K. C. JONES
From an article published in the Bent County Democrat newspaper Thursday January 2, 2003 (by reporter Andrea Rich).
|LUCKY MAN, LUCKY CHARM:
K. C. Jones of Las Animas is all smiles as he received his National Finals Rodeo competition number - which corresponds to his monetary winnings standings going into the finals. Sharing this and all the moments of his climbing rodeo career is his new bride, Gayle.
K. C. Jones, resident of Las Animas and the son of Charles and Ruby Jones , proved himself to be a professional rodeo cowboy with his performance in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada and throughout 2002. The following are excerpts from the Newspaper article:
K. C. Jones of Las Animas fulfilled every young cowboy's dream - and his own - when he competed in December in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and became the fifth best steer wrestler in the world.
The event capped a year Jones will never forget.
Professional cowboys and barrel racers qualify for the granddaddy of all rodeos - the NFR - based on the amount of money they win in their event over the course of 100 rodeos. Rodeo athletes can participate in as many PRCA-sanctioned rodeos as they wish - but only count the winnings in 100 for determining qualification for entry into the NFR. To participate in the NFR, Jones had to make at least $53,000 in those 100 rodeos - and he had about $77,000 won by late August/early September.
"That's everybody's dream - to make the finals," Jones said.
Jones also made another life-changing decision before going to the December 2002 NFR event; he married his airline attendant-sweetheart, Gayle. Surrounded by family and with his new bride by his side, this Las Animas raised boy-turned-professional cowboy took to the arena for the biggest contest of his life.
Jones said, for as long as he lives, he will never forget what the grand entry ceremonies of the 2002 National Finals Rodeo felt like. Studded with the greats of the sport, the grand entry in Vegas is, to say the least, "a pretty big deal," in Jones' words. There were five athletes from Colorado competing, and tradition allows for the highest money maker going into the finals to carry the state flag. Carrying the colors of Colorado, Jones and his horse charged into the ring with the Colorado contingent at his side. "I was glad to represent them and Las Animas - this is a great community we live in," Jones thought. Knowing his wife and family were in the stands - and that the people who watched him grow up were watching at home on television - made for a moment in this cowboy's life that will stay with him forever.
"It came down to four who could win it and take the buckle," Jones said of that final round. "I took a pretty good chance at the barrier and broke the barrier. I guess I could have played it conservative and went for the money, but I went down swinging."
He finished his first NFR performance ranked fifth in the average and fifth in the world. According to the Jack Daniels World Standings, Jones has year-to-date earnings of $119,810.
"I'm still making it - still making a living at it." Jones said of his PRCA career. At age 31, there's room in his future for many more NFR competitions and a chance for that buckle. "You betcha!," Jones said, already planning 2003 by starting off at the National Western Stock Show (Denver) in January before heading to Fort Worth, Texas, returning to Denver, and then spending several months on the rodeo circuit in Texas.
He also qualified for the prestigious Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Pocatello, Idaho March 2003. This event is the championship event of the PRCA's circuit system, of which Jones competes in the Mountain States Circuit. Each year, the top money winner and the winner of the average represent their event and circuit at the DNCFR. As the average winner, Jones will hit Pocatello as one of two steer wrestlers from the Mountain States Circuit, which covers Wyoming and Colorado. In this rodeo event, all qualifying points are erased and the cowboys compete on a level playing field in a tournament-style competition with a final sudden-death round.
"We have a big truck, a big trailer, and that's our home away from home," Jones said of life on the road. They will continue to make Las Animas home base on a farm just a few miles north of the farm where he grew up in the arena.
In addition to those rodeo jackpots, Jones can make a living being in demand as an equine dentist, and is trained as a farrier as well. While these jobs continue to tie him to the lifestyle he loves, the passion is in the arena.
"I'd rather win a dime than earn a dollar." Jones said with a laugh. "My biggest accomplishment was getting to the NFR and I owe it all to my mom and dad," he said of his parents, Charles and Ruby Jones; and my new wife - she is my lucky charm."
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