(Editor’s note: Story by Ruth Nicholas/Last Chance Stampede)
HELENA- Clayton Hass loves coming to Helena.
For the second time, the Weatherford, Texas man won the steer wrestling title at the Last Chance Stampede.
He turned in a time of 3.6 seconds to tie the arena record, and become the two-time consecutive titlist.
The steer he had was the same one he drew in Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier in the week, but the steer stumbled and fell. “This is kind of a bittersweet rematch,” he said, “and it worked out in my favor.”
Hass, who has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo three times, is ranked twenty-third in the PRCA world standings and has competed in Salt Lake City twice this week, Deadwood, S.D., in Joseph, Ore., and tonight in Helena. “We’ve been all over the place,” he said.
Hass loves competing in Helena. When he and traveling partner Dakota Eldridge pulled into the parking lot, they were awed that the parking lot was full. “Dakota was like, are you sure the
rodeo doesn’t start at 7 pm?” Hass said. “I said, no, it’s 8. They’re just here for a good time.”
There’s plenty of rodeo left before the season ends on Sept. 30, and Hass and Eldridge won’t take many days off. “There’s tons of money left to be won,” he said. “We just have to bear down.”
Hass’ winning time last year was 3.7 seconds; he tied for second place in 2017 and won the all-around, taking the coveted elk ivory ring.
In the bareback riding, a Utah man walked away with the championship.
Mason Clements, Draper, Utah, scored 87 points on the Kesler Rodeo horse Candy Smile to win the championship spurs. She was the horse to have, he said. “She’s just a great horse. When she comes out there, she does her job. If you get a good mark out on her, and she does her job and you do yours, it feels great.”
Clements had an ACL and meniscus worked on in a knee and didn’t begin his rodeo season till April 1. “I just kind of eased into it,” he said. “I wanted my knee to be one hundred percent so when I came back, I didn’t have to rush, I didn’t have to panic.”
He’s ranked in the top thirty in the world, but figures there’s about $10,000 between the number thirty man and the number fifteen man, and earning $10,000 is feasible. “For as many rodeos as are going on, and as many as we are hitting, ($10,000) is just a solid week of rodeo, really.
“I’m making short targets and riding one horse at a time,” he said. “Not getting ahead of myself has been key. I’m just trying to do my job correctly and ride my horse, jump for jump.”
Clements keeps a strong mental game. “It’s important to stay confident in your craft, in your training, hit those short targets, and when the opportunity presents itself, you have to take it.”
Another man repeated his title in Helena.
Bull rider Jordan Hansen bested the field with a score of 84 points on the Kesler bull Goose Bumps to win his second Last Chance Stampede title.
He was prepared for the bull. “I’d seen him around a little but never had the chance to get on him. A lot of guys slap him (with their free hand), because he’s up and down and one of the stronger bulls. I knew if I did my part right, I should be able to get a good score and luckily things worked out for me.”
The Ponoka, Alb. man won the Helena pro rodeo two years ago, and he’d like another pair of trophy spurs like he was awarded in 2017. “They’re my favorite set,” he said. “I’d like to have two sets. The first set actually has a couple of rubies, and they’re pretty.”
Other 2019 Last Chance Stampede champions include team ropers Shawn Bessette, Great Falls, Mont. and Ike Folsom, Dillon, Mont. (4.7 seconds); saddle bronc rider Kade Bruno, Challis, Idaho (84.5 points); tie-down roper Colton Farquar, Oakdale, Calif. (8.5 seconds); and barrel racer Dona Kay Rule, Minco, Okla. (17.44 seconds).
The 2019 Miss Last Chance Stampede Queen was crowned tonight. Hunter Brewer of Helena won the title. Brewer, who is eighteen years old, will be a freshman at Montana State University-Northern this fall. She is the daughter of Walt and Heather Brewer.
The 60th annual Last Chance Stampede and Fair will be July 23-25, 2020.