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Bass rides and ropes his way to historic world title
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Bass rides and ropes his way to historic world title

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Statesville has a rodeo world champion, and that ain’t no bull.

South Iredell High School rising freshman Colt Bass made history June 26 in Des Moines, Iowa, becoming North Carolina’s first National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) All-Around Cowboy World Champion.

“It means a lot,” said Bass, who won $6,350 in scholarship money. “It’s a big accomplishment for the state and for me.”

The 14-year-old, who turns 15 later this month, became just the third such champion East of the Mississippi his mother, Tori, noted.

Needless to say, she and her husband are proud parents.

“That award was announced last,” Tori said. “You’re waiting. You don’t know. When they called his name it was the most amazing thing.”

Each summer, the elite cowboys and cowgirls from each of the 48 states and provinces qualify for the NJHFR, part of the National High School Rodeo Association. Roughly 1,000 competitors show off their talents in a variety of events.

Bass competed in eight: bareback steer riding, boys goat tying, bull riding, chute dogging, ribbon roping, saddle bronc steer riding, team roping and tie-down roping.

His score total for the week, June 20-26, rang up to 1,575. Ladd Gose of Lorida, Florida, was a distant second at 1,410.

“All of our rodeo family went wild,” Bass said when asked about the reaction after his name was called as the All-Around Cowboy winner. “I just kind of walked down the stairs and got my (champion’s) saddle.”

Bass joined Addi Grace Hunter of Greer, S.C., to place sixth in ribbon roping.

He placed third in bull riding and claimed the junior high world championship in saddle bronc steer riding with his first-place effort.

Specializing in one or two events won’t have you in contention for All-Around Cowboy.

Getting skilled in a wide range of events is a must and requires “practice, practice, practice,” Bass said. “Talk to those who know how to do it, get pointers from them. Then it’s about fixing what you did wrong.”

Not everything went right in Iowa.

“At first it started out not so good,” Tori Bass said. “But he kind of turned it around, performed to his potential and showed them what he could do .”

Bass referred to a pair of early hiccups.

“I bucked off my bareback steer because the rigging was not tight on both sides,” he said. “And in tie down roping, I messed up my tie and the calf got up so I got a ‘no time’ on the first run.

“The thing is, you have to remember there are more events ahead,” Bass continued. “You drove all that way. You want to succeed, not fail. You just have to keep your head in the game.”

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