Rookie breaks through for big win at Avi River Stampede

March 8, 2012

FORT MOHAVE, Ariz. –(Courtesy of ProRodeo.com) A PRCA card holder for just three months and struggling to make ends meet, bull rider Kris Matthews and the three cowboys he’s traveling with took a 30-minute side trip to Needles, Calif., on March 3 in search of cheaper motel rates.

That sort of bargain hunting shouldn’t be necessary for a while.

Matthews, 24, put an 86-point ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Coffee Break March 4 to wrest the Avi River Stampede title away from Paul Coppini and traveling buddy Kaycee Rose by two points.

After winning $90 in his first four stops on the road – a day money check in Denver – Matthews headed home to Redwood Valley, Calif., with $1,583 and an immeasurable jolt of confidence.

“It is amazing … a great day,” Matthews said. “We drove straight over from (the rodeo in) Scottsdale and I was pretty excited to have the bull that (World Champion) Shane Proctor rode for 88 last week (at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson, Ariz.).

“I did not want to waste an opportunity like that and it felt pretty good to get it done. Right now I’m wishing I’d bought my permit when I was 18 and started going to rodeos then. I love the sense of tradition and history at PRCA rodeos. It feels great to be a part of it.”

Matthews didn’t come from a traditional rodeo background. He grew up in California timber country in Mendocino County. His parents, Kai and Keli, weren’t too keen on the idea of his climbing on 1,700-pound bucking animals and he didn’t really get started in the sport until his sophomore year of high school.

His cousin, Earl Bauer, rode bulls and introduced Matthews to the sport at his practice pen in Covelo, Calif., 70 miles north of Matthews’ home, and took on the task of mentoring.

“My parents have kind of gotten used to the idea now,” Matthews said.

The other champions at the Mojave Crossing Event Center were bareback rider Clint Cannon (83 points), steer wrestler Trevor Duhon (8.7 seconds on two head), team ropers Aaron Tsinigine and Caleb Twisselman (9.3 seconds on two head), saddle bronc rider Chase Bennett (86 points), tie-down roper Jerrad Hofstetter (18.0 seconds on two head) and barrel racer Pamela Morrison (14.58 seconds). With a second-place finish at Parada del Sol in Scottsdale, Ariz., Hofstetter had earnings of $4,405, the high total for any contestant in this weekend’s six PRCA rodeos.

Cutter Parsons won the all-around title with $1,752 competing in steer wrestling and tie-down roping.