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Making His Mark

Eighteen-year-old Conner Mathews walked away from the AjPHA Youth World Show with four champion belt buckles. However, it wasn’t the shiny new hardware of which he was most proud. The young roper also brought home $1,800 in scholarship money.

“I won almost $2,000 and that’s enough the start me off and pay for my auctioneering school,” Conner said. “This makes that possible.”

Conner plans to get his auctioneering license and go on to get a masters degree in beef cattle. He sees himself staying involved in the livestock industry in his future.

As part of a new initiative at the AjPHA Youth World Show, every world championship class offered scholarship money to at least the top three exhibitors.

Conner and his gelding, NXS Cinco De Mayo, a 2003 black tobiano gelding, won the Youth Heading and Youth Steer Stopping and came in reserve in the Youth Heeling and Youth Breakaway Roping. But the young horseman’s success wasn’t a fluke—it was actually a setback earlier in the year that fueled his fire to excel at the Youth World Show.

“I didn’t make state for high school rodeo. When I came back here, I just had the mindset that I needed to win everything I could. I really like winning,” Conner added with a smile.

Winning is a concept with which Conner is quite familiar. After capturing two world titles last year, he was determined to continue to improve.

“Perfect practice makes perfect runs,” Conner said. “So we practice a lot.”

However, Conner’s determination and success is equally matched by his humble personality. He was quick to thank the sponsors of the scholarship money and everyone who helped him along the way.

“I just pray a lot. Before my runs, I asked God to just pour his blessings on me and it really paid off,” Conner said. “Be humble, practice a lot, and keep God at the center of everything.”