Resistol Rookie of the Year Player Mason Appleton Nabs No. 2 Finish at Greeley Stampede
Mason Appleton is on an upward trajectory after a grueling, dry spring of ProRodeo with fellow rookie Cooper Freeman.
Mason Appleton sticks one on the steer as Cooper Freeman brings up the rear in Red Lodge, MT
Mason Appleton sticks one on the steer as Cooper Freeman brings up the rear in Red Lodge, MT. Photo by Avid Visuals Imagery.

When Resistol Rookie of the Year candidate Mason Appleton and heeler Cooper Freeman rolled into Greeley, Colorado, for the Greeley Stampede in late June 2023, they’d won less than $5,000 in the previous four months.

Appleton had some success earlier in 2023 at the Cinch Timed Event Junior Ironman Competition, where he finished No. 5, and he won the Central Plains Heading Championship for Western Oklahoma State College with Nicholas Lovins on the heels.

But for the 19-year-old from Chelsea, Oklahoma, the ProRodeo trail had been a grind.

That all changed at the Greeley Stampede, where Appleton and Freeman struck a rhythm—roping in 4.6, 4.7, and 9.2 for an 18.5-second aggregate; good to tie for No. 2 in the average and amassing them $10,881 in one rodeo. With the win, Appleton is sitting No. 3 in the Resistol Rookie of the Year standings with $13,534.

The long winter was over.

The Team Roping Journal caught up with Appleton as he and Freeman ran the Fourth of July gauntlet and heard about what it’s like going down the road as two rookies.

TRJ: Winning $10,881 at the Greeley Stampede was probably a high point, but have there been any low points on the rodeo trail over the Fourth?

MA: When we left the Greeley short round and were headed to Livingston for the slack,and we ran a wheel off our trailer and shredded all the lug nuts off the hub. By the time we got it all fixed and pulled into Livingston, they were trotting our steer down the arena.

TRJ: What happens when runs don’t go right?

MA: Well, they aren’t going to let us rerun them, so we just keep moving. When we roped at Belle Fourche, I kid you not it was the fastest steer I’ve ever chased. When we got back to the trailer, we were laughing about it. It’s hard not to get mad, but there is no reason to because they’re not going to let you run them again.

TRJ: What’s your mindset on the rodeo road this summer?

MA: I’m just taking it as it goes by. Entering, where the best places are to go, the best [routes] so you’re not driving back and forth. Truthfully, I’m just out here chasing steers.

TRJ: What are your goals this year?

MA: Trying to make the Prairie Circuit Finals and get into the winter rodeos—those are our goals.

TRJ: How do you and Freeman know each other?

MA: We’ve known each other for quite a while. He lives in Missouri, but he only lives an hour, hour-and-a-half from me. He has a bunch of ropings at his house and I went up there and got to know him. It’s been a good partnership so far. It’s been easy, it’s been fun. We’re both rookies just out here living the dream, as they say.

TRJ: If you’re both rookies, how do you know all the little things that come with ProRodeo experience, like the best spots?

MA: “We look at the schedule and try to plan the best we can. But I used to work for [two-time NFR qualifier] Billie Jack Saebens, and I talk to him quite a bit. We talk to several guys out here when we have busy weeks, and we need to know where to go.”

TRJ: What horses are you riding?

MA: “I’ve got a 10-year-old sorrel I got from Cowan Select Horses that I’ve been riding everywhere. He’s my good one—his name is Scooter—he scores good, he’s fun and I really like him.

Spooks serendipity pedigree
Appleton’s Scooter is always ready when he needs him.

“I bought a new horse named Joker in Casper, Wyoming, at the College Finals. I haven’t really ridden him but at two or three rodeos. But I’ve got him out here with me.”

TRJ: If you had to describe yourself as a header, what would you say?

MA: “I feel like I’m good at scoring and I catch quite a few. I’m not a super big one-header guy, I am more consistent than go-fast. “

Heading standings for Resistol Rookie of the Year

RankAthleteEarnings
1Cole Thomas$37,066
2Cutter Machado$25,739
3Mason Appleton$13,534
4Kolby Krieger$11,264
5Tate Schmidt$11,264

Heeling standings for Resistol Rookie of the Year

RankAthleteEarnings
1Cole Thomas$34,381
2Kaden Profili$28,809
3Landen Glenn$24,285
4JR Gonzales$22,197
5Cooper Freeman$19,080
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