack Center, home of ProRodeo’s championship, but he was born in Las Vegas. Now 25 years old, he’s playing on the sport’s biggest stage for the first time, and he has quickly proven why he belongs here.
“I was so ready for that moment to nod my head in this arena,” said Clements, who pocketed $13,327 and moved up four spots to 11th place in the world standings. “That feeling of walking up and strapping that rigging on that horse, and feeling the atmosphere and the people. You feel the history; you feel that this is sacred ground.”
It is. Only the best compete in Las Vegas each December. As he prepared to ride, he noticed his good friend and four-time world champion, Kaycee Feild, in the stands watching him.
“It was a surreal moment,” Clements said. “I wish more than anything that he was sitting here riding with me.”
For now, though, Field will be content watching a fellow Utahan on the backs of some of the toughest bucking horses in the world. Only the top 100 bareback broncs are selected to be part of the festivities.
“I think we all stood on our toes to watch, because it was a straight-out riding contest,” Clements said. “My hat’s off to all 14 of the others; well done.”
The night featured high scores, which was a testament to both the animals and the cowboys riding them.
“This gives me more motive and confidence,” he said. “Every night is going to be the same; strap your rigging on and get that feel-good feeling. This is the place to be. You’ve driven and dreamed and worked … everything to get to this moment. Every night is brand new. It won’t ever get old.”
Clements is just living the excitement of ProRodeo’s grand championship; he should enjoy every moment.