ARLINGTON, Texas – The city has changed, and so has the venue, but it’s still ProRodeo’s world championship.
That’s important for Mason Clements, now a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Spanish Fork, Utah. Because of COVID-19 limitations at the NFR’s typical home in Las Vegas, the sport’s premier event has moved to Globe Life Field in Arlington.
“That felt good,” said Clements, who rode Cervi Brothers’ Ain’t No Angel for 87 points to finish in a tie for second place in the opening round of the 2020 finale. “It felt good to be in Texas, and it felt good to be at the NFR. I’m happy we’re having it, and we’ve got nine rounds to go. It’s a good start.
“I’m not jacked up about it yet. I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’ve got to keep my head down and keep the main goal in my mind.”
That goal? He wants to win the NFR average by having the best 10-ride cumulative score by the time the event concludes Dec. 12. With that, he hopes to gain enough money to walk away with the most coveted prize in the game, the Montana Silversmiths gold buckle that is awarded to world champions.
“I hadn’t been on that horse, but everyone was telling me she was going to come out of the chute and circle back tight to the left,” said Clements, 28, who attended the College of Southern Idaho on a rodeo scholarship. “She came out and was around to the right.
“You’ve still got to ride them jump for jump. You can’t bank on what someone tells you or your past experiences. I think I just did that.”
With that, he pocketed $18,192 and moved up two spots to seventh in the world standings.
“As far as building off this, it’s a great start, but my confidence is the same,” he said. “I have the vision in mind, and I have to keep that going the rest of the rounds. I’m going to take what I’ve done and be happy with what I have. It’s not over until the 10th round, so you’ve got to keep your head down and keep focused on the task at hand.”
That’s helped somewhat by the safety measures officials are taking during the pandemic. Most years, cowboys spend much of their days with appearances and other commitments. That isn’t happening this year. In addition, Globe Life Field has a seating capacity of 40,300, yet Texas is allowing just 50 percent of that to allow for social distancing.
“I’m taking advantage of it, but I miss signing autographs, meeting people and shaking hands,” Clements said. “The arena feels good and feels cool. It’s big, but I want to hear fans screaming and yelling like we hear in Las Vegas.”
The Thomas & Mack Center in the Nevada desert seats less than 18,000, but it’s packed and the roof is much lower. The sound reverberation is much different than the home of the Texas Rangers.
“This is such a great building,” he said. “It all feels NFR to me.”
That’s really all that matters.