At 19 years old, Clay Clayman didn’t just show up at his first JR Ironman event in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to win $20,000—he showed up to break records.
The Highlandville, Missouri, native aimed to not only win the event but set a lofty goal alongside it: He wanted to be clean. No broken barriers, no legs, no 60-second times, Clayman wanted to win in a record-setting way, and that’s exactly what he did.
Clayman turned in a new JR Ironman record of 111.2 seconds on 12 head and was penalty-free throughout the entire competition. He dominated the first and second rounds of competition for an extra $1,500, setting a second-round record in the process on Friday. In the first event of the day Saturday, a tack malfunction nearly spoiled Clayman’s momentum, but some quick thinking saved him.
“My horse started rubbing on the panels about right before the heading, not even two before me. I grabbed my tie-down and bit from my hazing horse and threw them on him. I didn’t have much bit, but we made it work,” Clayman said.
He made it work to the tune of a smooth 8.2-second run with Paden Bray on the heel side, then turned his attention to the calf roping. Dawson Price was working on closing the gap that Clayman had on the rest of the field, so Clayman decided to make a smooth run to finish in the middle of the field on his borrowed calf horse, Scooby. Scooby belongs to Mason Appleton, Clayman’s heading partner at the circuit finals. Appleton was also in attendance all weekend, helping Clayman care for horses.
With his weaker events out of the way, next up was the heeling, the event that Clayman just came off a Great Lakes Circuit Finals Qualification in. Clayman had full confidence in his header, 2017 World Champion Erich Rogers, and turned in a blistering 6.6-second run.
“In my opinion, Erich Rogers is the best header there is today, and he helped the winner last year.” Clayman said. “I didn’t know him, but I got ahold of his phone number and called him back in September.”
Qualifying for the JR Ironman by winning the World Championship JR Rodeo’s steer wrestling and all-around, but he made a horse change in the steer wrestling just before the event. His horse, Gus was just started in the bulldogging in December 2021, and Guthrie is only the third arena he’s been used at. His hazing horse, Diamond, also made his third outing at the Lazy E Arena, but Clayman’s father, John, expertly navigated the haze for him. Erich Rogers may have been helpful in the heading, but he, along with Russell Cardoza, both elected to use Clayman’s team of green horses in the bulldogging.
Clayman made a bold statement after his win by proclaiming that for his next goal: he’s gunning for the $100,000 payout at the Cinch Timed Event Championship. All-around talent runs in his blood, but his weekend in Guthrie helped the pieces click into place across the board.
“I’m a fifth-generation cowboy. My grandpa’s, uncles, my dad, they have always been all-around cowboys. Nobody has ever just worked a single event,” Clayman said. “This was my chance to prove I’m a real all-around competitor.
To Clayman, this event was about more than the title, the cash, or the prizes. The cowboy showed up in Oklahoma to prove that cowboys with his zip code could hang with the best in the world.
“There’s a lot of good people that come out of Missouri, but they all leave. Some people say you can’t make it in the team roping if you don’t have a Texas address, but I’m not leaving Missouri,” Clayman said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s about how hard you work.”
1. Clay Clayman, 111.2 on 12 head, worth $20,000
2. Dawson Price, 131.9 on 12 head, worth $5,000
3. Denton Good, 207.4 seconds on 12 head, worth $2,000
Round 3 Results
1. Dawson Price, 34.2 seconds on four head, worth $750
2. Clay Clayman, 35.2 seconds on four head, worth $250
Round 2 Results
1. Clay Clayman, 35.6 seconds on four head, worth $750
2. Dawson Price, 37.5 seconds on four head, worth $250
Round 1 Results
1. Clay Clayman, 40.4 seconds on four head, worth $750
2. Cayden Harmon, 52.3 seconds on four head, wroth $250