This year, Exeter High School freshman Mason Lowe added four shiny new belt buckles to his collection of over three dozen honors. Lowe's 2008 awards include a national championship title, a regional championship award and top honors at two large rodeo events.
"We spent most of the year traveling to different rodeos," said Lowe's mother, Melissa Whisenhunt. "He rode in the northeast region of Oklahoma."
Lowe won the Pawnee, Okla., Rodeo, the Vinita, Okla., Rodeo and placed second at the Northeast Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association Championship, which qualified him for the National Junior Bull Riders Association Finals.
Although Lowe has competed in the national championship event twice before, 2008 proved to be his year. Lowe took home top honors by scoring 70, 77.5 and 72.5 at the event.
"He was the only one who rode three bulls," said Whisenhunt. "I told him that the third time is a charm. The Oklahoma stock has been more challenging for him, and he has become a better rider this year."
Winning the National Junior Bull Riders Association Finals qualifies Lowe for the 2009 Youth Bull Riders World Finals which will be held in Ft. Worth, Texas, in August.
"My goals for the next year are to win the World Finals, and try to ride all the bulls I can," said Lowe. "I just want to stay on more bulls."
In addition to earning four new buckles, Lowe's hard work drew the attention of college recruiters at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas and a production company that films documentaries on junior bull riders.
"If he gets selected, he will be followed around by a production crew from May through November of next year," said Whisenhunt. "They will even do some taping here."
In addition to competing in the World Finals next year, Lowe will enter a few National Federation of Professional Bullriders events, which he began participating in this year.
Lowe has been preparing for his rodeo career for nearly a dozen years. He began calf riding when he was 3 years old. His love of bull riding was inspired by his father, Stacy, who also competed in rodeo events.
Throughout his bull riding career, Lowe has competed in front of crowds in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He hopes his career will one day lead him to the Professional Bullriding Championship, which is held in Las Vegas, Nev., each year.