TOWNSEND -- Ridger Jones isn't known to shy away from the big stage. After qualifying for the junior NFR in two consecutive years, Jones shifted his interests to bull riding, and after a long season he'll be headed back to Las Vegas to compete in the International Mini Bullriding Association's World Finals.
Jones wants to be a PBR world champion but knows that's a distant shot for the time being. Right now, he's focused on putting in what work he can to ascertain that goal.
"I want to be a world champion in the PBR and I want to be a world champion here," said Jones. "I want to ride every bull at this competition. That's my biggest goal right now, is riding a bull each day and being competitive with it."
Jones may be a world finalist in the IMBA, but he's also a regular high school student. He played football this fall, and Jones will wrestle for John O'dell and the Townsend Bulldogs this winter. Now as he's in the midst of training for this upcoming wrestling season, Jones noticed that the mentality he takes onto the mat is similar to what he's thinking as he prepares to straddle a bull.
"It's just you and the bull," said Jones. "Don't let it get in your head that you're going to go out there and wrestle -- even though that other person might be better than you. Because as soon as that gets in your head that's when you're going to lose."
While Jones will be the only one on the bull when it comes time to compete, he won't be the only member of the Jones clan riding in Las Vegas. His cousins, 10-year-old Decker, 7-year-olds Riggin and Brenner, and 9-year-old Tiber, also qualified to compete in Las Vegas at the Junior NFR. For Ridger, the opportunity to compete at the IMBA is two-fold. First, he'll have an opportunity to compete for a world title, but he'll also have an opportunity to set an example for his cousins.
"When you don't make a ride, don't look down, be mad or throw your helmet -- do the things that show bad influences to my cousins," said Jones. "That's probably the biggest thing, is not acting out after when you don't make a ride."
The IMBA World Finals start on Dec. 5 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.