By: Julia Dondero
As a recent High School graduate, Sam Shoftner wrote the final lines of a successful high school rodeo career in a victorious tone. Wrapping up his youth rodeo, the 18-year-old from Jasper, Texas left the Fabulous Lazy E Arena as the 2023 CINCH World Championship Junior Rodeo (presented by Montana Silversmith) Steer Wrestling Champion, closing the books on a successful chapter of his WCRA Division Youth rodeo career.
Knocking down his final steer in a smooth 4.82 seconds, Shoftner secured the title in winning fashion. Shoftner explained he came into the week aiming to not focus on the standings but rather to focus on the opportunities at hand.
“I knew I had to focus on making a good, smooth run. The payout opportunities were big and I had to just take it one go at a time” explained Shoftner.
With over $407,000 awarded throughout the week-long event, the WCJR shattered youth payout records and earned itself a place in the history books. Before this record-breaking event, Shoftner explained the payout was one of his largest motivations for attending.
“The money is motivating. It’s great to see this level of opportunities for youth bull doggers and I am excited to see what is next for the event” recapped Shoftner.
With the recent rise in youth Steer Wrestling events, Shoftner explained these ample opportunities have aided him in his nomination process. The young-gun steer wrestler also explained these opportunities have prepared him for the next chapter in his career, collegiate rodeo. This Fall, Shoftner, will be attending Hill College in Hillsboro, Tex. where he plans to continue his multi-event rodeo career at the collegiate level and study agricultural business.
He accredited his grandparents, family, and coaches for supporting him every step of the way. For the young cowboy, it is a true family affair and their support along the way has created an immense impact on him.
“I’m very thankful for these opportunities. This experience, the money, everything about the WCJR has been great.” reflected Shoftner.