2023 South Dakota Governor’s Cup wraps up pro rodeo regular season

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –  The run turned Jesse Brown’s world upside down.

The star steer wrestler, while competing at the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up in the middle of September, had a wreck he believed would end his regular season.

“I was deciding whether or not to come to Sioux Falls the whole time,” said Brown, 31. “I got knocked out and had a grade 2 MCL tear on my right knee.”

He chose to compete in the inaugural Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup presented by Community Coffee at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls – and it paid dividends – literally.

Brown clocked a 3.4-second time to capture the title in the final four championship round and pocket $25,000 Saturday night, Sept. 30, the final day of the PRCA regular season.

“That was pretty awesome, a lot of fun,” Brown said. “The crowd was just awesome. I’m sure glad I came and now I can rest my knee.”

The Baker City, Ore., cowboy was the last contestant in the final four, which gave him a simple game plan.

“I knew I had to be faster than 3.7 (Will Lummus’ leading time) that was my mindset,” Brown said.

Brown was quick to credit his horsepower. He was riding Curtis Cassidy’s horse, Tyson, the winner of three consecutive PRCA | Nutrena Horse of the Year awards in steer wrestling from 2020-2022.

“Curtis Cassidy was awesome, he sent (Tyson) down for me,” Brown said. “Tanner Milan hazed, and that horse is amazing.”

Brown, with his huge payday will move into second place in the PRCA | RAM World Standings and is heading to his fourth consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Dec. 7-16.

On Saturday, it was a clean slate for the contestants with the top eight in the aggregate from rounds 1 and 2 competing. The top four times/scores advanced to a final round and an even bigger payday.

The final four round paid $25,000 to first; $19,000 (second); $12,000 (third); and $6,000 (fourth).

Last September, the PRCA, the State of South Dakota, Experience Sioux Falls and Cinch announced the Cinch Playoffs will have athletes competing for the Governor’s Cup and vying for the $1.1 million purse. This is the richest rodeo in South Dakota history.

The purpose of the Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup presented by Community Coffee was to give contestants one last chance – with a huge payday – to get to the Wrangler NFR.

That’s exactly what it did for bareback rider Mason Clements. The Spanish Fork, Utah, cowboy was 18th in the world standings on Saturday morning and by Saturday night he was headed to the NFR for the fourth time and the first since 2020.

That became a reality when he won the championship round with an 87.5-point ride on Powder River Rodeo’s Two Buck Chuck.

“I’m speechless,” said Clements, who went to nine rodeos in 10 days, concluding in Sioux Falls.

Other winners Saturday were team ropers Coleman Proctor/Logan Medlin (3.4 seconds); saddle bronc rider Kade Bruno (87.5 points on Sutton Rodeo’s South Point); tie-down roper Shad Mayfield (7.3 seconds); breakaway roper Shelby Boisjoli (2.1 seconds); barrel racer Emily Beisel (13.74 seconds); and bull rider Stetson Wright (90 points on Dakota Rodeo’s Bubba G).

Beisel also won the RAM Top Gun Award – given to the contestant who won the money in a single event in Sioux Falls. Beisel earned $43,750, nearly a clean sweep, outside of splitting the Round 1 win on Thursday.

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