Missouri’s 19-year-old Clay Clayman is having a big year.
Coming hot off a National High School Finals Rodeo team roping championship, a Great Lake Circuit Finals qualification in the heeling and World Championship Junior Rodeo all-around and steer wrestling titles, Clayman won the first go-round of the Jr. Ironman presented by the WCRA with a time of 40.4 seconds on four head, worth $750.
“I wanted to be faster, but it worked out,” Clayman admitted.
With NFR average champ and veteran Cinch Timed Event Championship helper Paden Bray on the heel side, Clayman hickeyed a right horn in the heading and had to fish.
“It came off, I jerked him down, and as soon as he got up Paden got him,” Clayman said. “I was panicked—I tried to fish it off in my hand, and it didn’t come off so I didn’t know what to do. I thought I screwed up personally.”
Clayman survived his worst event—the tie-down roping—despite another bobble.
“My calf ran off to the right, and I left him standing,” Clayman said. “I didn’t get him blocked off good and was 14.7. Coming in, I thought if I could be 7 or 8 in the heading every time, 5 or 6 bull dogging every time, I could be 20 in the calf roping every time.”
In the heeling, Clayman made a solid 6.9-second run behind World Champion Header and perennial CTEC contender Erich Rogers, the second-fastest time of the round behind reigning champ Briar Teague’s 6.5.
Clayman’s horse felt his nod and stood straight up, leaving him way behind from the start. It was only the 18-year-old ex-head-horse’s third rodeo after Clayman sold his good bull dogging horse last fall.
“I ran down there and was glad to have the rest of the arena,” Clayman laughed. “Last night the start was fast, and I should have rode him up and back. He just jumped out of the corner and it happens sometimes.”
With two more go-rounds to go, Clayman has a 11.9-second lead on second place Cayden Harmon of Lipan, Texas, who set the arena record with a 3.9-second run in the steer wrestling.
“You know, I’ve been the first extra the last two years. I’ve always wanted to come but never have. I didn’t have a big list of winnings to show them to get invited. So when I heard I could qualify through the Junior World Championship Rodeo, I jumped at the chance.” TRJ