All Grown Up: Ketch Kelton Continues Family Legacy Inside Lazy E With 2023 JR Ironman Win
Ketch Kelton is following in his family footsteps and notched his first major title inside the Lazy E Arena with a record-setting 2023 JR Ironman win.
Ketch Kelton ropes as a child and now at the JR Ironman.
Ketch Kelton at the CTEC as a child versus winning the JR Ironman in 2023. Images courtesy Lazy E and the Kelton family by James Phifer.

The entire audience at the Lazy E watched a full circle moment at the JR Ironman during the weekend of the 2023 event: 17-year-old Ketch Kelton was crowned JR Ironman Champion and handed a check for $20,000 as his father, multiple-time Cinch Timed Event Championship competitor, Chance Kelton cheered him on.

“There’s been a lot of preparation and coaching behind this,” Chance said. “He’s prepared his whole life. We’re Timed Event Championship guys, this is what we do.”

Ketch Kelton competes in the steer wrestling at the 2023 JR Ironman.
Kelton went 5.0 seconds in the bulldogging, his “weakest event,” to secure his performance win in Round 2 of the JR Ironman. Lazy E photo by James Phifer.

Round-By-Round JR Ironman Recap

Kelton broke the aggregate record thanks to his stellar performance across all three rounds, blasting through 12 head in 107.4 seconds to earn the $20,000 championship. The previous record was held by the 2023 No. 2 finisher, 2022 JR Ironman Clay Clayman.

After the first round, it looked like Clayman was set to dominate the event for the second year in a row when he won the performance. However, Kelton was behind him and wrapped his first four runs in 39.7 seconds behind Clayman’s 36.3.

Kelton took his chance to move in the second round when Clayman pulled out a second loop in the tie-down roping, and never gave the Missouri cowboy the lead back. He finished in the driver’s seat and earned $750 in 32.7 seconds.

@teamropingjournal

How ya like 17-year-old Ketch Kelton? He moved to the lead yesterday at the JR Ironman, presented by @wcrarodeo at the @lazy_e_arena. Catch the final round tonight on @roping.com. #TeamRoping #TieDownRoping #SteerWrestling #Cowboy #JRIronman #RodeoTok #TimedEventChampionship

♬ How You Like That – BLACKPINK

The third round began with Ketch having barely one second lead over Clayman, but by the end he had the win no matter the outcome in the final event—the steer wrestling—due to having just over a 60-second lead on the pack, despite Clayman’s best effort with a 4.1-second dogging run.

“I told him we won it, he could take the 60 (in the bulldogging) and win it. He said ‘No way. I gotta catch him.”

Ketch’s dad and 12-time Ironman competitor Chance Kelton

Kelton sailed through all four runs in the final round and finished second in the round with a time of 35.0 seconds on four head. The round win belonged to Kreece Dearing, who finally broke up the payout domination of Kelton and Clayman with a time of 33.5 seconds on four.

In the aggregate, Clayman finished in the No. 2 position with 162.6 seconds on 12 and earned $5,000, and on his heels was Tennessee cowboy Connor Griffith with a time of 176.3 seconds, worth $2,000.

The Kid on the Paint Pony

“Longtime fans, they know who he is,” Ketch’s mom, Tammy said. “He’s the kid that used to ride the paint pony and push cattle out (during the CTEC).

Young Ketch Kelton on his iconic Paint pony at the Cinch Timed Event Championship.
Young Ketch Kelton on his iconic Paint pony at the Cinch Timed Event Championship. Image courtesy Kelton family by James Phifer.

True CTEC fans will remember young Ketch pushing cattle out of the arena on his paint pony while his father competed when he was growing up. Chance Kelton competed in 12 consecutive Cinch Timed Event Championships from 1999-2011.

“We stayed home the year he was born, so he went to his first Timed Event in 2007,” Tammy said.

That’s right. Ketch has been in the building cheering on the big guys since he was a small child, and he’s already got his sights locked in on the Ironman coming up.

“We got here and the big guys were tying steers in the arena,” Chance said. “He looked at me and said ‘Dad, can I go tie with the guys? He already wants to trip steers.”

2023 JR Ironman Aggregate Results

(See Full results here.)

Round Three (on four head)

  1. Kreece Dearing 33.5 seconds, worth $750
  2. Ketch Kelton 35.0 seconds, worth $250
  3. Conner Griffith 57.6 seconds
  4. Mason Appleton 63.5 seconds
  5. Dylan Hancock 72.9 seconds
  6. Wyatt Williams 78.2 seconds
  7. Clay Clayman 88.9 seconds
  8. Caleb Lake 101.2 seconds
  9. Evan Bottini 140.5 seconds
  10. Jake Holmes 171.4 seconds

Aggregate Results (on 12 head)

  1. Ketch Kelton, 107.4 seconds worth $20,000
  2. Clay Clayman, 162.6 seconds worth $5,000
  3. Conner Griffith, 176.3 seconds worth $2,000
  4. Dylan Hancock, 191.0 seconds
  5. Mason Appleton, 192.7 seconds
  6. Caleb Lake, 258.8 seconds
  7. Wyatt Williams, 270.0 seconds
  8. Kreece Dearing, 300.0 seconds
  9. Evan Bottinin 345.1 seconds
  10. Jake Holmes 401.1 seconds
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Ketch Kelton competes in the heading in team roping at the 2023 JR Ironman at the Lazy E Arena.
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