Reigning champ Alli Masters of Leon, Iowa, made a play to repeat her title as year-end and average champion at the 2022 Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo, held in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 10–12.
“With diesel prices being so expensive I wanted to circuit rodeo mainly this year,” said Masters, 21. “My goal was to win the average and the year-end.”
Masters was in the middle of the pack at No. 3 in the championship race, where less than $1,700 separated the top six breakaway ropers. For the Circuit Finals Rodeo, she had a simple strategy.
“I just figured if I knocked three calves down, it would either work out or it wouldn’t,” Masters said. “I just thought, ‘Take [the] first shot.’
“My game plan was just to try to place in the rounds,” she continued. “I knew I would have to win some money to move up in the year-end. I came in third and it was extremely tight from first to sixth. So, I tried to get into the round money but also tried to be smart enough to stay in the average, too.”
In the first round, Masters split third with a 2.8 for $408. Then, she won fourth with a 3.3 for $272 in the second round, and first with a 2.5 for $1,088 in the third round. Her time on three was 8.6 seconds, earning her $1,632 and first in the average. In all, she earned $3,401, which won her the year-end award.
To top it all off, Masters’ mount was awarded the Great Lakes Circuit Breakaway Horse of the Year. SS Hoot Gibson (“Hoot”) is a 9-year-old gelding she has owned since he was 2 and trained with her dad.
“I used him anywhere from Cheyenne’s long scores to the nod-and-ride short scores,” Masters said. “He’s honest every time. He’s got quite the personality. He’s pretty special. To win Horse of the Year on top of a great weekend was cool.”
Masters, her brother, her cousins and her rodeo coach all participated in the Circuit Finals, and each took home checks, giving them much to celebrate.
“Having everyone there to experience it with me and sharing it with family was super cool.”
Masters is now looking to make a strong comeback at the Ram NFR Open in Colorado Springs, Colorado next July.
“I’m glad to go back because I didn’t really take care of business when I was there. It didn’t go that well. So, I hope to have almost like a revenge year, knowing what it’s like now and what it takes to do good there. I’m excited to go. Hopefully, I’ll do a lot better than I did last summer.”
Masters’ goals for the upcoming season include continued success in the Great Lakes Circuit.
“Hopefully, I have good winter rodeos and then, depending on how those go, try to get in and go a little more this summer and try to make the Circuit Finals again. If the winter rodeos go good, I would like to get in a little more and try to go harder this summer and see how it goes from there.”