Schoolteacher Danni Clover and rookie Joslynn Masters took the top honors at the Great Lakes Circuit—Clover winning the average with a time of 9.4 on three head while Masters gathered up the year-end championship with $11,442 earned.
It played out at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville Nov. 9-11, 2023, where the stands were packed with rodeo fans every night.
“I couldn’t look up at the crowd,” Masters admitted. “I had to pretend I was in my arena at home because it gets really loud in there.”
Great Lakes Circuit Year-End Champion Joslynn Masters
Hailing from Mount Ayr, Iowa, Masters made her first-ever trip to the Circuit Finals count.
“I was honestly just happy to be at the Circuit Finals,” Masters said. “I was really pleased to have made it, and no matter what happened I was going to be satisfied, but I knew I had a chance to win the year-end if things went well.”
Entering the event with $8,452 won, Masters went to work aboard 8-year-old mare Bet Sheza Skeeto or “Skeeter.”
“She’s the same run every time,” Masters said. “My family calls her a gamer because she’s not the most fun to practice on, but when it’s time to rodeo, she’s ready.”
Skeeter and Masters stopped the clock in 3.2 seconds in Round 1, earning $920. Their next check came in the average, where a No. 2 finish with a time of 12.0 seconds netted them an additional $2,070, pushing their year-end total to $11,442.
“I am really proud of Skeeter,” Masters said. “I bought her three years ago from a horse sale. She’d been lightly started in the breakaway, and I finished her out. This year has been the first year she’s been going consistently.”
It’s been Masters’ first year going consistently too, after graduating college in 2022 and purchasing her ProRodeo permit. She works as a farm loan officer for the Farm Service Agency and prioritizes practice for rodeo outside of work.
Masters’ biggest circuit wins
- Atlantic Pro Rodeo, Iowa, $1,036
- Wahoo Saddle Club PRCA Rodeo, Nebraska, $1,391
- Heart Of The North Rodeo, Spooner, Wisconsin, $1,773
There was a special addition of a blue feather to Masters’ hat throughout the Circuit Finals, too. Her sister-in-law Shasta Copper and husband Chance lost their 3-month-old son Parker to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in January 2023. Masters and her relatives including breakaway roper Alli Masters competing in the Circuit Finals all wore blue shirts and feathers for Parker on Saturday.
“We wanted to honor him,” Masters said.
Great Lakes Circuit Average Champion Danni Clover
2023 was Clover’s third trip to the Great Lakes Circuit Finals, and the first time she struck gold. The 39-year-old high school teacher from Clifton Hill, Missouri, has been breakaway roping since she was 13 years old.
“I was competing in amateur rodeos up here, but when breakaway started taking off in 2021, I bought my ProRodeo permit and have been ProRodeoing ever since,” Clover said.
Clover considers herself a gunslinging-style roper, and the short start and electric atmosphere at the Circuit Finals meant that a run at the average title was within her reach.
“At the Circuit Finals we had a really great set of calves, and the scoring part wasn’t really a factor,” Clover said. “You just reacted, didn’t overthink it.”
Clover roped in 2.7, 3.7 and 3.0 seconds in each round on 11-year-old gelding SLCC Mr Hancocks Doc, known as “Blue.”
“The first night I thought I was too early, the second night Blue stepped wide in the box a little bit and I was a little late, and the third day we were right on it,” Clover said. “Coming into the third round I was chasing a little bit [for the average]. That was a good spot for me—I would rather come chasing than someone chasing me. I just did my part and let the cards fall where they may.”
Her average time of 9.4 seconds earned her $2,760, bringing her Circuit Finals total to $5,290.
“Winning this was a whole new deal,” Clover said. “I’ve roped in all three Circuit Finals but never been towards the top. Prior to this, I’d won some year-end and average titles in the amateur rodeo associations, but this? This is a huge win for me.”
While Clover considers herself a circuit breakaway roper, the trip out to Colorado Springs in 2024 has her considering entering rodeos like Cheyenne Frontier Days while she’s out West.
First round: 1. Danni Clover, 2.7 seconds, $1,840; 2. Korah Corrigan, 3.0, $1,380; 3. Joslynn Masters, 3.2, $920; 4. Whitney Locken, 3.4, $460.
Second round: 1. (tie) Shyanne Allen and Hannah Hughes, 2.2 seconds, $1,610 each; 3. Shalee King, 2.5, $920; 4. (tie) Korah Corrigan and Maggie Stewart, 3.0, $230 each.
Third round: 1. (tie) Kiley Dalchow and Shalee King, 2.8 seconds, $1,610 each; 3. (tie) Jesse Alsup and Danni Clover, 3.0, $690 each.
Average: 1. Danni Clover, 9.4 seconds on three head, $2,760; 2. Joslynn Masters, 12.0, $2,070; 3. Sadie Waldron, 21.2, $1,380; 4. Whitney Locken, 28.5, $690.